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German Copyright Bill Would Let Publishers Charge Search Engines For Excerpts 114

Posted by timothy
from the mechanical-royalities dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Australia's Computerworld: "The German parliament is set to discuss a controversial online copyright bill that is meant to allow news publishers to charge search engines such as Google for reproducing short snippets from their articles. Earlier this week, Google started a campaign against the proposed law. Google was criticized for its campaign against the law. The search engine 'obviously' tries to use its own users for lobbying interests 'under the pretext of a so-called project for the freedom of the Internet,' wrote Günter Krings and Ansgar Heveling, politicians of the CDU and CSU conservative parties, who together form the biggest block in the German parliament."
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German Copyright Bill Would Let Publishers Charge Search Engines For Excerpts

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  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:13PM (#42135941)

    Seriously, Germany's copyright views should be canned by anyone willing to take up the fight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:15PM (#42135955)

    If google/bing/yahoo/ whoever were to remove all of the articles from their DB the publishers would loose all business from the internet.. Surely this would take 1 month offline before they came crawling back to the Search Engines (literally).

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:19PM (#42136005) Journal

      And that's what is going to happen. And maybe after a few months of web stats crashing, they'll figure out it's not terribly wise to bite the hand that feeds you.

      • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:38PM (#42136205)

        And that's what is going to happen. And maybe after a few months of web stats crashing

        No, no-one is going to want to point out that the laws that they argued for so heavily will be their demise. They will find some other scapegoat and quietly ask that the laws be retracted - or make behind the scenes "agreements" with the likes of Google to publish the snippets.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Even better, Google could charge them to host the excerpts.

        • by MrDoh! (71235)
          They'll ask for and get taxpayer funded bailouts, or there'll be some other way to get Google to pay somehow for it. It's a moneygrab.
        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          Or other eu publishers will launch German language sites to take the place of the departed German ones - my employer has just launched a German language version of new scientist for example
      • by JakeBurn (2731457)
        We're talking about online German news services? I wonder how many dozens of Germans actually search Google for news. Seems like most people either go to the sites directly or use aggregate services that have lots of sources already pooled. Even if Google says fine and pays, it seems like the only thing that would change is some gov't employee would be hired to write a program that just searched German news sites on Google millions of times a day.
        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          Its the traffic from news stories blended into the main SERPS that people want to be a Google news publisher
      • They won't come crawling back to Google. They will crawl to their legislators to mandate that Google include them its index, thus forcing Google to index them AND pay money to do it.

    • by Hentes (2461350) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:52PM (#42136363)

      They could already remove themselves with robots.txt if they wanted to. I bet if Google removed them they would sue it for unfair competition. This is nothing more than extortion.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        This isn't about search, it is about Google News including snippets of articles on its home page. They are saying that Google has built a web portal full of content that brings in ad revenue, but does not pay for the content. Okay, some people click through, but the snippets are enough for a large number of viewers.

        They seem to be fine with a couple of sentences being included in search results.

        • by omnichad (1198475)

          Which is kind of odd. I've never used that screen. I only go to Google News to search for news I already know about. And then the snippets help me decide which article I want to read on the subject. Just because someone can be aware of relevant news by glancing at the news home page doesn't really mean anything of value was lost. Even if something of value was gained by the reader.

    • by sjames (1099) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:56PM (#42136399) Homepage

      Exactly. Google already 'pays' for the excerpts by sending them eyeballs for their ad revenue. If they'd rather not have all those eyeballs, they are already free to make their preferences known through robots.txt. Surely, by welcoming Google's crawler knowing what that entails, they have agreed to the excerpts.

      • Robots.txt is opt-out - I thought we liked opt-out rather than opt-in.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Normally, yes. However, given the nature of the web, publishing content that has no password on it is in itself an opt-in. The web is for things you want seen. For those few cases where that is not the intent (and it really is a minuscule percentage), robots.txt may be used to clarify your position. At one time, robots.txt WAS opt-in but too many of that vast majority who wanted to be in the search engines didn't know about it and wondered why they were never spidered.

