After lobbying by publishers and a resulting new law governing how news can be reused, the Mountain View search company made Google News aggregation opt-in only on Thursday. And, despite rallying against the practice, German publishers have agreed to let their content remain on the news service.
As of today, major German news sites Bild.de, die Welt, and Spiegel Online all continue to be aggregated in Google News. According to a spokesman for Axel Springer (which publishes the national tabloid Bild as well as the daily die Welt), the company's news sites are opting-in on a strictly temporary basis while it develops a strategy, presumably to try to gain a greater share of the revenue Google makes from the aggregation.
"During this transitional period, Axel Springer issued an opt-in for the use of content by Google Germany," the spokesman said, adding that the opt-in could be revoked at any time.
Before that happens, if indeed it does, the company is "making preparations" including "conversations with other publishers, collecting societies, tariffs, legal and technical issues, authority approval".
Publishers' continuing consent to being aggregated by Google News is something of a departure from the their recent lobbying stance.
Since last year, some major German news publishers have been rallying against what they saw as an infringement of copyright: the aggregation of story headlines and snippets by Google News. Publishers (including Axel Springer) argued strongly that Google's aggregation practice was essentially stealing, and if the search company wanted to continue to aggregate their news content, it needed to pay them to do so.
Because of the lobbying, the German government passed a law earlier this year that regulated the so-called use of 'snippets', essentially saying that aggregation services such as Google could continue to use publishers' headlines and snippets for free, but if they used any more content, then company would have to pay.
As a result of the law, from 1 August, Google News in Germany became opt-in for publishers. Now, if publishers would like Google to index their content, they have to give the company explicit permission to do so.
German news publishers have taken a somewhat confrontational stance on Google News, compared to the way in which publishers in France and Belgium have responded. In both of those countries, Google has negotiated arrangements with the publishers, who can now use content monetisation platforms like AdSense; and in France, Google has set up a fund to help finance innovation in news.