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
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
ast 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
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
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.