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Some critics are referring to a proposed policy as a "link tax"

Old 09-17-18, 08:01 PM
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Some critics are referring to a proposed policy as a "link tax"

This first article is from a few years ago, but it's relevant to the new article that I'm posting right after it:

Google News Spain to close in response to story links 'tax'

New Spanish law requires Google to pay for using publishers’ content but search provider says it makes no money from News service

December 11, 2014

Google is closing Google News in Spain and removing Spanish media outlets from the service following a row with the country’s government over new legislation aimed at protecting local publishers that requires the search company to pay for using their content.

The tech giant announced late on Wednesday that Google News would close in Spain on 16 December. A spokeswoman said she was “incredibly sad” to announce the company was shutting the service.

The Spanish government passed a new copyright law in October that imposes fees for online content aggregators such as Google News in an effort to protect the country’s print media industry. The law comes into effect in January.

Known popularly as the “Google Tax”, the law requires services that post links and excerpts of news articles to pay a fee to the Association of Editors of Spanish Dailies. It will also affect other news aggregators including Yahoo News. Authorities will have the power to fine websites up to €600,000 ($748,000) for linking to pirated content.

“This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable,” Richard Gingras, head of Google News, wrote in a blogpost.

He said Google was driving more than 10bn clicks to publisher websites every month and its Adsense product, which delivers ads to websites, paid out over $9bn to publishers last year, up from $7bn the year before. Google news is currently available in 70 international editions, covering 35 languages.

The Spanish law is one of a series of spats Google is now facing in Europe. European publishers including Axel Springer have accused the company of abusing its dominance in search and are pressing for action from the European parliament.

Last month the parliament approved a motion calling for tougher regulation of internet search and suggested a break-up of Google to end its dominance in Europe.

Germany passed a similar law to Spain’s and Google removed newspapers from Google News in response but in October publishers reached an agreement with the company after traffic to their websites plummeted.

“For centuries publishers were limited in how widely they could distribute the printed page,” wrote Gingras. “The internet changed all that - creating tremendous opportunities but also real challenges for publishers as competition both for readers’ attention and for advertising euros increased.

“We’re committed to helping the news industry meet that challenge and look forward to continuing to work with our thousands of partners globally, as well as in Spain, to help them increase their online readership and revenues.”

And here's the new article. If the critics are right, this could present a huge obstacle to the way the internet currently operates:

EU approves controversial Copyright Directive, including internet ‘link tax’ and ‘upload filter’

Those in favor say they’re fighting for content creators, but critics say the new laws will be ‘catastrophic’

September 12, 2018

The European Parliament has voted in favor of the Copyright Directive, a controversial piece of legislation intended to update online copyright laws for the internet age.

The directive was originally rejected by MEPs in July following criticism of two key provisions: Articles 11 and 13, dubbed the “link tax” and “upload filter” by critics. However, in parliament this morning, an updated version of the directive was approved, along with amended versions of Articles 11 and 13. The final vote was 438 in favor and 226 against.

The fallout from this decision will be far-reaching, and take a long time to settle. The directive itself still faces a final vote in January 2019 (although experts say it’s unlikely it will be rejected). After that it will need to be implemented by individual EU member states, who could very well vary significantly in how they choose to interpret the directive’s text.

The most important parts of this are Articles 11 and 13. Article 11 is intended to give publishers and papers a way to make money when companies like Google link to their stories, allowing them to demand paid licenses. Article 13 requires certain platforms like YouTube and Facebook stop users sharing unlicensed copyrighted material.

Critics of the Copyright Directive say these provisions are disastrous. In the case of Article 11, they note that attempts to “tax” platforms like Google News for sharing articles have repeatedly failed, and that the system would be ripe to abuse by copyright trolls.

Article 13, they say, is even worse. The legislation requires that platforms proactively work with rightsholders to stop users uploading copyrighted content. The only way to do so would be to scan all data being uploaded to sites like YouTube and Facebook. This would create an incredible burden for small platforms, and could be used as a mechanism for widespread censorship. This is why figures like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee came out so strongly against the directive.

However, those backing these provisions say the arguments above are the result of scaremongering by big US tech companies, eager to keep control of the web’s biggest platforms. They point to existing laws and amendments to the directive as proof it won’t be abused in this way. These include exemptions for sites like GitHub and Wikipedia from Article 13, and exceptions to the “link tax” that allow for the sharing of mere hyperlinks and “individual words” describing articles without constraint.

In remarks following the vote in Parliament this morning, MEP Axel Voss, who has led the charge on Articles 11 and 13, thanked his fellow politicians “for the job we have done together.” “This is a good sign for the creative industries in Europe,” said Voss. Opposing MEPs like Julia Reda of the Pirate Party described the outcome as “catastrophic.”

Despite these disagreements, what’s clear is that if the Copyright Directive receives final approval by the European Parliament in January, it will have a huge, disruptive impact on the internet, both in the European Union and around the world. Exactly how the legislation will be interpreted will be up to individual nations, but the shift in the balance of power is clear: the web’s biggest tech companies are losing their grip on the internet.

Given what already happened in Spain and Germany when this policy was adopted, I think it's legitimate for the rest of the world to worry about the EU adopting it.

Maybe this is just scaremongering. Maybe it's not.

I guess the only way to know for certain is to wait and see what happens.

Last edited by grundle; 09-17-18 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 09-17-18, 08:10 PM
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Re: Some critics are referring to a proposed policy as a "link tax"

shift in the balance of power is clear: the web’s biggest tech companies are losing their grip on the internet.
That is to say, giant tech companies are losing a battle to the giant content companies. Google and Facebook lose, Disney and Bertelsmann win.
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