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The European Commission, the EU’s executive, said it will consider whether “any action specific to news aggregators is needed, including intervening on the definition of rights”.
Ironically all this is happening after Brussels unveiled plans to loosen copyright rules in the 28-member bloc in order to allow citizens to watch more content online, as we reported earlier.
The publishers want a “Google Tax”, making online services pay to display news snippets.
Google News pulled out of Spain when a similar law was passed that would have forced it to pay for re-publishing headlines or snippets. In Germany, Axel Springer, the country’s top publisher, had to scrap a move to block Google from running snippets of articles from its newspapers because traffic to its sites plunged.
The Commission has said it will not tax hyperlinks, but was looking at the situations in France and Spain to see if they were delivering on their objectives. The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), whose members include Google, Yahoo and Microsoft called the idea of a link and snippet tax “ill-founded, controversial and detrimental to all players”.
More than 12 publishers and their associations have dashed off a letter to the Commission last week urging it not to introduce a Google Tax as it would make it harder for them to be discovered online.
A decision will be reached by the second quarter of 2016.