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German publishers play nice with Google News despite dispute

The publishers will allow Google News to share snippets of their stories -- for now.


German publishers, who have criticized Google News for freely displaying their content without any remuneration, have decided to temporarily support the service they seem to dislike.

New laws went into effect in Germany on Thursday that govern how news aggregators, like Google News, can display publisher content on their sites. Google and other aggregators have argued that the tighter rules unfairly hurt their services, and pave the way for publishers to charge them just to display a portion of their content.

The new regulations, which were backed by publishers, seem to be a thorn in their side at the same time. A host of major German publishers today announced that they would opt in to Google News, despite the service being the reason behind the changed law.

The move speaks to the odd space Web publishers find themselves in. While they might not like that Google News can share their content without requiring users to click through to their sites, it's a major contributor to traffic that drives their revenue.

After Germany voted in favor of the law earlier this year, Google announced that it would ask publishers to opt in to its service without requiring the search giant to pay a fee. And not surprisingly, many of the top publishers across the country have done just that.

However, the Associated Press, which was first to report on the news, spoke with representatives from Axel Springer AG, one of the larger German publishers, who said that the opt-in was only temporary while it could work out a cost structure for charging aggregators to display content.

For its part, Google has argued that it's offering a free service to readers that actually benefits publishers. The company does not believe that it should be charged to display small portions of a particular article.