    • They shouldn't remove it entirely.

      They should display the name of the newspaper/site and put a huge black bar over the content.

    • by alexgieg (948359)

      If google/bing/yahoo/ whoever were to remove all of the articles from their DB the publishers would loose all business from the internet.. Surely this would take 1 month offline before they came crawling back to the Search Engines (literally).

      That sounds obvious, but it isn't really clearly whether that's the case. Here in Brazil major newspapers blocked Google News and the result was a 5% drop in absolute traffic for them, but a net increase in revenue since the remaining 95% accesses are by people who manually go to their sites and then stay a while around, resulting in LOTS more ads displayed. Now, this might be a cultural peculiarity, some special way in which Brazilian Internet users relate with newspapers that differs from other countries.

    • The controversy seems to be about the little snippets. Google could handle that by removing the snippets from German sources while still listing them by headline only. It would be perfectly legal and nondiscriminatory, and would hurt German news sources a lot more than it would hurt Google.

  • This is truly a surprising development!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I geuss this will mean Google wont be indexing these sites... Therefore the articles wont be on G and therefor their articles can be used by someone else without any duplicate content penalty from Google. This is going to bite the germans in the ass.

  • They'll hurt themselves. :)
    • Exactly. And I know what's coming next: after their page views have dropped to the bottom, they propose a new law. "Google ... erhm ... 'monopolists' will be forced to crawl each (newspaper) website. Not doing so and/or excluding them from their search index is an abuse of their dominating market position."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    People can already charge for excerpts by putting their content behind a paywall.
    In fact, even that one newspaper who did actually got a decent sustainable profit by putting said content behind a paywall, despite concerns.

    If the price is right, people will pay for content.
    The free web is just more convenient for most people, it isn't the only solution. Never has been.

    Having a bill created for it seems redundant and even potentially abusive.

    • by game kid (805301)

      But this forces users to pay twice: once for the use of Google, now that they'll charge per search; and once to view the full article after reading the abstract on the publisher's site! You don't want the publishers to earn money twice!?

      • by jimicus (737525)

        Not really. We have a free market in the EU - Google are perfectly at liberty to set up their European offices in another EU country, which is perfectly okay from an invoicing perspective (either as a customer of or supplier to Google), but might be rather awkward for a publisher wanting to charge them.

    • The Globe and Mail put up a 10 free samples per month, then we block you and redirect you to a subscription nag screen wall. It was mildly annoying to have to click on somebody else's link to the same story, until I made a wild guess and found that firefox private browsing mode disabled the block.
  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:30PM (#42136099)

    ... doesn't understand the internet.

    Much of the books you find on google are not in user-friendly form and they allow you to find books that you could have NEVER have found in another era. These idiots under-estimate the long-tail of finding books that get lost because of the limited amount of time and attention people have for the limited amount of adspace that exists.

    I've found tonnes of books I would never have known about otherwise, these idiots are shooting themselves in the foot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've spent a significant money on iTunes after googling up lyrics I heard on the radio or in a shop.

      Of course the Right Owners tried to shut these lyrics sites down.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Oh, the middle men understand the internet just fine. Just like buggy whip manufacturers, after the first time they seen and used a gas pedal on a car.

      • FYI gas pedals were a relatively late innovation. Early cars had throttle pulls on the dash (kind of like a choke pull). Foot throttles were add-ons for early Model Ts. Back then you had to have deep knowledge of your car, just to get up a long hill (gravity feed fuel, you backed up the hill).

        • by Paul Jakma (2677)

          Another option was a rotatable lever on the steering wheel. However, foot pedal operated throttles were already in use by at least 1923 - I've driven an Austin 7 of that year with such.

    • The publishing industry doesn't make money on books that have been out of print for 50 years.
    • I've found tonnes of books I would never have known about otherwise,

      Really? What kinds of books? I'm always on the look out for interesting books, if you have any ideas.

