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EU Copyright Reform Proposes Search Engines Pay For Snippets (thestack.com) 172

An anonymous Slashdot reader reports that the European Commission "is planning reforms that would allow media outlets to request payment from search engines such as Google, for publishing snippets of their content in search results." The Stack reports: The working paper recommends the introduction of an EU law that covers the rights to digital reproduction of news publications. This would essentially make news publishers a new category of rights holders under copyright law, thereby ensuring that "the creative and economic contribution of news publishers is recognized and incentivized in EU law, as it is today the case for other creative sectors."
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EU Copyright Reform Proposes Search Engines Pay For Snippets

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    the eu does some o.k. things, but then they pull stuff like this out of their collective asses.

    just the administration of some bullshit like this is going to cost so much more than the 'snippets' are worth....

    and where 'fair use' exists, 'snippets' are covered so long as they are just a very short excerpt. so, sorry, bub. try again.

    • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @05:29AM (#52784327) Journal

      Why does "copyright reform" always mean increasing copyright, either what it protects or overall term. never a reduced term or increased "fair use".

      • by qeveren ( 318805 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @06:00AM (#52784375)

        Because you don't pay enough to buy the laws you want.

        • Like it or not: the money that does buy laws that the recording industry wants, ultimately comes from us, consumers. So perhaps we shouldn't be buying DVD's etc, but use that money to buy politicians ourselves? Anyone for some crowdfunding actions? ;-)

          • Buying laws only works because people fall for politicians' campaigning. Ultimately only the voters control who gets to make the laws, but as long as those voters pay as little attention to who they are electing as we (collectively) often do and believe the special-interest-funded campaigning as much as we (collectively) often do, the rot will continue.

            Unfortunately, copyright is one of those issues that is just not that interesting to most people, as long as they can carry on ripping Game of Thrones and sh

            • by HiThere ( 15173 )

              The real problem is that we can't "you don't represent me" them when they start acting objectionably. Once they get elected, the control is over until the next cycle.

              One possible way to combat this would be to make the votes that a politician can wield proportional to the number of people currently signed on to him rather than to someone else...and to make it easy to switch your vote to someone else within, say, half an hour. This has a lot of problems with potential voter fraud, but it would let people d

              • Well, I'm with you on that principle as well. I can't see how an alternative scheme such as you suggested could be workable in practice, but if you had proposed some reasonable power of recall I would probably have agreed.

                Still, even without that, it helps if we at least elect people who might act in our interests in the first place. Until money is an acceptable substitute for votes, the voters still have all the power on that one if they only choose to use it.

          • Or gets extorted from businesses by their legally-enshrined shakedown mobs.

          • And then CD/DVD/etc sales will drop, the industry will claim that this is due to piracy, and will call for harsher laws.

            Or, more realistically, a big boycott will be called for, few will participate, and the industry won't even notice as they roll on by.

      • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @12:23PM (#52785201)

        Why does "copyright reform" always mean increasing copyright

        It doesn't. Around two years ago, the UK government passed a law that created a private copying exception, thus finally legalising things like format shifting or using cloud services as long as someone had a legitimate personal copy and it was not being shared around.

        Of course, less than a year later, that law was struck down after a judicial review, because EU.

        And that wasn't an isolated incident, as we see here. The EU is fast turning into global enemy #1 for progressive copyright reform. It's a huge supporter of big rightsholders at the expense of everyone else.

        • by AJWM ( 19027 )

          You want Brexit? Because this is how you get Brexit...

          • Well, yes. The official campaigns argued as if Brexit was only about immigration and the economy, but in reality I suspect a lot of people voted to leave on the basis of democratic deficit and sovereignty arguments, a belief that the EU shouldn't be used to override national laws in this way. And frankly, in this specific context, I think they are right.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by augustw ( 785088 )

          because EU.

          No, not "because EU". Only one of the claimants' several arguments concerned EU law. What the judge called "Issue VI" -- which was "Does the introduction of Section 28B constitute unlawful State aid within the meaning of Article 107 TFEU which was not notified to the Commission under Article 108(3) TFEU and so is unlawful?".

          And that argument failed. Paragraph 302, onwards: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/w... [judiciary.gov.uk]

          • Yes, because EU. The entire basis for this disagreement was whether or not the UK government was allowed to introduce a private copying exception of the form that it did given the EU rules. If the government were not constrained by the EU Directive, all the questions about whether any harm was de minimis and pricing-in and so on would be moot.

