back to article Google Tax part 94: EU's H-dot wavers over copyright levy

EU digi-chief Gunther H-dot Oettinger has been characteristically clear as mud in explaining his plans for copyright reform. Speaking on Wednesday night to the European Parliament’s working group on copyright, H-dot seemed to call for a so-called ancillary copyright law. This type of law, which requires news aggregators to pay …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes your head spin

    I can see the point if Google scrapes news pages, say, and reproduces several paragraphs on its own News site - but a line or maybe two in a search result? You could equally well make the case that Google is using its IP to compile lists of relevant search results, and they should be able to charge the same news organisation for displaying a link and sending it traffic; I wonder how these organisations would like a pay-to-be-indexed charge?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Makes your head spin

      Not Google Search, they are talking about news.google.whatever.

      1. DarkWalker

        Re: Makes your head spin

        Which is just a specialized version of their search engine that displays a small snippet of the news and directs the reader to the original page if he wants to read the full thing.

        And, might I add, a specialized version that doesn't display adds.

        No matter. Google has already proved that they can play hardball. The publishers that want to work with Google, from countries that allow them to waive any fees to have their content indexed, will continue to receive traffic from Google; the ones that either don't want to allow Google to use snippets from their news stories without a fee, or that are from countries that don't allow them to do so, won't, and thus will be at a huge disadvantage.

        Unless the EU can make a news aggregator as popular as Google, with the added handicap that this news aggregator will have to pay to provide the snippets, this plan doesn't have a prayer of a chance of working.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Makes your head spin

          "Unless the EU can make a news aggregator as popular as Google, with the added handicap that this news aggregator will have to pay to provide the snippets"

          Lets hope the berks try. They're committed to wasting their budget anyway, so it's not exactly going to be a net loss to taxpayers if the Eurotwats try and code up a Google replacement. But it would be a joy to watch.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Makes your head spin

            Sure, as much fun as watching the NHS IT budget spiral into the heavens?

            Tell me that this type of ridiculous action doesn't impact taxpayers...ha.

            1. James O'Shea Silver badge

              Re: Makes your head spin

              "Tell me that this type of ridiculous action doesn't impact taxpayers...ha."

              It won't affect _my_ taxes.

              Yours, now...

              Perhaps once it _does_ start to affect taxpayers, said taxpayers might DO SOMETHING about the berks.

              Or not.

    2. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: Makes your head spin

      You could equally well make the case that Google is using its IP to compile lists of relevant search results, and they should be able to charge the same news organisation for displaying a link and sending it traffic; I wonder how these organisations would like a pay-to-be-indexed charge?

      A bit like those companies that send you a sketchy "invoice" for including your company in their "Business Directory" ?

  2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    New EU legislation should only cover what no longer works national level.

    Well, there's half of the civil servants in the european comission out of a job right away, they'll never stand for that.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      @ Phil O'Sophical

      Only half? It wasnt too long ago that a report found the EU opened no more markets to us than we had before and provided no better terms. Apart from a get together and more money to indulge themselves with the EU has yet to make a case for itself. A favourite idea is that it stops war from breaking out in europe, which also wasnt happening for some time before the EU and has caused the far left/right parties to gain votes as the only ones willing to offer an exit from the expensive club.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As in all other examples of this, Google loses nothing by just turning the service off, in fact probably saves them money.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Google loses money, but it can afford it for longer than the other companies it is trying to blackmail.

      In these kind of situation, the one with the deepest pockets always win....

      1. pepper

        Bit hazy on the details, but isnt it just delisting of the news websites in news.google? I can still happily find them by a normal google search.

        What baffles me more is that if users find google's offering so useful, why havent the news agencies made their own offering? Seems like a winner to me if properly executed.

        And on the 'blackmail' part, you cant expect to force a website to list you, and pay you for the honour if they wouldnt want to? I understand the monopoly google has but dont these laws affect all search websites?

        All in all, I dont really get the problem.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    But it looks like H-dot is sticking to his guns

    It looks like he's saying it didn't work nationally in Spain and Germany and he's proposing an EU directive to fix that across the whole continent.

    Or am I reading it wrong?

    1. Marcus Aurelius
      WTF?

      Re: But it looks like H-dot is sticking to his guns

      Translated: "It's failed in Spain and Germany, so we're going to screw things up the same way across all of Europe".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hypocrites!

    Google "aggregation" actually INCREASES the traffic on various European news websites. It's beneficial not adverserial.

    It further points out the obvious multiple attempts to single out Google for discriminatory retribution by the EU.

    Google needs to shut down any and all service in the EU now. The name Oettinger and all info on him and anyone related to him should be removed from the internet. Except the lawsuits that Google and it's owners should file immediately for restraint of trade, tortious interference, defamation, libel, slander and every thing they can think of.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Hypocrites!

      Google "aggregation" actually INCREASES the traffic on various European news websites. It's beneficial not adverserial.

      Careful.

      As long as Google News exists, it is beneficial for news websites to appear on it; because many users go to Google News and are generally satisfied with what they find there. Not appearing on it means definitively losing traffic from these users.

      If Google News disappears, however, these users will still look for news, in some other way. Some news sites will see less traffic (likely the small ones), and some will see more traffic (likely the big ones).

