Press "Enter" to skip to content

EU states may make search engines pay to show news snippets

The world’s leading search engines like Google may be required to pay for displaying snippets of news articles on their search results due to new draft copyright rules that have been endorsed by EU ambassadors.

The new measure, which is not yet final, would enable press publications to ask search engines to pay them a fee for displaying their articles for up to a year following their publication. The original proposal from the EU would have given publishers the right to ask for up to 20 years payment.

The reform package would also make it so that content hosting websites like YouTube would need to seek a special license from rightsholders to display their content. This would include things like music video and movie clips where they would otherwise be inaccessible due to copyright law.

News publications have always had a rocky relationship with Google, blaming the search engine for causing readership and revenue declines. Google has attempted to remedy this by developing the Digital News Initiative which funds the digital projects of new publishers.

The tech industry believes that measures like taxing snippets would not lead to greater profits for new publications as all of the clicks are still being funnelled through a search engines. However, news publishers have still welcomed the news from the EU agreement and called it a major step forward.

European news groups including News Media Europe (NME) and the European Publishers Council have said that they “remain confident” that the decision makers will continue their support of an “exclusive right” to invest in “free and democratic” press in Europe.

However, those in the technology sector believe this agreement would hurt the digital sector and internet users.

EDiMA, which represents Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook said that the new laws would only extend to the “smallest extracts of text” and that they were done in spite of “overwhelming stakeholder opposition” as well as “irrefutable evidence” that this type of measure does not increase publisher remuneration and does not contribute to journalistic quality.

Germany and Spain have introduced similar kinds of laws in the past which led Google News to be removed from Spain entirely and Axel Springer, Germany’s biggest new publisher, to give up on a bid to stop Google from running snippets of its articles after blaming Google for a big drop in traffic.

The reform proposals would also have an effect on the music industry which has also blamed Google for using YouTube to make money from their intellectual property. YouTube has stated that it paid more than $1 billion to the music industry in 2016 from ad revenue and also allowed artists to make money on copyright claims on their work uploaded by fans.

Following this latest agreement, EU member states will need to negotiate a final deal for copyright reform with the EU Parliament.