      • by SumDog ( 466607 )

        "Fair Use" has much more protection in the US. Many other countries (Japan, and many EU countries) either don't have a concept for fair use, or it's very limited.

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Sorry, but "fair use" within the US only works as a defense if the court agrees with you. Which means you've got to pay for a lawsuit, and you don't get the money back even if you win.

          Also, "fair use" within the US is not well-defined, so trying that as your defense is always a crap-shoot (admittedly some cases are clearer than other, but even one measure of music has been found to not fall under fair use).

  • Google's reply? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 28, 2016 @03:40AM (#52784017)

    "Well, we'd rather not have to pay, so... we'll just not index your content anymore. kthxbye"

    (Meanwhile Microsoft probably had something to say too, but nobody asked.)

    • Google misses China so much, very doubtful they also kiss Europe bye bye.
      • by bjwest ( 14070 )
        Delisting content from media outlets is hardly kissing Europe goodbye. There's much much more indexed than just commercial media.
        • Re:Google's reply? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dangerous_Minds ( 1869682 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @05:23AM (#52784307)
          Indeed. By all means big publishers, demand money from Google. When Google delists you, all that juicy traffic will go to the smaller independent news sites who will be more than happy to make some extra ad impressions. Heck, I would go so far as to say some of them are jumping up and down in excitement over the prospect of some of the big media outlets cutting themselves out of that stream of traffic.
          • by kwoff ( 516741 )
            The EU could declare it discriminitory to exclude those sites and impose fines or whatever else is necessary.
            • The EU could declare it discriminitory to exclude those sites and impose fines or whatever else is necessary.

              Which should get overturned as not wanting to pay for something you don't want can hardly be called discriminatory. In other words, it is not discrimination, in the evil sense, to decline services because you don't wanna pay their fee.

            • Nope, they've requested they not be listed.

      • Re:Google's reply? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @04:44AM (#52784209)

        We're not talking about delisting a continent, only its media outlets. I can't think of anything more devastating.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          The news sites really, really don't get it, do they?

          Google made Google News and gets revenue from including snippets. They think they should get some of that revenue because they provide the content. Perfectly reasonable until you remember that most of that content is a generic commodity. Other sites provide equally good snippets for all news stories.

          • Reasonable or not reasonable doesn't even enter the equation, Google got them by the balls. You hand out your snippets for free or nobody will see your page.

            • Google got them by the balls. You hand out your snippets for free or nobody will see your page.

              Maybe, but I'm not sure the news businesses don't have a point on this one.

              News is very much about the headlines and near real time information. There are lots of real people doing real work to generate that information stream for readers/viewers, both at the news outlets themselves and via the agencies that are in turn paid substantial amounts of money by the news outlets. There is definitely a reasonable argument that automatically scraping the key information to republish on other sites is not transforma

              • News is very much about the headlines and near real time information.

                This is why the news sites are a load of piss.

                If they had actual well-informed, readable articles for people with more attention span than a goldfish, people might value them more than snippets, but since snippets is all they have, they are reaping the consequences.

                • The better news sites do provide more detailed and well-informed content. Unfortunately, it turns out that many of their readers still have the attention span of a goldfish, and thus that their headlines and early commentary are disproportionately valuable to those readers, regardless of the quality or quantity of the additional work from the news reporters.

              • f they all banded together and started marking their robots.txt files

                THIS is the issue. If they wanted to not be listed by Google, there are existing mechanisms for this WHICH ACTUALLY WORK. This entire conversation is about "Google is making tons of money, and we are a dying breed, so instead of revitalizing our entire industry we're going to BLAME ONE SINGLE COMPANY and then try to extort billions of dollars from them." Seriously folks, if you *really* think you don't gain anything from Google indexing your content and flashing snippets at people then USE ROBOTS.TXT If

                • This is also a fair point. Even if it is legally up to the publishers to decide whether they are willing to allow others to reproduce that part of their content, it's their own problem if they make the wrong decision and it costs them. That's just business.

          • Content (Score:4, Insightful)

            by pablo_max ( 626328 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @09:34AM (#52784775)

            And that is the point. It is "content", not news anymore. Hardly anyone is "reporting" on anything. Look at nearly every single tech site. They only just regurgitate press releases from this or that manufacture or "report" on what was written on some other site.
            Everything they post is skin deep drivel.
            Most of the "so called" news sites are nothing more than click bait at best and attempts to brainwash the masses into adopting the political message of whoever owns the site.
            There are a couple of sites which I do carry a subscription to, but those are the few who really take the time to research their articles.

