Google’s head of news has called on policy makers to fix what he calls “unintended consequences” of the EU’s proposed revisions to its copyright law.
In a blog post yesterday, December 6, Richard Gingras said Google supported a planned update to copyright laws which would give news publishers rights over how their work is used, but warned the EU not to “stifle innovation in news or limit access to quality journalism”.
The EU’s article 11 seeks to protect journalists and their work by requiring online services to strike commercial deals with publishers to show hyperlinks and snippets of news.
Gingras called on policy makers to “urgently” fix this in the final text of the directive, which is set to force online platforms and websites to pay copyright holders, such as journalists, to use their content.
He argued that by having to put these commercial licences in place, search engines such as Google would have to make decisions about which content to include and which to leave out. Essentially “companies like Google will be put in the position of picking winners and losers”, he said.
Gingras’s blog post said that, presently, more than 80,000 news publishers around the world can show up in Google News, but article 11 would sharply reduce that number.
He said this would “mostly benefit larger players” and that smaller newsrooms and “overall online news diversity will be impacted as a result”.
He cited analysis from German IT news website Golem.de which forecast that smaller publishers in Germany would receive less than 1% of the revenue generated by “ancillary copyright”, whereas the largest publishing group analysed (Axel Springer) would receive 64% alone.
Gingras said the new rules will “undoubtedly hurt diversity of voices” and will mean that large publishers set business models for the whole industry. He said this was particularly damaging at a time when “news business models continue to evolve”, as “new, small, and innovative publishers need flexibility”.
He proposed that the law be revised so that publishers are given the right to control their own business models by giving them the choice to waive the need for a commercial licence for their content.
Google, Richard Gingras, news, EU copyright law, journalists, publishers, Article 11