Google Shows What Google News Looks Like If Article 11 Passes In The EU Copyright Directive

from the bye-bye-news-content dept

While much of the focus concerning the EU's Copyright Directive have been about Article 13 and the censorship and mandatory filters it will require, an equally troubling part is Article 11, which will create a "snippet" tax on anyone who aggregates news and sends traffic back to the original sites (for free) without paying those news sites. This is dumb for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that this plan has been tried in both Germany and Spain, and failed miserably in both places. Indeed, studies in Spain showed that this law actually did tremendous harm to smaller news sites (which the EU insists this law is designed to help). The latest version we've seen in the EU Copyright Directive is even worse than the laws in Germany and Spain in that it is so vague and so unclear that it is possible to read them to say that using more than a single word will make the aggregator liable for the tax.

In Spain, as you may recall, when that law was passed, Google responded by turning off Google News in Spain entirely, saying that it was impossible to remain in the country under that law. As they noted (and which everyone pushing for these laws always ignores), Google actually doesn't put any advertisements on Google News. It's not monetizing it (despite lies from supporters of these laws that Google is "profiting" off of their work, when Google is actually sending traffic for free). So there were some questions about what Google would do with Google News in Europe if Article 11 becomes law.

The company has now hinted at its plans by leaking a beta test of what Google News would look like under Article 11. The answer? It would look almost entirely empty:


As you can see, because the tax applies to using any words from the articles, what a "compliant" Google News looks like is a Google News page where none of the content actually loads. All you get is the names of the publications and nothing else.

Of course, this is going to infuriate supporters of Article 11, who will insist that this is awful and some terrible game that Google is playing. But it's their own fault for writing a law that says this is what you have to do. Supporters will again argue that this is not what they intended -- instead, the whole point of Article 11 is to try to force Google to "license" the news it links to. But these leaked screenshots more or less highlight how the EU Copyright Directive is truly little more than a shakedown of Google. Basically, the entire point of the law is "Google, give money to failing newspapers, or we'll force your News site to look like shit." And Google is suggesting it might just call the EU's bluff on this.

At the very least, this makes it clear that the entire point of the EU Copyright Directive -- especially Articles 11 and 13 -- are a weak attempt to say "Google is successful, therefore, Google should give a lot more of its money to companies that haven't been successful in the internet age." If the EU just named it "the tax Google because our own industries failed to innovate" Directive, it would at least be a bit more intellectually honest.

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Filed Under: article 11, copyright, eu, eu copyright directive, google news, link tax, news aggregation, snippet tax
Companies: google


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2019 @ 8:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The discussions here have been about altering copyright law or enforcement to the point of imposing a new business model rather than letting one develop naturally.

    Has one, though? The RIAA took years before they could be convinced that iTunes without DRM was the way to go. Developing naturally doesn't happen when you actively fight it at every turn.

    The rightsholders have not gotten on board with the model some would love to see imposed on them.

    They were very much on board with Article 13 due to all the controls they could implement. Once they realized that provisions existed to compromise on these controls if they were misused, though, they started singing a different tune. Very quickly. Nothing is being imposed on them aside from some sanity and balance, and the fact that they're throwing such a tantrum as their first response is very telling.

    The users who supply UGC have chosen to give away their content for the most part, resulting in tech behemoths who are little more than aggregators.

    The middleman argument. Funny how an industry "devastated by piracy" can still afford to pay RIAA CEOs increasing amounts of bonus protection money year after year after year. While also claiming that piracy continues unchecked and unaffected. If piracy isn't being fought then why are you giving a guy who apparently failed his job a pay rise? How are you affording this pay rise if the lack of money was why you engaged him to begin with?

    The slew of articles here relating to copyright attempt to lead the reader to conclude that copyright law should be changed or its teeth removed.

    The teeth haven't been removed. The teeth were always there. Your indiscriminate biting of anyone and everyone you don't agree with in an attempt to harass settlement money is the reason why judges are scrutinizing your methods. That's your fault, not anybody else's. All because you can't be bothered to make sure your IP address matched.

    Why not put pirates in prison since what they're doing is cyber-terrorism, given how much damage it causes?

    Firstly, because the amount of damage you regularly allege has never been proven. Your only justification for statutory damages is for deterrence, suggesting that damages rarely, if ever, reach the amounts you demand for. Seriously, the industry has been "damaged" for years and yet every year they keep boasting about how recession-proof they are. Which is it? Are you a golden industry immune to economic changes of the world or aren't you?

    Secondly, your enforcement is terrible. You can't even exact a fine out of people because you insist on suing easy targets, not guilty parties. Any time a judge questions your standards of evidence you scream "DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE" and run like hell to lick your wounds. Malibu Media, who you often like to emulate, haven't seen a single lawsuit go all the way in 2018 despite filing papers to the point where porn suits dominated copyright enforcement.

    Thirdly, the parallel of copyright infringement with terrorism is an escalation nobody with any rational mind will believe. No hacking is involved, no government is compromised. It's a sad attempt to parallel copyright infringement with things like rape or arson for the sake of eliciting sympathy, which you have rightly not gotten thanks to your refusal to punish copyright infringement like theft, based on actual damages and a higher standard of evidence.

    Fourthly, jail means reduced or no fines included in the punishment. Which would remove the meal ticket for many of your compatriots so don't expect them to get behind this idea.

    Underneath all this editorializing there is no basis for swiping protected work from those who create it.

    You're fighting snippets. Short summaries. If the existence single short summary completely undermines your entire article you've got far bigger problems on your hands.


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