mfioretti: google* + copyright*

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  1. Google doesn’t generally make money from Google News itself, because it doesn’t place advertisements in the service (though it does of course place ads in its main search service, where results are sometimes augmented with Google News results). In contrast, ancillary copyright destroys the entire business model of small aggregation startups. CEDRO, Spain’s equivalent to VG Media in this arena, recently decided that aggregators should pay €0.05 per user per day in ancillary copyright fees – for the popular local aggregation startup Menéame, this works out as 20 times the company’s turnover. Obviously, this is completely untenable for a small business.

    So, given the German and Spanish experiences, what is the push for ancillary copyright actually trying to achieve? On the face of it, the aim is to get Google to pay publishers for sending readers to their articles. This is in itself a very strange idea, as publishers get to make money from showing ads to those readers, but let’s take it at face value for a moment. Even if Google were to continue to use those snippets, and if it started to pay those fees, the law would kill its small, European competitors in the news aggregation space – no-one would invest in them, because their businesses would haemorrhage money. Wealthy Google, if it stayed in the space, would end up dominating the EU news aggregation market even more than it does now.

    But this isn’t going to happen. Google is not going to start paying anyone to link to their online content, because that would be the beginning of the end for Google’s core business model – a win-win situation where the company benefits from being the gatekeeper for the public’s attention, and linked-to sites benefit from the traffic Google freely sends them.

    Günther Oettinger has claimed that the might of a pan-EU law would force Google to open its coffers, but he’s wrong. Nobody can force a company to engage in a line of business that will lose it money. If pushed, Google would undoubtedly do across the EU what it did in Spain: shut down Google News. This may benefit the traditional press publishers that hate online competition – and perhaps this is why they, with their vast offline marketing budgets, have lobbied so hard for an EU ancillary copyright law. But it would cause infinite harm to smaller European publishers and the innovative European startups that are trying to develop cleverer ways of connecting publishers with their readers.

    There are many flaws in Article 11 as proposed – its vague wording could penalise social media users; there’s no guarantee that journalists themselves would benefit from the fees; and it could lead to the last two decades of journalism becoming less accessible to the public. But even if the wording were tweaked, the basic concept remains fundamentally flawed. Nobody would benefit, apart from the handful of large press publishers that are trying to turn back the clock to protect their bottom lines.

    There’s no doubt that the news industry is in crisis, nor that digitalisation is largely to blame. It’s a deeply complex problem, and solutions are urgently needed. But ancillary copyright is not one of those solutions. If anything, it would hold back the innovation that’s so desperately needed to rescue the industry – innovation that might come not from Google, but from the bright minds in the EU.
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  2. On a related note, this is a made-in-america problem. The EU has ruled in the last 10 years that not only does Microsoft need to document their API's for use by competitors for interoperability, but provide them for use. It is very disappointing that this sensible direction was not adopted in the USA, but goes to show you that most lawyers in the technology field have little knowledge regarding coding or how technology works.

    COMMENT: On a related note, this is a made-in-america problem. The EU has ruled in the last 10 years that not only does Microsoft need to document their API's for use by competitors for interoperability, but provide them for use. It is very disappointing that this sensible direction was not adopted in the USA, but goes to show you that most lawyers in the technology field have little knowledge regarding coding or how technology works.
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  3. A few years ago, the database company Oracle sued Google, arguing that Google's Android operating system infringed the copyright of Oracle's Java technology. On Friday, a federal appeals court sided with Oracle in the long-running dispute.

    The decision seems to reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of how software works. And it could create serious headaches for companies that want to make their software compatible with that of competitors.
    Voting 0
  4. it is demanded that search algorithms and results should be impartial to keep internet searches “nondiscrimatory” and to “secure competition and freedom of choice for users and consumers”. Consequently, indexing, weighting, display and ordering of search engines should be impartial and transparent.

    This wording is explosive. I am led to suspect that its aim is to prepare a European ancillary copyright for press publishers. The attempt to cross-finance big publishers through Google most recently spectacularly backfired in Germany. Is this resolution an attempt to create the puzzle piece that had been missing in Germany?

    In October, Günther Oettinger, the EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, provoked a debate on an EU-wide ancillary copyright law for press publishers before even taking office. Not a month later, the next move is made in that direction – this time in the parliament.

    Let’s look back at what happened in Germany: After a long lobbying campaign, an ancillary copyright for press publishers (“Leistungschutzrecht für Presseverleger”) was introduced in 2013. The goal: Publishers should be able to charge search engines and aggregators a licencing fee for serving up links to their articles if such links were accompanied by short snippets of the publishers’ content. The response of the search engine providers in Germany differed: GMX and Yahoo completely removed the websites of the publishers represented by collecting society VG Media from their results. The market leader Google, which had been the primary target of the law, announced that it would continue to display results from these sites, but without any text and image snippets, so as to not violate the new law.

    This step had publishers fuming: How dare Google NOT violate their rights und thus not be subject to licencing? Shortly after, VG Media gave in and granted Google a «revocable licence free of charge» – only Google, mind you. In effect, a law that had been put in place to force Google to pay now instead applies to everyone but Google – and thereby only serves to further secure Google’s dominant market position. I submitted an inquiry to the European Commission on the antitrust implications of what in the end amounts to preferential treatment of Google, but I have yet to receive a response.