  • Google, Bing, Yahoo et.al. should just stop indexing German news sites. Let's see what happens to news revenue when that happens.
    • Google, Bing, Yahoo et.al. should just stop indexing German news sites. Let's see what happens to news revenue when that happens.

      German news sites sue Google and Bing (whoe really uses Yahoo anymore...) for damages in German courts and wins huge sums?

      • by bmo (77928) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:53PM (#42136375)

        How would that even be winnable?

        Publishers: "Hurr! Give us moneys to index us!"
        Search providers: "No, it's fair use."
        Publishers: "We will sue!"
        Search providers: "Go ahead"
        Court: "It's not fair use. Pay them."
        Search providers: "Sure thing, but after this, no indexing"
        Publishers: "We'll sue!"
        Search providers: "For what, exactly, complying with the court order?"
        Court: "by not indexing, they're not infringing"
        Publishers: "WAAAAA IT'S NOT FAIR!"

        This already happend in Belgium.

        --
        BMO

        • by Hatta (162192)

          You assume German courts would be reasonable. If they're anything like German politicians, they won't be.

    • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:41PM (#42136245)
      They should go a step further. Stop indexing all German news sites and charge a fee to those who want their articles in the search indexes, since it is additional overhead for Google to make exceptions for them.
      • OUCH. That is an interesting thought.
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Then another company decides it will index German news sites, and by indexing more material, becomes a viable competitor to Google, Bing and Yahoo in Germany.
      • and by indexing more material, becomes a viable competitor to Google, Bing and Yahoo in Germany.

        Hardly.

    • that would be abusing the search ~monopoly for a different business.

      there are two separate businesses here
      1) google search (newspapers want to be in this, but possibly don't want snippets showing)
      2) google news (newspapers want payment for snippets in this)

      at the moment, they can opt out of 1, or 2 independently using robots.txt

      if they switch to demanding payment for #2, then google should just de-list them from #2 until they pay an advertising fee (which is coincidentally equal to the government mandated c

      • by Cederic (9623)

        What if Google used the justification that a publisher had demanded removal of excerpts, so Google has responded by removing those excerpts and corresponding links from all *.google.de sites?

        If you can't link a sentence without paying for it, then you can't include it in search results either.

        • > If you can't link a sentence without paying for it, then you can't include it in search results either.

          sure you can.

          Google searches my entire site - but they definitely do not have permission to take all my content and reproduce it on their new site for supporting their remote control apps. Similarly with use of the news stories, there is a reasonable debate to be had about what constitutes fair use.

          The newspapers are arguing (quite reasonably) that Google News (where summaries of news stories are pres

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Did you look at Google News? Your "quite reasonably" and "essentially a newspaper" tell me that you didn't.

            Snippets there are no longer than on general search and generally useless for any other purpose than ascertaining the topic of article.

            It's literally two and a half first sentences. I doubt there are many news articles that tell you everything you need in two intro sentences.

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:42PM (#42136263) Homepage

    If the law passes, the search engines will go "fuck that" and only index free content or newspapers that specifically allow their stuff to be indexed for free. The other newspapers will lose their only remaining readers under fifty and die out along with that generation.

    There are some newspapers in my country who actually get the internet.

    ZEIT launches searchable news archive with API [developer.zeit.de]

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or maybe the newspapers will make their own search engine, better than Google, and Google will be left out.

      • judging by the average newspapers site i think not. Most are 90% adds poorly laid out content that often don't render well(overlaping) and try to direct you to dead tree versions. i am surprised that they can set up a lamp server in most cases.

      • They can't even do the one thing they're supposed to do - publish news - decently, unless you count celebrity X kisses celebrity Y's ass as news. how on earth can you think they can bring out a *better* search engine than Google's?

    • Something worse than fuck will happen. The propaganda, er news agencies of the Chinese, Russian, Iranian governments, or some fringe extremist group will take up the slack. They will be more than happy to supply "freely" indexable censored news.

