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German Law To Make Google Pay For Snippets 117

judgecorp writes "The German government has announced plans for a copyright law which would require Google, other search engines, and aggregators to pay for small snippets of text displayed on their pages. Journalistic citations and private users will be exempt."
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German Law To Make Google Pay For Snippets

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  • Yeah, that's fine. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gcnaddict ( 841664 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:13AM (#39339015)
    Google, Bing, et al. will just stop linking to sites which enforce this.

    Who thought this was a good idea?
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      Which is pretty much an internet death sentence. Smart.
      • by dkf ( 304284 ) <> on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:03PM (#39339607) Homepage

        Which is pretty much an internet death sentence. Smart.

        So? Google is not under an actual legal obligation to index or describe any site hosted in Germany (or anywhere else). The enormous majority of people outside Germany wouldn't care if their sites vanished from the face of the earth. The simplest technical response to such a law would therefore be for search engines to not return any matches at all for German sites (and to not provide any results at all to people in Germany). Very simple to implement. Complies with the law.

        Also totally not what the legislator had in mind, but who cares about what passes for thought in his or her neck of the woods?

    • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:15AM (#39339061)

      This is a great idea. If a site wants to keep their material off Google, then they can. If they want their material to be on Google, they can do that too.

      I fail to see the problem.

      • by ichthus ( 72442 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:18AM (#39339097) Homepage
        see robots.txt []. Google honors mine.
        • by Tharsman ( 1364603 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:01PM (#39339587)

          Honest question:
          Can you configure robots.txt to allow Google to index your site for search results without summarizing your news in

        • by houghi ( 78078 )

          It is a bit late to get it as a standard, but I would rather have had an opt-in instead of an opt-out.

          Sure, that would have meant that some things would not be standard to find. However with the opt-in that would have been what those sites would have wanted.

          • by gr8_phk ( 621180 )

            It is a bit late to get it as a standard, but I would rather have had an opt-in instead of an opt-out.

            You have always had the option of not putting material on a publicly accessible web server. Google does you a favor by indexing it for free so people can do a quick search and find it. They also make it very easy to opt-out. I'm not sure what this publicly available but "opt-in" concept you have would look like. Perhaps you could do a prototype which we could all go opt into after we hear about it ummmm ho

      • by cez ( 539085 )
        It's called robots.txt, look it up. This is already a non-issue. Greedy ppl want more money, news at 11. Where's moped yahweh?
      • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:37AM (#39339339) Homepage
        It requires needless software development. Instead of honoring robots.txt for sites that don't agree to be indexed, Google will either have to extend robots.txt to allow oppt in or alter their internal code with a list of what they will not index regardless of robots.txt. More cruft and potentially nonstandard extensions on the web is not a good thing. Or Google could just stop indexing any site with an IP addr in Germany.
        • It requires needless software development. Instead of honoring robots.txt for sites that don't agree to be indexed, Google will either have to extend robots.txt to allow oppt in or alter their internal code with a list of what they will not index regardless of robots.txt. More cruft and potentially nonstandard extensions on the web is not a good thing. Or Google could just stop indexing any site with an IP addr in Germany.

          They could just not show the text snippets to users in Germany... I would think that would be the easiest answer for them and it would also mobilize German users to get the law fixed as it would be all search engines, not just Google.

          • I expect that is what will happen. I also expect that German news outlets will get less traffic to their sites and end up loosing revenue.
            • Good, stupidity and greed deserve their just rewards. I predict a lawsuit in a year demanding that Google put snippets back up.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            Or just not index anything in Germany.

            • Or just not index anything in Germany.

              And this is the most responsible action Google can take - it will have a positive influence on bad policy.

              With BGP intelligence, you can figure out what servers are in Germany, but the trick will be how the German government defines what a 'German' website it. I doubt they'll go with the most technically astute definition.

              • by sjames ( 1099 )

                It would lead to the interesting situation where the government wants to insist that a website not actually in Germany is 'entitled' to such payments and the site owners anxiously urging them to reconsider.

        • I think this not about search results, but summarizing and aggregating news in a way that users don’t ever feel the need to enter news sites to see what is going on in the news today.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I take it you didn't use Google's/Bing's news search much, because otherwise you'd know they show 2-3 sentence blurbs, barely enough to find relevant articles. Yahoo news search shows somewhat longer snippets, but still shorter than, say, an average /. summary and still not enough to visit only search page.

            This is just yet another attempt at legislation from people unaware of how Internet works and proud of it.

            Here's a beauty:

            The law would oblige Internet aggregators and search engines to pay publishers to display all or part of their articles, including snippets such as headlines embedded in search links, according to the CDU.

        • It doesn't require any software development. Google bot check against 2 user agent in your robot.txt: Googlebot and Googlebot-News. There is also a lot of possibility with some meta tags.


