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Germany: A new neighboring right for publishers?


The German government has announced plans to create a new kind of copyright to protect online journalism and to help major media companies to build a succesfull business model on the internet. Although it is not at all clear how a new neighboring right might look like, newspaper and magazine publishers in Germany welcomed the proposal. In my view this looks very much like an attempt to hurt Google News and to protect dinosaur businesses that are not able to adapt to the online world. One can only speculate about what the government has in mind. One possibility would be to require a license for any commercial use of published material. That might even include linking to it. But where does the commercial use of an article start? Would a blogger, who takes part in the Google AdSense programm, be required to ask for permission to link to articles? And what about Google? In Germany, there are no ads on their News web site. And even if the new right would be tailored to stop services like Google News. Isn't it likely, Google would pay no money to index the news web sites. Instead, I would expect Google to just remove the sites of companies from the index, who insist on a compensation. Google does not depend on the media websites, while they receive up to half of their visitors from Google. So they might experience a significant loss of money from advertising on their web sites (According to Cashmore, the Wall Street Journal alone could face an estimated 15 million US Dollar decline in revenue). As long as there is no united front against Google, I see no danger to the search giant.

Also important in this context: Last month, Murdoch announced he will block Google from indexing News Corps materials and do a deal with Microsoft, so consumers will have to use the Bing search engine to find Murdoch owned content. The frightening aspect of this: If content provider begin striking deals with search engines, we'll no longer have a "single index of the entire web". Want to find articles of newspaper A und B, then Google them, want to find articles of newspaper C and D: You have to Bing them ...

Jeff Jarvis, author of the book "What Would Google does" comments Murdoch's move on his blog as follows:

News Corp. leaving Google would be a mosquito bite on an elephant’s ass, unnoticed by Google or by the audience. For there will always be – as Murdoch laments – free competitors: the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corp, which he and his son complain about, not to mention the Guardian, the Telegraph, NPR, CBC and any sensible news organization worldwide.

This silliness is emblematic of the end of the Gutenberg age, the industrial age, the age of control, the age of centralization, Murdoch’s age. The problem here is that Google-virgin Murdoch simply does not understand the dynamics of the link economy. He roars against them. Google et al do not take his content, they send it audience and value. It is up to him to exploit that. The business failure here is Murdoch’s, not Google’s.


For more information see: Pfanner, Eric, Germany look at ways to protect online journalism, New York Times



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