Google Extends Ultimatum to German Publishers: Snippets to be cut in 2 Weeks

German publishers lobbied for some kind of “lex Google”. It will prohibit small extractions from press articles to be used as snippets in search result or news aggregators.

Basically, search engines or news aggregators are required to pay royalty fees if they use those 140-something characters of a press text for preview purposes.

The publishers who forced that law are now organized in a copyright collective called “VG Media”.

Since Google search as a market share in Germany of roughly 90% simply de-indexing the respective publishers from the search and/or news index would put Google in a situation where they would likely to infringe anti-trust laws. So, they came up with a clever solution: Instead of de-indexing the publishers in question Google will simply not show the text snippets. The headline as well as the link is not covered by the new law.

Google announced this step on October, 1.

Today the announced that they will extend their ultimatum to VG Media: 14 more days:

Am 1. Oktober haben wir in unserem Google Produkt-Blog über Neuigkeiten in Sachen News bei Google informiert. Inzwischen haben uns die in der VG Media organisierten Verlage gebeten, die angekündigte Umstellung etwas zu verschieben. Wir haben diesem Wunsch entsprochen und werden deshalb erst ab 23. Oktober 2014 Snippets und Thumbnails der betreffenden Verlage nicht mehr anzeigen.

which translates roughly to:

On October 1, we have informed in our Google product blog about what's new on Google News. Meanwhile the publishers organized in VG Media have asked us to delay the announced changes. We have complied with this request and will no longer display snippets and thumbnails of the respective publishers after October, 23 2014.

What’s going on in Europe, right now?

The Belgian publishers partnered with Google after finding out that having their sites on Google’s index does not infringe their rights but increase their traffic.

Then, in Spain, everything, down to a hyperlink may become illegal.

And now the Germans.

We’ll see, where it leads us.