New German government fights Google from start

Thu 29 October 2009 11:00, Bas van den Beld

New German government fights Google from start

A couple of weeks ago Angela Merkel addressed the topic of online journalism and the Google bookcase in her weekly vodcast. She then wasn't re-elected yet.

Yesterday the new German government was formally sworn in. She then flew off to Paris, but not before her new government issued a document in which it announced a new way to "protect online journalism". The measures the new government intends to take could have a big impact on the way Google can do its business in Germany.

The new coalition, set up with Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Free Democratic Party says “The Internet cannot be a copyright-free zone,” in a document describing its policies. If the policies are made actual publishers could be able to claim royalties for their content. Which would mean Google would have to pay them.

The proposal is supported by publishers like Axel Springer and Hubert Burda Media. On the other hand German bloggers oppose. They believe this is only good for publishers and that it runs against the spirit of openness that characterizes the internet.

The proposal would mean publishers would have a 'neighboring right', which is already common with some music labels and movie houses. They would be issuing a license for any commercial use of material.  Websites, so not just Google, that post articles from other sources and are selling adds, would be affected by the measurement.

The new government also stated it will not be going the direction in which France and the UK are going when it comes to copyright-enforcement. There downloaders can be possibly banned from the internet for a certain amount of time. Merkel's coalition doesn't want to be aggressive in this area, but aims its arrows at Google.

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