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Google searches for web copyright bill opponents
Photo: DPA

Google searches for web copyright bill opponents

Published: 27 Nov 2012 11:52 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Nov 2012 14:40 GMT+01:00

US internet giant Google is campaigning against a proposed German law that would force it and similar companies to pay publishers for displaying even snippets of their content.

In the biggest lobbying effort to change a bill ever undertaken by the company in Germany, Google is warning on its German site that ancillary copyright (Leistungsschutzrecht) threatens web users' access to information.

"Ancillary copyright means less information for citizens and higher costs for companies," said Google Germany head Stefan Tweraser.

"Searching and finding − a fundamental function of the internet − would be distorted by ancillary copyright."

Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition has proposed implementing a Leistungsschutzrecht law to ensure press publishers are fairly compensated for their content, for example, when a short summary of a news article appears on search engines or news aggregators.

But critics say the law would merely amount to a "Google Tax" to support beleaguered publishers unable to cope with the disruptive nature of the internet.

The Google campaign is an attempt influence the public debate ahead of the bill's first reading in parliament this Thursday. Along with a special page at www.google.de/campaigns/deinnetz/, Google has put the issue on its main German search page and YouTube.

The web giant has even created an "MP Map" with public contact information for German parliamentarians, so opponents of the Leistungsschutzrecht bill can contact their local representative.

"We ask internet users to fight for the ability to find what they search for in the future," said Tweraser. "We hope the German Bundestag will reject this draft legislation."

But Peter Beyer, an MP from Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, attacked the initiative.

"I find this gigantic effort by Google completely overdone," he told the WAZ newspaper group. "Google has an immense economic power that it is uses for this campaign."

The lobby effort marks a new approach in Google's battle to win hearts and minds in Germany, where the company has often run into public and official opposition to some of its core offerings.

Whereas hundreds of thousands of Germans opted to have their residences blurred on Google's Street View mapping service, a row with Germany's musical royalties authority GEMA keeps German users from seeing countless videos on YouTube – which is owned by Google.

DPA/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:21 November 27, 2012 by chicagolive
Actually and this is one of those rare times I defend Googles practices lately. I do get to news quicker when Google provides a small except of a article. On this one they are right it will only hurt the publishers most especially the small ones you would not normally generate foot traffic. Also I want to say SCREW GEMA freakin mafia they should be banned.
13:39 November 27, 2012 by raandy
This is a step in the direction of internet control.

Hopefully her in Germany this will not precipitate to the level GEMA has.
09:37 November 28, 2012 by authun
I support Google on this but am disappointed with their petition form: No indication/promise that they will not collect and/or hand on one's personal information. Or is it just due to (typical German) sloppy, incomplete user interface development from the Googlers here?
10:12 November 28, 2012 by pepsionice
Only a moment of pondering....but if I were Google....I'd take every single German address under .de, and just show them as text only during searches.....no more than five words max. Let them get a dose of what they desire. Businesses will quickly wise up and tell the government to go and find someone else to screw with.
11:47 November 28, 2012 by michael4096
Serious authors should worry a lot about this. Internet search is the best shop window ever invented for them but frightening the search sites with ill-defined rules and legal threats will simply remove that avenue for promotion leaving them tighter in the arms of the publishers.

Apart from a few publishers, the only winners here will be lawyers.
20:31 December 22, 2012 by coffeelover
Sounds like the newspaper lobby at work here. Sad to see newspapers go out of business all the time, but time still marches on, they can do what a lot of newspapers do in the U.S. and show just 1 paragraph of the story when you click on it from ANY search engine, then demand money to "subscribe" to read unlimited online version of the whole newspaper. Yea, I think that is a failed business model. If I were GOOGLE, I would not show any link to a news site demanding a royalty, or tax to show related search content, this would pretty much kill any business that demands it. I thought us Germans were smarter than this suicidal greedy legislation indicates.
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