Google hints at possible closure News service in EU

Nov

19

2018

as ‘link tax’ continues
Richard Gingras, vice president of Google’s news division, does not exclude that his company in EU member states will close the Google News service when the current EU plans for the introduction of a “link tax” continue.

Gingras tells The Guardian that he does not think it desirable to close services, but that his company is very concerned about the current proposals for the introduction of a link tax. He says that the future of Google News may depend on whether the European Union is prepared to amend the legal texts in the new copyright directive. This is Article 11 of the directive, which introduces a new right for publishers of press publications. This way, for example, they can ask a fee for taking over their texts. The fear is that this will lead, among other things, to a situation in which hyperlinks are at stake.

The Google Director points to the situation in Spain in 2014 when the country wanted Google to pay for indexing articles; Google then pulled the plug from the news service in Spain within a month. Spanish publishers were not happy with that , because Google News was too dominant. In Germany, in 2014, attempts were also made to limit the power of Google. About two hundred publishers decided to forbid Google to quote their articles in search results and in Google News. This action was terminated within two weeks, because the traffic to the articles dropped by forty percent from the search engine and 60 percent from Google News.

Previously, the YouTube director Susan Wojcicki also criticized another article from the new copyright directive. This criticism is not about the link tax of article 11, but especially the text in article 13, which according to critics leads to the introduction of ‘upload filters’. Wojcicki fears that the new rules could destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs in the EU and that it even leads to a situation where content is being blocked for EU citizens . The criticism of Article 13 is that platforms become directly responsible for content that infringes the copyrights of copyright holders. In practice, it is probably so difficult to prevent liability, that internet platforms take it for granted and therefore leave them nothing else than setting up upload filters.

On 12 September , the EU Parliament approved a text for the new copyright directive. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission are still negotiating the final text within the EU. The final rules are therefore not yet definitive, although it seems unlikely that major changes will be made. It is expected that the final text will be final no later than sometime next year, after which Member States will probably have to introduce the rules within two years. This means that the rules could be in effect from the beginning of 2021. Tweakers published an article in September that elaborates on the rules concerning articles 11 and 13.

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