It seems that Google just can’t past this whole “stop pirating our bylines” thing these days: the German lower parliament approved a bill requiring Google (and other search engines) to pay a licensing fee for re-publishing bylines of news stories. This comes just months after the French press industry settled its similar disputes with Google, who promised to create a digital press fund worth 60 million euros, in addition to closer relationships between online media and Google’s ad business (=more favorable rates). The French government, alongside the traditional French press industry, had been negotiating with Google for quite some time, and the government was threatening a similar law if such a settlement could not be reached. As some predicted, settling with France may have opened up the flood gates of European governments asking for press grants.
Google has already stated that it would not be striking similar deals with other European countries; however, we’ll just have to wait and see on this one. Up to this point, there is no clarity about what the fund will be used for, what the terms & conditions will look like, or when it will be established; however, one thing is sure – Google will not be paying a licensing fee.
The country of Brazil passed a similar law requiring snippets on Google to be paid for, and the country has since been de-referenced in Google. If Germany is looking to strike up an ultimatum with Google, they better be ready to accept the consequences – Brazil lost only 5% of its total traffic to online media, and it will likely be higher for Germany, who has already built a close relationship with the search giant.
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