    • Do you really think the German government would allow this? Of course they would include right in the law that Google HAS to list the news snippets.
      • Until they make a law that [] has to point to an actual search engine, Google is safe. :)
        • The USA haven't really cared about that, why should Germany care about it?
          • The German public cares a lot about privacy and security on the net. Germany also has copyright lobbies. They are trying to sneak this in as the former. As soon as the truth about it hits the media it will be ridiculed and dropped. Germany has a parliamentary system and it works ok (in comparison to some other systems I could name), a bill is being planned usually means a member bill and some of them are retarded, but they never come anywhere near becoming law.
    • by doza ( 657250 )
      I think cost is a major factor. I have no idea how they plan on enforcing search engines pay for content. I think it's a terrible idea if publishers are planning to expand their reader base. Bloggers are exempt, so i wonder if a google snippet of a blog would be cause for a payment.
    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:26AM (#39339197)

      Ya, if anything the market has shifted the opposite direction, and you pay them to get your website featured prominently (however you want to define that specifically).

      Search engines have no incentive to pay to link. As long as they can minimally link for free they will, and if they have to pay for everything they link, well that isn't going to happen is it, because then you'd have no search.

      It's like demanding the phone company pay businesses for the right to list their name in the phonebook.

      A couple of weeks ago there was a story here about some campground in spain getting screwed because a search for Alfaques or whatever it was produced a slew of images from some terrible accident near them 30 years ago. That happens because the people who publish those images have made sure their results are at the top of searches, with images in thumbnails, and they are bigger companies than the small little campground. The system can't work both directions at once, and I can't imagine it working with search providers having to pay for what they are currently paid for.

      • by gr8_phk ( 621180 )
        The campground should make a site with lots of nice pictures and have some other sites do a few fluff pieces on them.
        • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

          The only real SEO is paying google to make sure you're at the top of the list when your website shows up in a search query. Everything else is going to still put you below the people who are paying.

  • Where did that domain name go? I know it's around here somewhere...

  • Achtung!!! this is a bad idea, copyright law is out of hand.

  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:17AM (#39339083)
    It is not that I don't trust you all guy, but I would rather read the german law than the (eventually biased) interpretation by some english blog/web site.
    • At this moment, it's just a proposal. A draft will most likely be presented in April. So it's not written in stone just yet.
    • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @02:19PM (#39341485)

      The announcement doesn't surprise me at all. Germany is retarded with copyrights and riddled with the copyright industry lobbyists, they make auctions now give a percentage of art sales into a fund to be distributed to the artist who made it. This even affects art that was sold before the law. All it did was spring up masses of organizations that claim to represent a list of artists to claim the money and then take their commission.

      Not to mention that the people who invested into art suddenly lost a few % to these leeches.

      Before anyone claims that's right or correct, should volunteer, when selling their house, to give a few % to the carpenter/bricklayers/plumbers/electricians/etc. who built it, into perpetuity. Or when their used car is sold, give a few percent to the manufacturer. Or used books on amazon. Etc.

    • by WoOS ( 28173 )

      An alas German article about the whole debate (including Pro and Contra position) can be found in the c't 17/10 (online []). They also have a news article on the most recent development ( [] ) but that is not really anything new except that the government now started to make internal plans on how to realize such a law. Note that obviously Heise would profit from such a law but they are typically quite impartial.

      Main argument for introducing the law is that for man

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I would love to see Google just stop displaying snippets, and see how long it takes for them to realize that no one can find their articles anymore

  • So the German constitution has no "equal protection" equivalent?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Followed by most other search engines, leaving the Germans with no Search engines and reducing a small number of jobs
    But atleast then their children will not be exposed to Nazi stuff

  • This is what happens when any nation takes it upon themselves to try to legislate the internet: mindnumbingly stupid legislation. We edge closer to this trap each day ourselves.
  • Does that include Slashdot, then? Or will the submitters & editors have to make sure they paraphrase everything in the summary (no more copypasta)?
    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      One other question -- under whose authority/jurisdiction will this be enforced? Will it only be applicable when the source article is hosted by a site that is based in Germany? What if they aren't based there, but they do have a physical office there?
  • ...into line with the rest of the EU. Just restrict their citizens' ability to find information.

  • Google announces they are blocking access from all German IP addresses in 3...2...1...

  • So, if I have a personal blog, Google can happily spread my content around all they like, for free. Okay, fair enough. BUT, if I set up a private company to run my blog for me, and Google use content from THAT, they'd have to pay me? Am I right in interpreting it like that? Or do they only mean *certain* businesses can get money for it? If it's that, get it tae fuck entirely
  • Good luck with that. Seriously. Next you'll tell me I have to pay to utter phrases that were already exclaimed! Sign me up! Just another way to paint themselves "victim" and get some simpathy browny points. Assholes.
  • Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. should all stop indexing things from Germany right away. If they ALL stop, that might make Germany and other nations re-think things through.
  • The way I see it is that this is a direct cost of business that Google must recover. The snippet really is an advertisement of the article they are pointing to. That snippet is what the user uses to make the decision to click the link.

    If the publisher wants that snippet shown, Google can charge them a nice monthly fee for advertising the article. Or they can opt out and have their article shown without the snippet or not at all.

    Of course, Google is going to have to hire many new people to manage this a

  • In an update on Burke,

    Yonder mooches the Fourth Estate, more greedy than them all.

    Of course it's not just an unfair share of Google's money they want, but also extra leverage to hold bloggers at lawyerpoint.

  • Just don't do the snippets for German sites. It won't take long for the reduced traffic to cause German news organizations to beg to have the law repealed.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker