German publishers say Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo are in violation of the country’s ancillary copyright law and want them to pay 11 percent of revenues generated from linking to and publishing snippets of their content.
Jeff Jarvis first reported on the latest series of demands against search engines by VG Media, a collection agency for copyright holders. What seems most absurd about the demands is that these organizations are getting valuable link juice and visibility from sites like Google and Bing.
Also, as Jarvis points out: “Google does not place advertising on Google News. Are the publishers seeking 11 percent of 0?”
Jarvis brought up an excellent point when he said, “If the publishers really want a fair exchange of value, then they should also be paying Google for the links — the readers — it sends their way.” However, Google’s mission of remaining unbiased would be greatly compromised by that approach.
Let’s face the facts; Google has no intention of ever paying for the right to utilize content or links in organic search. Also, these publishers could easily opt out using robots.txt.
In a recent press release from VG Media (translated by GeekWire) said that they expect “payments from any company, that it considers to infringe on that the ‘ancillary copyright’ of its members.”
It should be noted that the agencies waging war on search engines do not account of all of Europe or Germany specifically. There are a significant number of other publishers that aren’t taking part in the suits.
Germany isn’t the only European country in which Google has faced challenges of late. Thanks to the “right to be forgotten” case, Google is being flooded with requests to remove links to less than favorable material.
Where does it end? What do you think Google and other search engines can do to protect themselves against these sort of suits in the future?