Google fighting German plan for linking fee

Company kicks off a campaign against German government proposals that would force search engines to pay a copyright fee every time they bring up a snippet of a news story in results.

David Meyer Special to CNET News.com

Google has kicked off a campaign against a proposed German law that would force search engine providers to pay copyright fees every time they return a news article in their results.

The Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger, or "ancillary copyright for press publishers," would provide an extension of copyright in Germany to cover snippets of articles, such as those that show up in search results so the user can tell what each result is about. It is being proposed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition and follows intense lobbying by publishing giant Axel Springer and others.

Google today launched a petition against the plan, arguing that they would make it much harder for Web surfers to find what they are looking for. Google has complained about the Leistungsschutzrecht before, but is now stepping up its opposition due to the fact that the bill will be debated this week in the Bundestag. "Most people have never heard of this proposed legislation," Google country director Stefan Tweraser said in a statement. "Such a law would affect every Internet user in Germany [and] mean less information for consumers and higher costs for companies."

Read more of "Google launches petition against German 'link tax' proposals" at ZDNet.