Germany's Google Tax is a go

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 30, 2012
Updated • Aug 30, 2012

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.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. clasof56 said on August 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    newspapers, bah, humbug. i took both the st pete times and
    the tampa tribune for years. i finally stopped both of them.
    they called to ask the reason. i said i was tired of the biased
    form of “news” that they were publishing. i want to be able to
    read unbiased news and i can only find that on the internet.
    so “Go Google”…. maybe if newspapers change their attitude
    i may try them again…but it would have to change a lot for
    me to pay for day old news.

  2. Shawn said on August 31, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I was so thinking about this newspaper situation when I was reading about the patent wars with all the major players… Having the power of such a search engine… I’d shut off any competitor that would try to attack my business.

    But seriously if theses company would just add in their robot.txt

    User-agent: googlebot
    Disallow: /whatever

    Problem solved

    There are many Google projects that we’re shut down because of stupid decisions and people crying all the time. I for one would love someone to make the virus/code from the movie “The Core” at the end to never stop the flow of information.. I feel some days we’re returning to the stone age.


    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Well they want Google to send them free traffic, but at the same time that Google pays them for displaying their content on its own site (which is sending the free traffic). Maybe Google should compensate them in free traffic. Oh, it already does.

  3. Roman ShaRP said on August 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    One more idiotic bill in the world. Well, let’s Google does for them the same it did for Belgian greedy fools.

    “Or did you mean we should pay them to leave us alone? If so, there is an old saying that once you pay Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane. ”
    Robert A. Heinlein

  4. Yosif said on August 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Every lawsuit against Google ends in favour of Google. The guys in their legal department are doing great jobs :)

  5. Ron said on August 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Sheesh, it’s not like Google is republishing entire news article on its search site, just enough of a teaser so that searchers can determine if the article is what they are looking for. News sites should be paying Google, and not the other way around, for bringing more traffic to their sites.

  6. Morely Dotes said on August 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    This is the kind of thinking we get from career politicians: “Google isn’t paying licensing fees to German Web publications for making them easily found by everyone on the Internet, so let’s encourage Google to make sure German publications are no longer available through Google search.” Yeah, that worked real well in Belgium, didn’t it?


    And @DanTe: “News” now is nothing more than rumours. It’s up to the publishers to figure out how to get money from their publications, it’s not Google’s job and it’s not the readers’ job. If you think new media is responsible for keeping old media in business, I suggest you apply to your Government for a law to prevent cars from being sold without buggy whips. So how far that gets you.

  7. DanTe said on August 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    People have to find a way to compensation news services sooner or later. Just look back at some of the old newspaper reporting and compare it to today’s high speed, I want some words now, reporting. Big difference. If this keeps up, news will become nothing more than rumors.

    1. Whino said on August 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      Compensating news services is fine, but the net is effectively opt-in thanks to the robots.txt file that all webservers agreeed to use.

      Just like in Belgium, all those sites (who feel they’re being cheated of something) need to do is block access from the Google News bot or any others and voila, they are not being referenced anymore.

      But they don’t and there are only two possible reasons:stupidity, or greed.

    2. Coyote said on August 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      With the proliferation of twitter and live feeds from every angle of the globe perhaps we don’t need a corporate structured, watered down, journalisticly biased news source.

      I for one don’t read news papers or watch the news much anymore, they always have the same stories same perceptions and no real followup. Thanks to sites like twitter, reddit, and perhaps some less reputable social sites the events happen in real time “reported” by people truly effected. True you lose the “integrity” you get from certified news outlets but that has been in question for some time now.

      1. anony said on August 31, 2012 at 11:07 am

        Most of the real news still comes from professionals journalists (i.e. you need to pay people to get into the scenes and write half decent article), unless you think that someone breaking his toe nails or semething is considered “news”.

  8. KoalaBear said on August 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    The best thing Google can do is like they did in Belgium. A week after that, they will regret it.

  9. Flo said on August 30, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Basically a GEZ for news aggregators. I wonder if G.News stops linking to such websites, how much traffic they actually lose.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.