We are well aware of Google’s ongoing legal troubles with European government. Possibly the most dramatic being the raid of Google’s Paris offices back in May, as part of a long running investigation into their tax affairs.
In the latest exchange, the European commission, which is the executive body of the European Union, has proposed rules for sites that host content, such as Google and Facebook to pay royalties to content creators and publishers.
Traditionally, this sort of protection has always been used for record labels, broadcasters and performers, but this particular legislation would see an increased focus on content creators and publishers. Some of which have seen declining revenues, despite increases in referral traffic from sites such as Google and Facebook.
These laws have been designed to give more power to the creators and publishers that create the content published on Google and Facebook. It’s unclear what kind of changes this legislation will have on the industry. There are doubts as to whether it will actually be effective or if it will attract more revenue for publishers.
Previous attempts at similar legislation in Europe have not gone quite as planned. Google shut down the Spanish Google News site, after Spain introduced a levy back in 2014.
In the same year, Germany’s biggest publisher Axel Springer opted out of Google news coverage after Google refused to pay licencing fees for their stories. Following this, Axel Springer’s organic traffic took a nosedive and the arrangement had to be reversed.
When legislative measures, like the ones proposed by the EU go wrong, it can lead to serious consequences for publishers who rely on sites like Google for large portions of their traffic.
However in this case, rather than simply holding content to ransom from Google, the new EU prepositions are said to be part of a “Digital Single Market in Europe” drive, which aims to reduce differences in copyright and licensing laws between nations. Current systems are often thought of as archaic and incompatible with modern digital publishing avenues.
These rules also apply to YouTube and other popular video broadcasting sites. This proposal will be put to consultation in September.
Hopefully it will be a step towards finding a fair and suitable compromise between Google, government and content creators.