back to article You want a 6% Google Tax? Get lost, German copyright bods told

After months of deliberations, Germany's national arbitration board on copyright has told German copyright collection company VG Media to go whistle over its proposal for a six per cent “Google Tax”. Although the ancillary copyright tax law does indeed apply to Google, said the board, which is part of the German Patent …

  1. Anonymous Coward

    intellectual property...

    Since when do we call eight words "intellectual property" ?

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: intellectual property...

      If they're German words eight is probably enough for a short novel.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: intellectual property...

      It was mainly the Axel Springer group. They were complaining that they were losing money, because people read the synopsis in Google News and never clicked through, so Google kept the ad revenue.

      After the law was implemented, Axel Springer rubbed their collective hands in glee, until they realised that Google simply delisted them. Most sensible publishers had already told Google to go ahead and carry on with what they were doing, they would waive the fee.

      After their page impressions plummeted, AS pretty much threw in the towel on round 1.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. The Travelling Dangleberries

          Re: intellectual property...

          @ Larry F54

          That book should be a compulsory text for everyone who goes through the school system. For so many reasons. It is one of my favourite books. I have only read it in English and Norwegian translation. When reading it in Norwegian it took me three attempts to get through the first three or so pages the "disclaimer" at the start of the first chapter. I had forgotten how densely written the mock legaleese was. A modern classic well worth reading (in any language of your choosing).

    3. TitterYeNot

      Re: intellectual property...

      "Since when do we call eight words "intellectual property" ?"

      Chapter 1.

      Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz und donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft mit siebenhundertsiebenundsiebzigtausendsiebenhundertsiebenundsiebzig massenkommunikationsdienstleistungsunternehmen ist sozialversicherungsfachangestelltenauszubildender.

      Chapter 2...

  2. Christoph

    If they don't want Google to show snippets, Google provides a simple method for them to tell Google in great detail how to index their news site. They can very easily switch off snippets - and accept the resultant drop in click-through to their site, and loss of their revenue.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      The problem is, they don't want Google to stop, they want Google to pay... After the law in Germany was passed, Google pro-actively stopped listing certain news sites, until the sites complained that they weren't getting any visitors and agreed to waive the payments.

      1. ratfox

        Money goes the other way

        The Spain experiment shows that publishers are actually benefiting from news aggregators rather than the reverse. In fact, if I remember correctly, publishers who want their articles to show up on Yahoo News actually have to pay Yahoo.

        Considering Google's whole profits come from getting paid to show links to websites, they probably have a very good knowledge of who profits from what. It is understandable that they refuse to pay up.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cry me a river....

    "Now the very publishers that wanted legislation to guarantee them royalties are lobbying the government to repeal the law, as traffic to their sites has dropped."


    1. Frank Bitterlich

      Re: cry me a river....

      The remedy is clear: 1) do it like Spain, add extra legislation making it lillegal/impossible for publishers to opt out; and 2) make it illegal for aggregators like Google to opt out as a consequence as well.

      (Optional: 3) make it illegal for the users to not read an article taxed in this way.)

      After all, it's called a "tax" for a reason.

      And, some simple math:

      6-11 % fee x 19-21 % VAT: Nice extra money for the state. But that, of course, has nothing to do with anything.

      1. Indolent Wretch

        Re: cry me a river....

        >> make it illegal for aggregators like Google to opt out as a consequence as well.

        Unless we live in a very authoritarian dictatorship you'll find it hard to stop Google opting out in the way that the did, they said sod it and left.

      2. localzuk

        Re: cry me a river....

        Can't be done that way - you can't force a company to offer a service/product. That's entirely up to the company.

        1. John Lilburne

          Re: cry me a river....

          There is some 3000 miles of Atlantic Ocean between Europe and the United States, suggest that Google stay on their side of it.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    They tried it in Germany and publishers waived their right. They tried it in Spain with a non-waivable right and it didn't work at all.

