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Germany moves to dilute criticized 'Google law'

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Germany moves to dilute criticized 'Google law'
Photo: DPA
07:10 CET+01:00
Germany's ruling centre-right coalition is set to water down proposed legislation that would force internet search engines and news aggregators like Google to pay publishers for displaying snippets of their content.

The law regulating so-called ancillary copyright (Leistungsschutzrecht), which is scheduled to pass parliament on Friday, would no longer apply to extremely short passages.

“Single words or the smallest text excerpts” would be exempt from the law, Manuel Höferlin, internet expert for the Free Democratic Party, told the DPA news agency late on Tuesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition of Christian and Free Democrats proposed the Leistungsschutzrecht law to ensure press publishers were fairly compensated for their content, for example when a short summary of a news article appears on search engines or news aggregators.

But critics of the bill have dubbed it the “Lex Google” because they say Germany's beleaguered publishers are hoping to milk the successful US internet giant.

The company has mounted vigorous opposition to the legislation, saying content providers benefitted from traffic directed from snippets on its search engine and Google News.

“It was important to me to find a solution that allows the display of search results without making a visit to the original site superfluous,” Höferlin said.

The VDZ and BDZV publisher associations reacted coolly to the proposed changes to the bill.

“We assume the ancillary copyright law first and foremost creates the legal foundation for press publishers to protect the work of publishers and journalists in the digital age,” they said in a joint statement.

Google had no immediate comment on the matter.

DPA/The Local/mry

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