Google challenges German “link tax”

Google is urging German users to fight a proposed change to the company’s federal copyright law. Officials say the change is designed to protect newspapers but Google argues it could undermine the entire concept of search.

According to the Financial Times, the proposal means that a search engine would have to get permission before including a “snippet” of a news story when linking to it, with the original publisher having the right to demand a license fee to give this permission.

Google would obviously be unhappy with this idea because of its effects on Google News. However, it says the changes go too far and would have much more serious effects. It argues that as the proposal stands, it could affect all forms of websites, not just news articles.

It gives the example of public officials whose contact details appear on their website theoretically being able to block a search engine from picking out the relevant information to appear in a snippet on the results page.

The bill will be debated for the first time by Germany’s parliament tomorrow. Government officials in both France and Italy are said to have shown an interest in adopting the same principles into their domestic laws.

Google has now launched a petition, stating (though its own translation software from the original German) that “For you it would be so much more difficult in the Internet to find the information that you seek.” It notes publishers already have the right to block their pages from being indexed by Google and points out that it doesn’t make any ad revenue from Google News.

7 Responses to Google challenges German “link tax”

    • But that something … what should it be? If cars are were replaced with star-trek teleporters would we create some laws to keep them alive? Wikileaks has uncovered more things in the last 2 years than investigative journalism of Newspapers has in the last 20 years!

    • And not being discovered because Google stops linking will help how? I mean, I tend to take a look at the snippets and pick a site that seems like it has the information I'm looking for. If sites refuse to get snippets, it means I won't find them and use other news sites. How would obscurity help not killing your paper?

  1. I live in France, and we have the same thing going on, just not quite as far along as in Germany. However, sooner or later, we'll get it in the neck too, so I'm watching. I don't know exactly what happens on German sites, but I can say what happens here in France. French news sites are claiming that Google owes them taxes for clicks, were normally I would have thought it would be the opposite, that the news sites would welcome more visitors, because most news sites are so full of adverts that in some extreme cases, adverts take up more space than the news article itself. Yes, I do use Google to get my news, as well as RSS feeds and sometimes just visiting the site itself. I can understand people asking for money, but not when they are also getting other sources of revenues. If you have aderts, do not expect someone to pay you to get viewers to click on your adverts.

  2. Poor Google. They design something to better rally the spread of information only to be halted by the law. Its a company with fairly simple principles that seems to be getting jammed up more and more by bureaucracy.

  3. It is common practice nowdays for whole branches of corporation to blame others instead of realizing that they are not doing a good job. The newspaper does hardly anymore those things they were once praised for (investigative journalism) and people don’t want to pay for their webpage. Well, if they don’t want people to use their stories, then don’t fracking put them online. Same goes for the movie or music industry, all the evil copyright infringements but oddly, the movie rips you can download fare much better in usability than when the paid for dvds/bluerays (meaning no un-skippable intros, no region codes..).

  4. Belgian newspapers already tried this with a fine for each link google news made. Google response was to remove all the newspapers completely from google news and also the search index. The same day I believe the news papers allowed google again to use google news and promised to not sue anymore.

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