German copyright law protecting news sites from search engines delayed by constitutional concerns

It is unclear if the law will pass Parliament before the new elections, an official said

New concerns about whether a controversial German online copyright bill is constitutional are likely to delay voting on the measure that would have allowed publishers to charge search engines such as Google for reproducing short snippets from news articles.

The doubts were raised on Friday by Siegfried Kauder, member of Parliament (MP) for the German CDU party and head of the legal affairs committee that is preparing the law before it is submitted to a vote by the German Parliament.

Following a January committee meeting with lawyers, professors and representatives of the publishing industry, but without industry players like Google, Facebook or other tech companies, important questions remain, Kauder said in a news release.

The proposed legislation could be in conflict with rights to freedom of information, a German fundamental right, said Kauder, who is a lawyer. The law could also be in conflict with the right to freedom of profession, he said.

Furthermore, it is unclear to him why the new law should only apply to publishers and not to similar information providers. He also said that the proposed law should have been presented in Brussels so that other E.U. countries could comment on it.

Kauder requested a new expert hearing in the legal committee to answer the constitutional questions.

Kauder also believes there are technical mechanisms to prevent search engines from accessing and republishing news snippets, and is seeking more information about why publishers need a law to protect their copyright in these cases.

To discuss this issue, a meeting of the subcommittee on new media will take place on Monday. In this meeting, Google as well as a representative from the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and two other experts will be heard.

The law appeared likely to pass a vote in the Parliament next week, but was taken off the agenda, said Ingmar Scholtz, research assistant and head of Kauder's office. Kauder's doubts led to a disagreement about the law within the coalition, and it is now uncertain if and when the bill will again be put on the parliamentary agenda, he added.

"They might not even be able to succeed this election period," he said. The vote would have to be held before June, according to Scholtz. Parliamentary elections will be held in September.

Publishers on Friday denied that they were talking to Google about a deal similar to one French publishers made earlier this month. Rumors of talks emerged after Philipp Rösler, Germany's federal minister of economics and technology, told the press on Thursday that representatives of publishing companies were touring Silicon Valley, suggesting they were there to talk about legal issues, Netzpolitik.org reported.

While German newspaper editors are indeed in the U.S., speculation about negotiations is based on a misunderstanding, according to a Twitter post by Christoph Keese, public affairs manager for publishing company Axel Springer, who represented the publishers during the first legal affairs committee.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Googleintellectual propertyregulationcopyrightlegallegislationgovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?