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photo: fortune.com

EU Lawmakers is trying (again) to make Google Pay for Google News

The European Commission (EU) is proposing a law that would let news publishers across the EU charge companies like Google for reproducing parts of their articles.

Fortune News reported on 31 August, that a similar idea failed when it was tried in Germany and Spain, but now the German digital commissioner, Günther Oettinger, is going to include it in his new copyright instruction.

A leaked draft of the instruction shows clearly, the Commission wants to fortify the rights of news publishers, to support the industry in this technological change period.

In the draft it was written, “In the transition from print to digital, publishers of news publications are facing problems in licensing the online use of their new publications and recouping their investments.”

“It is necessary to provide a harmonised legal protection for news publications in respect of online uses within the European Union. Such protection can be effectively guaranteed through the introduction, in Union law, of rights related to copyright for the reproduction and making available to the public of news publications in respect of online uses.”

The draft described that the proposal was an attempt between Germany and Spain.

The German ‘ancillary copyright’ law applied only to ‘publishing’ parts of articles – mostly the clippings that show up on Google News, but the EU proposal would also apply to ‘reproduction’ of parts of articles.

More than that, the EU proposal draft would also prohibit individuals from linking to articles in posting some sentences from the article text, while the German copyright law supplement only applied to search engines and news collectors.

And, as the German law only applies for one year after publication, the EU law proposed the period for 20 years.

On the other hand, in agreement with another leak received last week – the recommendations of an impact assessment – the EU proposal excludes the fatal flaw of the Spanish ancillary copyright law – it doesn’t ban publishers from releasing their rights.

Reacting to the attempt, Google stopped showing everything but the headlines of publishers’ articles in Germany, but when the publishers’ traffic jumped down, they (the publishers) relented and issued a temporary free license to Google to use snippets of their article text.

In Spain, where publishers can not grant Google a free license as in Germany, the U.S. Corporation just shut down Google News in the country. This reaction proved disastrous for the Spanish news industry, especially for smaller players depended on Google News to get readers.

Last week’s impact-assessment leak revealed that the new copyright proposal would also press the online services like YouTube to implement “necessary technologies” to fight the unauthorised uploading of copyrighted content.

Also, in matching up with the E-Commerce Directive of 2000, it is not clear how this will let such companies off the hook when it comes to the things that users do on their platforms – which in fact bans anyone from forcing the companies to monitor their users’ activities.

The proposal is expected to come out officially at the end of September, and it will be a start of an intensive battle.

It may come out different after going through the European Parliament and the EU member states, by the time everyone’s agreed on a compromise.

The European Parliament has rejected the idea of ancillary copyright twice last year, both in Reda’s report and in a parliamentary report on the digital single market.

The Reda's report is a report on EU copyright law authored by a European Parliament member, Julia Reda.

In that latter report, Parliament said: “Be cautious against creating market distortions or barriers to market entry for online services by introducing new obligations to cross-subsidize particular legacy business models.”

Liberal parliamentarian Marietje Schaake in a statement on Wednesday, “The European Parliament has consistently warned against adding such a broad and ill-defined right.”

“While I am concerned about journalism, more copyright enforcement will not help publishers, and instead, hurts Internet users. If implemented, the draft would effectively end the Internet as we know it,” Schaake said.