      There are definitely websites that are getting more traffic now that Google News has closed.

      1. Oninoshiko

        @ratfox

        Yep, stick it to the little guy. How noble!

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Hypocrites!

        "There are definitely websites that are getting more traffic now that Google News has closed."

        Yeah, non-Spanish news sites.

        Mate, if you aren't on Google you don't exist.

  6. ratfox Silver badge

    Catastrophic?

    In Spain, the more recent law has had an even more catastrophic effect

    Why catastrophic? It means that instead of getting results from a wide array of sources, Spaniards have to go directly to the news sites they know to get their news. If you are a user, or a small, little-know website, this is bad. If you are one of the big news sites, this might be very very good.

    The problem with Google News was that it forced the big news sites to compete with the rest of the planet. Now the problem has gone away. I'm guessing they have seen a bump in traffic and are celebrating. I doubt the law will change, and I doubt Google News will come back.

    1. Aedile

      Re: Catastrophic?

      It is bad for the following reasons:

      1. There isn't a bump in traffic. According to Chartbeat they have lost 10-15% traffic on average. https://gigaom.com/2014/12/16/traffic-to-spanish-news-publishers-plummets-after-google-move/

      2. The public has to suffer more while the newspapers get nothing. For example they can no longer run a single search on how Spain's stupid law caused Google News to close and see articles from a bunch of sources. Now they have to go to each newspaper site and search for their topic. This wastes time meaning they probably will read less on various topics and get a more myopic view.

      3. As you pointed out small businesses will get hosed and they will kill off most, if not all, aggregation sites. This will result in lost revenue/jobs and hurt the economy.

      4. Decreased competition usually means things will get crappier and have less innovation.

      5. The law is insane since using a single line is typically considered fair use. Furthermore, as people have pointed out Google driving traffic to their site is essentially the same as free advertising. Why wouldn't a business want that?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Catastrophic?

        1. The AEDE say that people will go directly to their website and they will end up with more traffic in the long term.

        2. Seems to sit well with the current government's agenda, earlier this year they've got the editors of three national newspapers replaced with others known not to have such outspoken opinions.

        3. What the lobbying groups want, the lobbying groups get. Nobody else is big enough to matter and is trodden underfoot. See also Spain's sunshine taxes and geothermal taxes after successful lobbying from the electricity industry.

        4. Protectionism is seen as a good thing.

        5. Because AEDE members are headed by fossils that have e-mails printed out for them and they get their secretaries to dictate the reply.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Catastrophic?

        This is a total shoot yourself in the foot proposal. Google will still publish the news, just from sites outside the EU. I already read the US version, I guess if I wanted it in spanish, I'd go the south american version.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Catastrophic?

      "Why catastrophic? It means that instead of getting results from a wide array of sources, Spaniards have to go directly to the news sites they know to get their news."

      Or they just use news.google.com and get news from "not Spain". There are a lot of Spanish speaking countries out there that are not Spain. Like the US, as one (fairly large) example.

      There's no reason to assume that Spaniards are going direct to eh website of Ruper Murdoch's Spanish Inquisition directly any more now than they were before. Strikes me you use Google News specifically when you don't want the spoon-fed neural pablum, but actually want to find out what the hell's going on.

  7. Mr Anonymous

    bluff

    Call google's bluff, they will not pull news out of Europe, they make money for users personal info gathered from interaction with their services.

    1. FunkyEric

      Re: bluff

      I wouldn't be so sure about that. Google are quite likely to stick to their guns to avoid setting a precedent that involves them paying for content!

  8. Tim Worstal

    Inerestingly, Yahoo News does charge people for traffic sent their way....,..

    1. DougS Silver badge

      They charge people or pay them? If they're charging, that's the opposite of the model the publishers want Google to work under...

    2. tom dial Silver badge

      "Yahoo News does charge people for traffic sent their way."

      Is that working well for them, then?

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        "Is that working well for them, then?"

        As a general rule, Yahoo News is less crap than Google....

  9. OmgTheyLetMePostInTheUK
    FAIL

    Some politicians are too stupid to understand when something has failed, and why it has failed. In this case, Google is offering a free service to anyone that wants to find news, and in the process, the news outlets get a lot of exposure, which can (and does) lead to more people visiting these news outlets sites.

    Every time someone passes a law that says "If you aggregate any copyrighted material, you must pay a fee", Google is going to withdraw the service since they do not place any advertising in the news section, and as such, gain no revenue from it.

    How this is supposed to suddenly work by making it an EU-wide law vs being single country laws is very difficult to understand. The only thing that changes is that 26 countries would be affected at once, and if that were to happen, Google would simply kill the news section for all 26 of those countries. And since Google News drives huge volumes of people to these news sites, you will see the news sites SCREAMING for an exemption to the law, or a repeal of the law, so that Google will resume driving the huge numbers of people to their sites.

    The only losers here, if the law is enacted EU-wide, is going to be the consumers and the news outlets. And since both have a reason for wanting Google to continue its news aggregation, maybe there will be enough resistance to stop these clueless politicians in this case. Or maybe not... Many times they do what they want despite what the people and the companies tell them.

    Only time will tell.

  10. earl grey Silver badge
    Trollface

    yahoo news?

    They have a yahoo news? who'd a thunk it. I never use yahoo (or bing).

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