German publishers say Google won't get the same deal it got in France

The French settlement with Google doesn't solve the publishers' problems, the Germans said

German newspaper and magazine publishers said Monday that they won't give Google the same copyright deal as it struck with French publishers to settle a dispute over revenue lost when news article snippets appear in search results.

Google and other search engines often republish parts of news articles in their search results without the publishers' consent, generating advertising revenue that isn't shared with the publishers. French, Belgian and German publishers have been demanding compensation for this claimed revenue loss.

On Friday, Google announced that to settle the dispute it created a ¬60 million (US$81 million) innovation fund to help French publishers transition to the digital age. The deal let Google avoid the introduction of a law that was floated last year, that could have made the search giant pay for republishing news snippets.

As part of the deal, Google said it would help publishers increase online revenues using its advertising technology. The initiative is similar to a deal struck with Belgian publishers last December. Shortly after that settlement, Belgian publishers announced plans to introduce a shared paywall system called Media ID, making a large part of their content only available to paying readers.

While Google managed to settle in Belgium and France, they are not likely to strike a similar deal with German publishers. "The agreement is not a model for Germany," said the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and the Federation of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) in a combined news release responding to the French deal.

And while the French settlement makes clear that the aggregation of publishers' content costs them money, the chosen solutions bets on Google's search monopoly, the German publishers said. The deal has the disadvantage that it only applies to a single aggregator, leaving the French publishers with no alternative to defend themselves against other aggregators now and in the future, they added.

By striking this deal, the French publishers have shut off the option to get a legal remedy against organizations that aggregate their content without consent, the German federations said. Other aggregators are unlikely to be threatened with a similar "link tax" by the French government, making negotiations the only hope for publishers, they added.

The German government is in the process of crafting a law that would allow publishers to charge search engines such as Google for reproducing short snippets from news articles. Yahoo, Facebook and German online startups followed Google's example last week slamming the proposal, saying that it does more harm than good.

The German publishers however, contend the law is necessary to protect publishers' rights and provide a legal basis to prohibit undesirable uses and to authorize desired uses of their content.

A Google spokesman would not comment directly on the German publishers' statement Monday, but e-mailed a previous comment on the proposed law: "An ancillary copyright endangers one of the fundamental principles of the web, the possibility to share and search for information through links. The law would let users not always find what they are searching for. It would be detrimental for jobs and growth in Germany as almost half of the German economy already depends on the Internet. We hope that the German parliament will oppose to the draft law."

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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