Google is clearly trying hard to portray a new German law involving the republishing of news as a victory, and some observers seem to agree, saying the company “defeated” publishers who wanted it to pay for the right to publish excerpts. But if you look more closely, this is not an obvious win for the search giant — just as recent deals with French publishers and Belgian publishers were a lot closer to being a saw-off for both sides than an outright win.
And with every deal it strikes, Google makes it harder to argue that paying publishers for excerpts is unnecessary and even counter-productive — or that there is something to be gained by allowing even large companies to engage in the “fair use” of content for the larger good.
As my colleague David Meyer has reported, Germany’s lower level of government, the Bundestag, passed a bill on Friday known colloquially as the “Google Law.” It doesn’t officially become legislation until it is approved by the second chamber, the Bundesrat, but it has already caused a firestorm of criticism — much of that stoked by Google and its “Defend Your Internet” campaign. The law was promoted by most of Germany’s major media companies, who believe Google News is stealing their content by including excerpts of news stories.
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