Yes, you read the headline correctly. There has been an ongoing battle between major German news publications and popular search engines that provide links to their content, and after Google was forced to reduce their search results to include a much smaller sample of the content early last year, some publications want to take the changes even further.
Roughly half of all major German news publishers have moved forward with a legal request to receive an 11 percent cut of “gross sales, including foreign sales” that come “directly and indirectly from making excerpts from online newspapers and magazines public” on the search engines of Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.
The demand to receive compensation from a source that is bringing in viewership and revenue has many scratching their heads. Jeff Jarvis from BuzzMachine.com provided his own commentary on the issue, stating that these demands “are as absurd as they are cynical and dangerous. First, of course, Google is sending the publishers plenty of value as well. That is, Google is sending the publishers us: readers, customers, the public these news organizations allegedly want to serve.”
Jarvis went on to suggest that if “the publishers really want a fair exchange of value, then they should also be paying Google for the links — the readers — it sends their way.”
It’s not just the top three search engines that are targeted by the suit either. Smaller search engines that do not offer any services outside of search would only be charged a third of the 11 percent cut for sending readers to the news publications website.
Both Google and Microsoft’s Bing search do not place any ads on their news search result pages, so it is a little unclear how these news publications find justification for financial compensation. Yahoo’s news search pages however do place ads throughout the results.
While many major news publishers are pushing for this compensation, there are still some major companies that have opted to not join in. Spiegel Online, Handelsblatt.com, FAZ.net, Stern.de, Sueddeutsche.de and the new German edition of Huffington Post have all decided to not take part in the suit. Some of the major instigators though are Axel Springer, Burda, WAZ, and the Müncher Merkur.