For several months Google has been actively fighting a proposed German law, the Leistungschutzrecht, that would ultimately restrict search engines from providing snippets of news articles in their search results. Before the proposal made its first rounds in the German parliament, Google took their concerns to the German public with the launch of a “Defend Your Internet” campaign, hoping that enough people would speak out over the law that would cut off valuable access to news information. On Friday, the bill is expected to receive a final vote in parliament, but with a modification that should make Google a little less troubled.
The proposed law has been watered-down to allow the use of short snippets of the text without having to pay the original copyright holder a fee. Anything more than that would require a license under the new law. Why this change was made so late is puzzling since the news aggregation service that Google and other search engines provide only helps drive traffic to news sites.
According to Manuel Höferlin, a FDP member on the Legal Committee behind the bill, the last-minute change was made under the realization that brief snippets of the source material are necessary for providing users a sense of what will be found at the link they are looking to follow. It is unknown whether Google’s “Defend Your Internet” campaign had any impact on this change, but Google has to be breathing a sigh of relief after hearing the news.
Sources: Spiegel Online