Regulators in Europe are proposing a big update to copyright law in the region that, if adopted, would likely to lead to major changes in the way your news aggregators, well, aggregate.
There’s an absolutely bonkers amount of news out there in the great wide world on any given day, so millions of us use some kind of aggregator or search tool to wade our way through it. And when you search for a story, or browse a category of news, you often get a little snipped of the article in question to go along with its headline and header image. For example, browsing Google News leads to results like this:
But those excerpts, the European Commission says, are copyrighted information. And, as the Wall Street Journal reports, that’s where this all gets complicated.
The EU’s copyright proposal would mandate that member nations all permit news publishers to claim compensation from internet companies for those snippets. So for example, if you’re in Italy, Google for some news, and get an excerpt from la Repubblica on your screen, the paper could demand payment from Google for the sentence you read.
Think about how many news outlets there are out there. Now think about how many million internet users are in the EU, searching for news every day. Put those together, and you can see why companies like Google would not be happy.
Individual EU nations have enacted similar measures in the past. A few years back, Spain passed a law requiring Google to pay publishers for displaying any portion of their work. The result? Google News is no longer available in Spain.
A similar law in Germany led to standoffs between media companies and the search engine giant when Google refused to pay anyone, publishers stopped being listed, and traffic to their sites plummeted.
The European Commission’s proposal is a little different form the Spanish law, because news publishers would be able to negotiate different kinds of arrangements with web services, the WSJ says. But in reality, that’s unlikely to do anyone any good: Google has enough leverage, bluntly, to refuse any terms other than “free or we don’t list you.”
The Commission is expected to make the formal proposal to amend the EU’s copyright rules in late September.
Internet Companies May Have to Pay Publishers for News Under New EU Rules [Wall Street Journal]