Germany Wants To Force Google To Pay License Fees For Links

A report from GigaOm this morning discusses a ridiculous proposed “ancillary copyright” law in Germany that would compel Google — and others online — to pay to link to and excerpt any content from German publishers’ websites (e.g., newspapers). The law currently is in draft form and being debated by stakeholders and legislators. The “fair […]

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Screen Shot 2012 08 22 At 10.28.38 AMA report from GigaOm this morning discusses a ridiculous proposed “ancillary copyright” law in Germany that would compel Google — and others online — to pay to link to and excerpt any content from German publishers’ websites (e.g., newspapers). The law currently is in draft form and being debated by stakeholders and legislators.

The “fair use” doctrine would prohibit this sort of idea from becoming law in the US. But under the proposed German law, every link and/or content excerpts included in search results would be subject to licensing fees.

One question is how broadly the law would be applied. Would it selectively apply to German publishers or would it equally apply to all content creators? One would assume the latter. Regardless it would compromise the online economy in Germany and is extremely short-sighted accordingly.

Google has come out strongly against the proposed rules for obvious reasons. Not all German executives or legislators support the law either. It is reportedly the product of lobbying by powerful German publisher interests. But there’s also a bit of nationalism involved, with Google, Bing and Yahoo (American corporations) seen as antagonistic to German domestic publisher interests.

As the GigaOm piece points out, German publishers who don’t want their content indexed in Google or Bing can use the robot.txt tag to signal that desire. However the proposed law seems calculated to generate revenue as well as be somewhat “punitive” — it would appear.

My assumption is that “cooler heads will prevail” and ultimately there will be enough internal German opposition to the law that it will not see formal passage.


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About the author

Greg Sterling
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Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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