Germany passes new ‘watered down’ copyright law

March 2013



German lawmakers approved legislation on Friday that grants publishers the right to charge search engines and other online aggregators for reproducing their content but continues to allow the free use of text in links and brief summaries.

In it’s original form, the law was seen as a clear attempt to force big Internet companies like Google to share some of the billions of euros they earn from the sale of advertising placed alongside the news that Google links to. But a last-minute change, proposed last week by the Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in the German government, allowed for the use of “individual words or the smallest excerpts of text” free, meaning that only those companies who reproduce full texts for commercial use will be required to compensate the news publishers. Google welcomed the fact that only a weakened version had passed but made clear its opposition to any form of legislation and the Financial Time headline perhaps says it all – ‘Google wins Germany copyright battle’.

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