Remember how some Belgian newspapers sued Google in court for including news articles, images and links to the newspaper sites in Google News? The newspapers wanted money from Google, and while the court sided with the newspapers, the whole thing backfired with a big bang. Instead of paying the newspapers, Google decided to block them from Google News and other properties instead. And the crying began, once the newspapers realized that their traffic dropped like a stone in water.
Germany's Google Tax, or Leistungsschutzrecht (ancillary copyright), is similar to that attempt in many regards. All commercial portals and websites that process news automatically are required to pay licensing fees to the creators or right holders. This is a modification of the first draft which included citations and links on all commercial properties on the Internet. Every bloggers with an Adsense unit, a PayPal donate button or any other form of monetization would have to pay licensing fees to quote and link to contents.
The biggest fish in the pond is Google with its Google News service and search engine, and that is the main reason why the Leistungsschutzrecht is known as the Google Tax in Germany.
Google's reaction will be interesting. The company could repeat what they did back in Belgium a few years ago. While that is the most likely scenario, it needs to be mentioned that Germany is a bigger market than Belgium is and that blocking newspapers from Google News and Google Search could have ill-effects on Google as well. Google on the other hand has a search monopoly in Germany making it unlikely that the company will lose a lot of users if it would indeed block newspapers and other magazines from its services.
It is unlikely that the company will pay for the right to include news and links in its services, as it would not only impact Germany, but likely other regions and countries in the world where companies might want the same treatment.
German users on the other hand who already have to cope with "this video is not available in your country" on YouTube, may soon receive similar "this article is not available in your country" messages. Ah, brave new world.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.