So, despite a campaign to prevent it, the Germans have changed their copyright law a little bit, raising the possibility that search engines might have to pay a fee for news content they access.
In other words, before Google will crawl German news sites, they will obtain permission from the publisher.
A licence, you might call it. The thing copyright law always said you needed before copying and exploiting someone else’s content.
I have seen no mention of any basis for sitting down and, you know, actually negotiating the terms of the licence with Google, talking about what you want from them in return. I presume their opt-in is a “take or leave it” sort of thing. They don’t seem to be offering money, which we can all clearly see they couldn’t possibly afford with only $10bn profit last year on a pitiful $50bn turnover.
All the German news publishers can have, it seems, is their random share of the supposed 6 billion (mostly completely worthless) visits which Google News sends to publishers. I hope they find this offer resistible bearing in mind the minimal impact that being out of Google News is likely to have on their bottom line.
Still. Google seeking licences, eh? Asking permission? Admittedly, they only seem to be doing so to avoid being forced to share a tiny slice of their enormous wealth with those who provide their raw materials. A little tight-fisted perhaps.
But it shows that their might be new life in the old copyright dog yet. And new value, if a permission based internet starts to creep slowly closer.