            Google would be doing us a favor to just delist nearly all sites.

        • We're not talking about delisting a continent, only its media outlets. I can't think of anything more devastating.

          I can think of one thing: Alphabet buys several small media outlets around the world, aggregates it all, makes it free for anyone to use and effectively makes the existing media outlet sites irrelevant.

          I would love to see the look on their faces when they heard everyone was still getting news, just not from them.

      • A search engine could provide links to a news item without showing any of the content. Of course, that will heavily devalue the news item in question, but if the EU insists on trying to destroy any notion of fair use, there will be inevitable casualties.

        Maybe Google could just pay for the rights to access AP, Reuters and the other news wires, and then just say "Fuck it" to the news publishers, much of their content coming from exactly the same sources.

    • by c ( 8461 )

      "Well, we'd rather not have to pay, so... we'll just not index your content anymore. kthxbye"

      More like "well, it turns out that it's gotten too expensive to send you traffic for free, so we're gonna have to start charging by the click. But don't worry, we'll just take it out of what we owe you for using your content..."

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        Why would they bother? Most "news sources" aren't news originators even at a local level, so just deal directly with the sources, and if the "news sources" want to get back on, charge them for the privilege (plus requiring some rather explicit legal terns).

        That sounds a lot easier, and legally safer.

        • by c ( 8461 )

          Why would they bother?

          To break the argument.

          These sorts of laws are based on the premise that Google is taking something for free and the news sources get nothing back. That's obviously a false premise, but that doesn't seem to be getting through to the people that matter and even making an example of entire countries doesn't seem to be enough to make the problem go away.

          So, play hardball; if the news sources think their content is worth something, maybe Google's aggregation and traffic services should be w

          • I don't think this law is a good idea, but Google does stretch the meaning of a snippet with some of their smart search results. They literally keep me from having to click a link in many instances by giving me the information I need within the first part of the results. The website they pull that info from is losing out on my "business" as a result. If it was just the link/title/abbreviated unformatted first 200 characters of the page that most google results show, then I see absolutely no trouble.
            • by c ( 8461 )

              They literally keep me from having to click a link in many instances by giving me the information I need within the first part of the results.

              Well, that raises an interesting question... if the information in an article is so lean that a computer algorithm can boil it down into a trivial amount of text, then is the article really a creative work that's worthy of copyright protection? And would Google's algorithm be considered a transformative fair use (or fair dealing, or whatever the EU standard is)?

  • Many proposals are made by a lot of people within the EC and many of them are rejected. This one is gonna be rejected so fast Google will not even hear about it.
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      Even if it does pass, I really don't see this one being a problem for the search engines - just the opposite, in fact given the way Google responded to a similar legislative attempt in Spain. It's a "request for payment", at least in this version, so I would imagine it'll go down like this: Some media outlets "request" payment. The search engines cough up some cash for past transgressions and strip the snippets from future search results for those companies. Search engine users click on alternative link
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Alternatively Google and Microsoft will start using their paraphrasing engines to sidestep the copyrights entirely. Copyright is a restriction on a verbatim copy of the original, so their algorithms just need to change a bit here and there while still keeping the gist, and then they win for free.

        • They should hire TheRegister editors to train the algorithms. Then I might go back to reading news.
        • Then we get a resurrection of that other gem of an EU proposal (which I believe was also instigated by the news outlets): the notion that simply linking to content constitutes copyright infringement.
          • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
            Perhaps, but again, it just demonstrates that the media companies simply don't get it and having cut of their own nose have now proceeded to remove other facial features. People don't use search engines to find out what's going on in the world (e.g. the snippets of news articles of TFS), they'll go directly to their MSM site(s) of choice for that with no linking or royalties required, or go through a new aggregator. People use a search engine for news stories because they either already know what they are
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This idea was already implemented in Germany (Leistungsschutzrecht, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancillary_copyright_for_press_publishers). It failed completely as google just stopped linking to some of the papers and they suddenly had a drop in their user counts and advertisement revenue. So especially google never paid anything. So it's strange that they try to implement in the whole EU if it's obvious that is does not work like intended...

  • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @04:29AM (#52784159)

    When you see something like this your first reaction is bound to be, "Well, stupid ignorant politicians proposing foolish laws that wouldn't work - yet again". And yet... politicians aren't always stupid and ignorant. Many of them have a certain low rat-like cunning, especially when it comes to getting and keeping office, and currying favour with the rich and powerful who can help them. So, just as a hypothesis, what more might be behind a proposal like this?

    The obvious starting point is that, rather than pay a tax to content owners in return for doing the service of indexing and making known what they have to offer, search engine companies would simply stop indexing all such material. That would be really bad, huh? Or would it... from a certain point of view. Suppose you own the New York Times or The Guardian or some other boring obnoxious conventional media outlet. Your view of the Web is probably pretty jaundiced. It's full of people who find your stories through search engines and then read them for free - unless you put up a paywall, in which case they just stop coming altogether. Moreover, increasingly they don't even want your lousy stories because they can find so much better and more up-to-date material on the Web, from a thousand independent and dynamic sources. In fact, in the long run your company is probably facing bankruptcy sooner or later because it can't compete with what's available (mostly free) online. Not good. Wouldn't it be marvellous if someone could put a stop to all this "Web" nonsense and take us all back to the good ol' days when you just had to pay for your newspaper and your cable TV and take whatever they gave you? Wouldn't it?

    The search engines could just stop indexing such sites, but over time - at least, so the politicians might think - that would shrink the search engines' usefulness so much that they might go right out of business. Oh boo-hoo, the conventional media owners would grin, rubbing their hands happily. What a terrible shame.

    And we, who rely so much on the Web, would find it that much less rich and useful. We really should be thinking about how to react to politicians, responding to their rich buddies, who want to shut down the free Web and replace it with a monitored, controlled pay-per-view thing much along the lines of what Bill Gates had in mind before the Web came along and spoiled his day.

  • They'll just remove the newspapers from search results, just like the other umpteen times it was tried.

  • by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @05:59AM (#52784373)
    "is planning reforms that would allow media outlets to request payment from search engines such as Google, for publishing snippets of their content in search results"

    IMO they got that backwards. It's not the outlets that drive traffic to search engines, it's the search engines that help that traffic to reach the outlets.

    If I were a search engine provider/developer, I just might happen to come up with the idea to require outlets to pay me for indexing their content in the first place.

    There's nothing forcing search engines to index the idiots' contents. They should actually be either thankful that they can be found, or create a better search engine that they can control - and which noone will use.

    Lots of content providers would never be found without the search engines. They should be a bit more humble and re-evaluate who's who in this relationship.
  • what if search engines just dropped all your data and info completely and then you just disappeared off the internet completely??? then the cost of advertising your products and services would quadruple
  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @06:35AM (#52784449) Homepage

    Journalism is almost entirely taking "snippets" from other people in the form of quotes and information and compiling them into a story, so I must assume the newspapers will also be paying out royalties on their articles to anyone they interview, mention, or quote (including when they search for comments on twitter and facebook as they like to do now).

  • by jeti ( 105266 ) on Sunday August 28, 2016 @06:46AM (#52784473) Homepage
    They tried this before specifically with news snippets.

    News publishers are struggling to make money on the internet, but they still have political influence. So the idea was to force Google to share some of its profits by forcing it to pay license fees for the snippets on news.google.com. Lobbyists claimed that this would only be used to target Google and smaller services needn't worry.

    What happened of course, was that that Google discontinued the service in the relevant countries and the number of news readers plummeted. The publishers gave Google an exception to get their visitors back. Now the only result is that anyone from bloggers to other news aggregators is facing legal problems. They can contact the publishers, but are usually ignored.

    As a result, the legislation only cemented Googles dominance.

  • Should the robots file be updated to indicate a site requires payment to appear in search results? Sure for anyone who gets tech it will be equivalent to 'do not index', but maybe a lesson to content owners?

  • the European Commission "is planning reforms that would allow media outlets to request payment from search engines such as Google, for publishing snippets of their content in search results."

    In unrelated news, search engines are planning to encourage media outlets to provide payment to include snippets of their content in search results.

  • "News paper industry not failing fast enough, seeks to increase the pace of it's demise by further reducing it's readership."

    Pretty soon the mega news media entertainment industry will collapse and we can get on with citizen reporting. Anyone can do better than the lipstick-smothered anchors found on weather.com anyways.

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