Senior German politicians have denounced as propaganda a campaign by
Google to mobilise public opinion against proposed legislation to let
publishers charge search engines for displaying newspaper articles.
lobbyists say they are worried the German law will set a precedent for
other countries such as France and Italy that have shown an interest in
having Google pay publishers for the right to show their news snippets
in its search results.
Lawmakers in Berlin will debate the bill in
the Bundestag (lower house) on Thursday. Google says the law would make
it harder for users to retrieve information via the Internet.
launched its campaign against the bill on Tuesday with advertisements
in German newspapers and a web information site called "Defend your
"Such a law would hit every Internet user in Germany,"
Stefan Tweraser, country manager for Google Germany, said in a
statement. "An ancillary copyright means less information for consumers
and higher costs for companies."
The campaign has caused outrage among some members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition.
"The campaign initiated by Google is cheap propaganda," said conservative lawmakers Guenter Krings and Ansgar Heveling.
the guise of a supposed project for the freedom of the Internet, an
attempt is being made to coopt its users for its own lobbying," the two
said in a statement.
Supporters of the law argue that newspaper
publishers should be able to benefit from advertising revenues earned by
search engines using their content.
Under the plans, publishers
would get a bigger say over how their articles are used on the Internet
and could charge search engines for showing articles or extracts.
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a member of the
Free Democrats (FDP) who share power in Merkel's government, said she
was astonished that Google was trying to monopolise opinion-making. She
is responsible for the law.
newspaper industry, suffering from economic slowdown and keen to get its
hands on any revenues it can, backs the plans and railed against
"The panic mongering from Google has no justification," Germany's BDZV newspaper association said in a statement.
argument from search engine companies that Internet searching and
retrieval will be made more difficult is not serious. Private use,
reading, following links and quoting will be possible, just as before."
lobbyists in Brussels fear the European Commission is sympathetic to
publisher demands for a piece of Google's profits online. Recent
statements, they say, are proof.
"Consumers are not the only ones
facing difficulties," Michel Barnier, the EU's internal market
commissioner, said in a speech on November 7. "Think of newspaper
publishers who see the content they produce being used by others to
attract consumers on the net and generate advertising revenues."
newspapers and magazines want Google to pay them for linking to their
articles on Google. The French government has named a mediator to
negotiate with the press and Google to try to get a deal by the end of
If no deal emerges, President Francois Hollande's
government will ask parliament to draft a law modifying copyright laws
to protect the press from appropriation of its content online, according
to a letter signed by two ministers on November 28.
© Thomson Reuters 2012