Google is fighting a battle with European regulators on a number of fronts, one of which is a long-running case that alleges anti-competitive behaviour in the company’s search results. But it is also fighting with European publishers, who allege the search giant is stealing revenue from them by posting excerpts of their content in its Google News results. According to a recent report in the New York Times, EU publishers are lobbying hard for copyright changes that would impose a “Google tax” on such behaviour.
This no doubt seems like a great idea: Since Google has billions of dollars, most of which is made up of advertising revenue that no longer goes to newspapers, why not get it to pay for the privilege of linking to content from European publications? The only problem, however, is that this strategy could turn into a classic Pyrrhic victory, in which publishers win the battle but lose the war.
The Times reports that a number of trade associations, including the Federation of European Publishers, have been meeting with antitrust officials and other regulators to push for “stricter, Europe-wide limits on how Google and others may use publishers’ online content.” They are apparently hoping to make these new rules part of the upcoming overhaul of EU copyright laws, expected later this year. “If the rules are approved,” the paper says, “Google may eventually have to pay newspaper and magazine groups whenever links to their content are shown on Google’s European aggregation sites.”
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