German Bundestag votes on 'Google Tax'

German Bundestag votes on 'Google Tax'

Summary: Germany's ruling coalition has used it majority in the Bundestag to vote in a new addendum to the German copyright law which could require news aggregators to pay publishing houses for using their free content.

TOPICS: Google

On Friday, Germany's ruling coalition of liberals and conservatives voted for a "Leistungsschutzrecht" — an addendum to German copyright law — which would allow content creators such publishing houses to charge services that aggregate news.

The motion passed the German Bundestag with 294 votes to 243 votes against it, although this doesn't mean it will come into effect. It still has to pass the Bundesrat, where the opposition has more votes than the ruling coalition. The law is scheduled to be discussed again on March 22.

The discussion around the proposed law mainly focused on so called "snippets".

These are short text information from the target website, such as the headline and all or a part of the introduction.

Aggregators are allowed to use these snippets for free but any more than that could lead to payments to publishers — and importantly, there is no definition of how long these snippets ought to be.

As a result, the proposed Leistungsschutzrecht could force commercial news aggregators to pay media companies for indexing and showing articles.

According to the supporters of the copyright addendum, news aggregators are taking the content produced by media companies for free and earn money with it. Although it is possible to deny the indexing of websites, publishing houses don't want to lock Google and others out — they want a piece of the earnings.

Opponents of the proposed law see it not only as a danger to the free flow of information, but also find it unnecessary, since it is possible to get the content indexed without being displayed in Google News. Most of the opponents see it as a play by media houses that struggle with monetizing content on the internet.

The discussion around the Leistungsschutzrecht is similar to debates in France and Belgium.

Google and French publishing houses reached an agreement: Google now books advertisement on French media websites and gets access to the content.

After a court battle in Belgium Google started to de-index all the content of publishers. Shortly after that, both parties then came to an agreement.

Topic: Google

Moritz Jaeger

About Moritz Jaeger

Moritz is a Munich-based IT-journalist with more than eight years of experience as an author under his belt.

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  • Crazy talk of fearful legislation.

    Sad to see Germany considering this.
  • Simply silly

    Taxing free content.....I would say sure 1% on 0 is 0 (unfortunately they will try to tie an amount to this). Problem solved. If they want Google's free advertising (hosting bit of their article in search results) then use it and don't ask for payment or ask Google to de-list you. If you are going to make something accessible on the internet for free then it is for free to everyone (the internet doesn't care who you are)
    • hmhm

      Sadly, this knowledge didn't reach the fax machines of some politicans. Plus, we have elections coming up and the media houses who are supporting liberals and conservatives are mostly the samethat really, really, really would like the law.
  • German Bundestag

    How come every johnny come lately wants to be on the internet but not under the rules of the internet? They want there own rules if you do not like it here dont post here it is that simple and no one should have to put up with this and ever IP from this place should be blocked As I will do on my routers.