According to news blog poster Jeff Jarvis, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are the targets of legal proceedings just begun by several German magazine and newspaper publishers. Specifically, the instigating companies include: Axel Springer, Burda, WAZ and the Müncher Merkur. They hope to institute an order that would force the companies to pay them 11 percent of their “gross sales, including foreign sales” that are derived “directly and indirectly from making excerpts from online newspapers and magazines public.”
Jarvis posted that the Germans’ demands are “as absurd as they are cynical and dangerous” and are a part of the country’s “war on the link.” Other online sources believe this is actually an attempt to win in court what they were unable to secure through the German legislative process in 2013.
Germany has historically not been completely receptive to Google’s products. Recently the country would not permit Google’s Street View to kick off unless they first established an effective opt-out program. This resulted in the pixilation of over 240,000 addresses in Germany.
The German publishers are taking legal action at a time when Google is not doing well with European regulators and judges. In fact, this past May the European Court of Justice ruled that residents of the EU (European Union) have the legal “right to be forgotten.” Furthermore it was determined that EU citizens may request that any and all links related to them be removed from the online search engines.
Some German publishers, however, such as Spiegel Online, Handelsblatt, Sueddeutsche.de, Stern.de and Focus are not currently on board with this litigation. They have chosen to wait and see what happens. In general EU publishers have had a more argumentative association with Google than their US counterparts since at least 2007 when Copiepresse, a Belgian press organization began litigation over Google excerpts and links. Oddly, after winning that law suit and forcing Google to de-index their material, they changed their minds in 2011 and decided they wished to be included in Google’s search results.
Germans Want 11 Percent Of Google News