Students for Liberty: Internet Freedom in Jeopardy in Germany because of Copyright

by Stephan Kinsella on December 13, 2012

Nice post on the Students for Liberty blog about the danger copyright censorship poses to internet freedom. For more, see:

While Students For Liberty grows to a really international student movement, we also experience a lot of tough regulations, which hinder our internationalization. For a couple of years for instance Turkey totally blocked YouTube and our partners from the 3H Movement fought heroic battles against Internet censorship in Turkey. Surprisingly one of the toughest countries in terms of Internet regulation is my home country Germany. One example are for instance the great clips Gabrielle Shiner (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIJxFAecA-M&feature=related) made in order to advertise the first European Students For Liberty Conference in 2011. Some of those clips aren’t available on the German YouTube page due to the fact that we don’t own the copyrights for the background music.
Blocked ESFLC-YouTube Clips in Germany

A new area of even tougher Internet regulation is about to arrive in Germany: Just recently two major newspapers had to close due to financial problems and the lack of innovation in order to use the Internet as a new source for revenues (Financial Times Germany and Frankfurter Rundschau). Most German print-media outlets have so far failed to understand how to utilize the Internet as the new nexus for information and revenue generation. Due to the lack of innovation and good services they have to try to win market shares in the Internet by hiring lobbyists and applying good old cronyism.

A drafted law in the German Parliament aims to dramatically extend the reach of copyright law by placing restrictions on showing a ‘snippet’ of an article, which is usually common for search engine results. If the drafted law (which most probably has the support of the house’s majority) would pass, the simple act of linking or displaying snippets would become fraught with legal risk. This would significantly reduce the functionality of search engine for German users and would make it harder to find news online.

An interesting fact is that almost 50 percent of online traffic of many major news outlets is generated by search engine referrals, but media outlets think that they can be stronger by lobbying the search engines out of the news-value-chain.

The corporate Google blog unveils the anachronistic lobbying efforts of the German news industry:http://googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.de/2012/11/defending-open-web-in-germany.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+EuropeanPublicPolicyBlog+(European+Public+Policy+Blog)

“The end result is that, as one of many ways people find news content, Google News and Google search sends around four billion clicks through to publishers each month. That’s significant for us because there is no advertising on Google News in Europe. But Google is frequently one of the advertising service providers for the major news publishers, so our opportunity to make money is when users click on a link and go to the site of one of our partners in the news industry.”

“Google: Publishing houses don’t get Market Economics, if they don’t understand that Clicks are THE online currency”

In a further press statement Google defends an open and free Internet in a way, which is rare for public listed companies. Google openly opposes the drafted law and stresses out how important Internet Freedom is:

“An ancillary copyright endangers one of the fundamental principles of the web, the possibility to share and search for information through links. The law would let users not always find what they are searching for. With our information campaign we want to let everybody know about the consequences and ask our users to also weigh in. We hope that the German parliament will oppose to the draft law.”

For more information, you can find Google’s campaign here:http://www.google.de/campaigns/deinnetz/

No matter where we live, we should be aware that there is a constant struggle for the freedom of expression, the freedom of sharing information, and keeping governments and cronies out of the Internet. We should never feel too comfortable or safe in terms of Internet Freedom just because we live in Western countries – Creeping regulation and censorship has to be unveiled and stopped by our generation: The generation, which grew up with an open Internet and benefited tremendously from that.

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