Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In its latest effort to bring attention to government action it considers threatening to the open web, Google is warning German citizens and lawmakers of the potential dangers posed by copyright changes being considered in Germany’s parliament.

The campaign and petition is called Verteidige Dein Netz, German for “Defend Your Net.” Its target? A proposed law which would allow German publishers to charge Google for the short excerpts seen on sites such as Google News or remove content from the search engine entirely.

For Google, the proposed law is perplexing, as publishers can already choose their level of participation in Google indexes.
“From our perspective, this is very strange, because as you may know, publishers decide for themselves whether they wanted to be listed on Google services or not,” said Bremer. “They even can decide within the snippet tag whether the snippets are included or not. And so this is a rather strange law that is being discussed in Germany.”

Publishers argue Google is effectively getting their content free of charge, but Bremer suggested a more symbiotic relationship Google’s search and news aggregation platforms send about 50% of the traffic received by German publishers, he claimed.

Germany isn’t the first country to consider such a change: Publishers in France recently had a similar spat with Google, demanding the company pay them for their content. In October, French President Francois Hollande threatened to back legislation that would force Google to pay news outlets when linking to their content if the company failed to craft a deal with French publishers. Google responded by threatening to remove those outlets from its search indexes.

In Brazil, approximately 90% of newspapers recently pulled their content from Google News with similar complaints.