Google Gains Victory in German Publisher Dispute

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Back in June, Jeff Jarvis wrote on Buzz Machine about German publishers banding together to go after Google for linking to their content. As Jarvis pointed out Google News does not show ads so the desire to get 11 % of something, would be 11% of nothing.

From the article:

German publishers are not just fighting Google. They are fighting the link and thus the essence of the internet.

Half the major publishers in Germany have started a process of arbitration — which, no doubt, will lead to suits — to demand that Google pay them for quoting from and thus linking to their content. And now we know how much they think they deserve: 11% of Google’s revenue related to their snippets. From their government filing, they want a cut of “gross sales, including foreign sales” that come “directly and indirectly from making excerpts from online newspapers and magazines public.” [All these links are in German.]

Their demands are as absurd as they are cynical and dangerous. First, of course, Google is sending the publishers plenty of value as well. That is, Google is sending the publishers us: readers, customers, the public these news organizations allegedly want to serve. So what are we, chopped liver? I’ll be posting an essay soon that argues that one reason media have a problem building new digital business models is that we still think value is intrinsic only in content; we have no marketplace and metrics for valuing the creation of an audience for it (now that those functions are unbundled). 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. But, of course, that would create a moral hazard and corrupt search; that Google does not charge for placement in search and Google News is precisely what set it apart from predecessors and built a valuable and trusted service.

Read the full article here

Today a German regulator said it will not pursue the complaint, but will keep an eye on Google and how they respond to publisher demands. You may recall we wrote an article a few weeks back on Spain looking for a so-called “Google Tax”.

A German regulator has said it will not pursue a complaint brought against Google by a group of publishers for giving users access to their news articles.

Several publishers including Axel Springer and Burda had banded together in a group called VG Media to demand Google pay them for making their online articles available to the public.

“Sufficient suspicion is always necessary to initiate an abuse procedure. The complaint from VG Media did not establish this,” Andreas Mundt, president of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, said in a statement today.

Under German legislation that came into effect just over a year ago, publishers can prohibit search engines and similar services from using their news articles beyond very short excerpts.

Read the full article here

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