    • If the law passes, the search engines will go "fuck that" and only index free content or newspapers that specifically allow their stuff to be indexed for free. The other newspapers will lose their only remaining readers under fifty and die out along with that generation.

      The supreme stupidity here is that a law is not needed. If the sites don't want to be indexed, it's dead simple to set up robots.txt [robotstxt.org] to keep out Google and the others. But that's been pointed out thousands of times by now. So if they

  • If everybody jumped at everything proposed in legislature at all the foreign governments, obesity would be a thing of the past.

    Every once in a great while I'll get what I need form the summary of that page (ex. definition, reference), but the other 99.5% I click the link and go to the page like I normally would & I don't think my googling habits are unique in any way, so this type of law would make websites have to adapt... more descriptive page headers & titles for starters, or... they can just
  • It is long past time for the major engines to work together for a week to simply pull all of the news items from those nations. If French and German news sources lose their customers during that time, I think that they will appreciate what the engines do for them.
    • by Solandri (704621)

      It is long past time for the major engines to work together for a week to simply pull all of the news items from those nations.

      No, because then that would be collusion, and could end up with nasty things like the government mandating the search engines pay newspapers to "license" their content.

      Just leave it to the free market. The search engines which want to pay the newspapers to index them can. The search engines which don't won't. If the newspaper content is as valuable to search engine users as t

  • would be for Google to block search results, and mention in news pages, for any publisher objecting to reasonable quotes. If they don't want publicity, they should be accommodated.
  • by zome (546331) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @09:35PM (#42137919)
    For CEOs, it is easier to for them to pay for somethings than give away something for free. So Google, Bing, etc, should come up with the service for those publishers and charge them like $1000 a months to index their website and list it on the search result. If they don't pay, no index for them. It's now a fair game among the publishers thus they can't really sue Google, Bing, etc for anti-competitive.

    Then Google, Bing, etc can compete with each others for lower rate. After a while, one, and soon after that, all of them will offer free listing, and those CEO will jump with joy (we didn't have to pay for it anymore, yeh!!)

    Problem solved.
  • Is this about search results? Most similar laws in the past have been about Google News (and similar services from other search engines). If they're asking to charge for search context, then sure they're shooting themselves in the foot - I don't know about you, but I hate results with no context. If they're trying to shut down Google News https://news.google.com/ [google.com] then it's a slightly different story ... only slightly though, Google does only include snippets there too.

  • What's rather funny is, that all partie's (CDU/CSU/SPD/GREENS/LIBERALS/PIRATES) youth organisations said in a joint statement (the Left was left out, but they say the same), that the law is stupid.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Publisher do not mind being indexed, what they mind is the scrapping of their page and using exerpt, in say, google news. Why is that ? Because there are a lot of people like me which simply look at google new, read the exerpt, and don't bother with the full article. And that is that many impression / hit on their homepage that the publisher *loses*.

    So again , this is not about indexing, this is about using news exerpt like this : http://news.google.com/?edchanged=1&ned=de&authuser=0 [google.com].

    As for thre
    • by badzilla (50355)

      There is something wrong with this argument but my mind won't tell me what it is. Why do the publishers think people like you should read the full article if you are perfectly happy to read only an excerpt? In fact why don't the publishers save time by only publishing the excerpt (since people don't bother with the full article.) Of course Google would not able to show you this excerpt so instead would have to display a link to "mystery news".

    • by Shagg (99693)

      Because there are a lot of people like me which simply look at google new, read the exerpt, and don't bother with the full article.

      That means the full article has no value. That's the Publisher's biggest problem, not competition from Google News type services.

  • The search engine "obviously" tries to use its own users for lobbying interests "under the pretext of a so-called project for the freedom of the Internet", wrote Günter Krings and Ansgar Heveling, politicians of the CDU and CSU conservative parties, who together form the biggest block in the German parliament."

    As opposed to... the German press and publishers, who have been abusing their position to misinform and manipulate public opinion for their own financial gain for decades.

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. -- Poul Anderson

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