    It is obviously in the interest of publishers to disallow Google and other search engines to “circumvent” the ancillary copyright law by delisting the content of anyone demanding licensing fees. They filed lawsuits and threatened an antitrust complaint, but the German antitrust office was unimpressed, responding that Google couldn’t be forced to pay for content it doesn’t want to use. The publisher’s best chance would be an actual law that forces Google to index their content.

    That’s precisely what may be the true intention behind the resolution’s wording on “neutrality” of search results. It is a highly absurd idea that search engines could be legally required to index sites which they are not even allowed to include in their results without having previously successfully negotiated a licence. Failure to accept a publisher’s demands in the negotation would leave just one remaining legal step: Completely suspending the search engine’s service.

    If we want the Commission to take a stand against powerful IT giants, let’s concentrate on measures that work: We need to take action following the LuxLeaks revelations and put an end to tax dumping in Europe. Transnational IT companies need to start paying regular taxes like everybody else. Those who truly care about equal opportunities and an innovation driven market will have to agree that tax evasion is the most urgent problem to address.
    What we don’t need are newly made-up taxes for single companies with dangerous side-effects that threaten the free exchange of information on the net.
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  5. Abbiamo fatto tutto il possibile», spiega Osvaldo Avallone, direttore della Biblioteca nazionale centrale di Roma, che fra 15 giorni andrà in pensione: «Più che i soldi non ci sono bastati i giorni. Fra tre settimane dovremo lasciare a casa i collaboratori. E smettere di spedire e ricevere i volumi da Google. Ben prima di aver raggiunto l'obiettivo».

    Nel duello realtà-proclama, insomma, ha vinto ancora una volta la burocrazia. Pure per un progetto piuttosto low-cost come questo, che sarebbe servito a salvare un intero patrimonio letterario, con un'importanza evidente se solo si pensa alla fine scandalosa della collezione dei Girolamini .
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  6. Millions of copyrighted books by authors from every major country were swept in to Google’s scheme. As the new filings demonstrate, not just authors but also photographers, visual artists, songwriters, and publishers around the world find it particularly galling that a wealthy American company would try to find a way to use their creations for free.”

    Authors from Australia, Canada, and South Africa joined one brief, including Margaret Atwood, Thomas Keneally, J.M. Coetzee, Yann Martell, Peter Carey and Michael Frayn. In a separate filing, an array of international rights organizations warned that if this massive expansion of “fair use” is allowed to stand it turns the United States into a rogue nation, in violation of international norms of copyright
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  7. Google vince un'importante battaglia nella guerra da lungo tempo in corso attorno al suo progetto di digitalizzazione delle opere non più reperibili in commercio. Una corte d'appello di New York ha rovesciato infatti la precedente decisione in primo grado, rifiutando lo status di "class action" alla controversa crociata condotta da Author Guild - che riunisce migliaia di scrittori - contro il progetto Google Books. Nel diritto statunitense una class action è una causa "di categoria": uno o più soggetti promuovono un'azione legale a tutela di interessi che li accomunano e rappresentano così, attraverso questa modalità, anche altri soggetti, non immediatamente presenti, che possono vantare interessi analoghi e che potranno associarsi anche in seguito. Il riconoscimento della possibilità di procedere come "class" è un passaggio importante e per nulla scontato: spesso dipende proprio da esso l'effettiva possibilità, per gruppi di soggetti o associazioni di categoria che si ritengono danneggiati, di agire legalmente contro le grandi corporation, e su questo si concentra lo scontro legale. Nel caso della disputa fra l'Authors Guild e Google con il suo progetto Books, si tratta di una questione giudiziaria che si trascina da oltre dieci anni numerosi cambi di scena.
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  8. The pirates would be a limited menace were it not for search engines that point users to these rogue sites with no fear of legal consequence, thanks to a provision inserted into the 1998 copyright laws. A search for “Scott Turow free e-books” brought up 10 pirate sites out of the first 10 results on Yahoo, 8 of 8 on Bing and 6 of 10 on Google, with paid ads decorating the margins of all three pages.

    If I stood on a corner telling people who asked where they could buy stolen goods and collected a small fee for it, I’d be on my way to jail. And yet even while search engines sail under mottos like “Don’t be evil,” they do the same thing.
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  9. Opodo aveva il diritto di pescare a piene mani fra i dati di Ryanair e indicizzarli fra i suoi risultati. Il caso di Giarrizzo, spiega Scorza, si basa sullo stesso principio. Se, ovviamente, venisse fuori che è stato davvero Youtube a contestare l'esistenza (e il successo) dell'app
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  10. La cultura del rispetto delle regole è la vera innovazione per questo Paese, non possiamo giustificare o girare lo sguardo sol perché un’App ha raggiunto un milione di download e 100 mila dollari di premio; se così fosse giustificheremmo le olgettine e coloro che raggiungono il potere con mezzi poco etici o illegali.
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