In a move aimed at helping newspapers generate new revenue from struggling online operations, the German government intends to require search engines and other Internet companies to pay publishers whose content they highlight.
The German governing coalition, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said last week that it planned to introduce legislation to create a new kind of copyright for online publishers. Under the proposal, Internet aggregators and search engines would have to pay the publishers if they wanted to display all or parts of their articles — even small snippets like those that are shown in search links.
The proposal was cheered by German publishers, who complain that Internet companies like Google have profited hugely from their content, while generating only scraps of digital revenue.
“In the digital age, such a right is essential to protect the joint efforts of journalists and publishers,” the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers said, adding that it was “an essential measure for the maintenance of an independent, privately financed news media.”
But the announcement set off howls of protest from Internet companies and bloggers, who said the proposal could threaten free speech and stunt the development of the digital economy in Germany.
The proposal, in an announcement of the coalition’s legislative agenda, follows intense lobbying by publishers, after the idea was initially put forward several years ago.
The plan authorizes ministers to draft a bill, which is expected to go to the Bundestag, the lower house of Parliament, this summer.
The proposal addresses a debate that has raged since the early days of the Internet: Who benefits more from digital links and the traffic they generate — search engines, aggregators and other online hubs, or the sites that produce the content?
Google does not sell advertising on its German news aggregation service, which displays snippets of articles and links to the originating sites. But the company earns billions of euros from advertising on its search engine and other services.
Most German newspaper publishers, on the other hand, generate only minuscule revenue online from advertising or other sources, like so-called pay walls around their content.
2012-03-17 13:39 编辑：crystal156
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