EU is considering reform plan imposing “Snippet Tax” on major news aggregators such as Google News for displaying Newspapers articles in their News section and search results. A major battle is ongoing in Brussels to reform the plan.
Google is angry at the idea EU is proposing, but powerful News agencies like Newscorp UK and Axel Springer Germany insisting tax is the only hope to save the news industry which has lost revenue streams since the online news came in play.
This is the fresh row of clashes between EU and Google which will last for another year it seems, previously EU hit Google with $2.8 billion in fine over promoting unfair and unethical competition back in June.
Dissemination of free news over the internet has brought news agencies on knees, many consumers online are unwilling to pay for news because they think it’s the part of the free internet.
According to AFP, “Unauthorised use of media content on the internet by aggregators and search engines pose a threat to sustainable access to quality news content” said European Alliance of News Agencies, AFP is the member of this alliance.
“It is important to create neighboring rights for News agencies and publishers revolving around all the activity on the web” the agency said.
The “neighboring rights” features obligation on news aggregators and search engines to pay for showing quotes and snippets from the copyrighted material, the so-called “snippet tax” proposal is one the one component of EU draft proposal which is intended to upgrade EU copyright law in the digital age.
The snippet Tax is actually based on tax imposed in Spain and critics say it largely harmed publishers when Google decided to close down its news aggregator in response.
Almost similar law in Germany witnessed steep fall in online traffic among publishers, Google and Yahoo consider this an ill-founded idea which can harm all the players in the industry.
Google in a blog post last year said, it will hurt almost everyone who reads, writes and shares News—Including many EU start-ups focusing on News segment as a sustainable business model.
Two major camps on the issue are not fighting over, EU parliament and EU Council, diplomats argue that the snippet tax issue has divided member states. Approval for the proposal would require 65% of the bloc’s population and not only the majority of the states.
France, Germany, and Spain are in the favor of snippet tax while UK, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, including their associated territories are against this tax proposal.
Lobbyists are working hard to influence the decision, In EU Parliament three committees have already approved the tax, but the key legal affairs committee still has to decide.
It seems the law is eventually going to be approved because French MEP Marc Joulaud said the committee is expected to approve the law by October 10 with a vote on overall copyright reforms by December-January.
According to Phycs.org EU member states, MEPs and the commission must negotiate a compromise of their separate texts. “This is a very sensitive topic in parliament but also for journalists, some for, some against,” said Andrus Ansip, Commission vice-president in charge of the Digital Single Market. “I didn’t promote this idea, but publishers are very keen for neighboring rights,” he added