    Why carry on regardless? Unless it's about shutting out smaller players that people otherwise wouldn't find as easily.

    1. GrumpenKraut

      > Why carry on regardless?

      Politician's logic: After trying X and failing, trying more X and failing again, what to do? Try even more X because it HAS TO work!

      1. druck Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        GrumpenKraut wrote:

        Politician's logic: After trying X and failing, trying more X and failing again, what to do? Try even more X because it HAS TO work!

        Exactly, hence: Jeremy Corbin, socialism, the 1970s, and welcome to Venezuela.

        1. druck Silver badge

          Sorry; his name is Corbyn. The 'y' was too far to the left of the 'i' for my liking.

  5. joeW

    “If Google takes intellectual property from the EU and works with it..."

    "...the EU can protect this property"

    Indeed they can.


    User-agent: *

    Disallow: /

    1. Silviu C.

      Re: “If Google takes intellectual property from the EU and works with it..."

      Google's crawlers strictly respect robots.txt. They and Bing also support wildcards in robots.txt.

      So these dinosaurs can perfectly well keep their fucking drivel from appearing in the largest search engines. The thing is, they don't really want to. Greedy arseholes that they are. They want both the clicks that search engines bring their way AND a tax on those engines because "IP dawg".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: “If Google takes intellectual property from the EU and works with it..."

      I haven't played much with robots.txt, but can you specify a non-existing directory so you can block anyone who tries to access them?

      I found that most 404 logs of attempts to hack a small WP based test site by probing for vulnerable plugins tend to start with a request for robots.txt, so it's maybe a fun way to set up a trap for those who see "disallow" as an invitation and sling them straight onto a ban list.

      1. joeW

        Re: “If Google takes intellectual property from the EU and works with it..."

        That's a rather nice idea. Have a directory called /norobots, specify that it's off-limits to crawlers in your standard robots.txt file, and have an index.php script in that directory that adds the IP address of anything that requests it to a blacklist.

        I'll give it a try on one of my servers when I have time later this week.

      2. GrumpenKraut

        Re: “If Google takes intellectual property from the EU and works with it..."

        Also put a comment <!-- http://my.domain/BAD-SCRAPER --> to catch those even going through comments.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A tax is fine with me

    a tax is needed to protect what little is left of the local retail economy.

    Uber good !

    1. Bronek Kozicki

      Re: A tax is fine with me

      you should check what happened in Spain, where this tax actually killed local newspapers.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: A tax is fine with me

      No going to be much left of the German car industry either after they have been sued into the ground.

      Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel opening line in the case on behalf of the plaintiffs:

      "Think of all those poor children being gassed by German products"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A tax is fine with me

        I would have thought the suggestion of any link between Volkswagen and the Nazi party and their actions during and before the war are extremely unfounded.

        Except for, you know. The links. But that's beside the point.

  7. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Well, as long as Apple News is exempt from all taxes (as Apple currently is), then it's entirely fair to tax Google !!!

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    The Internet is global

    It is useless to pursue Internet companies locally, the case of Spain is a brilliant example.

    The only solution to the current taxation predicament is to set up an Internet Bureau of Taxation, which has authority in ALL countries. Internet revenue - whatever the amount - must be reported to the IBT, which will coordinate with the country where the revenue was generated to apply the required tax to the transaction. It can happen after the fact - everything is recorded.

    Thus, no more upping and outing. You made a billion dollars of revenue from Spanish ad clicks ? You get whatever tax is applicable, whether you are based in Honduras or New York.

    It's the Internet, don't tell me it's not technically possible.

    But of course, the money lies with the corporations required to make that happen, so not very likely.

    1. nijam Silver badge

      Re: The Internet is global

      > The only solution to the current taxation predicament is to set up an Internet Bureau of Taxation...

      Or go one step further and shut it down completely.

    2. MissingSecurity

      Re: The Internet is global

      This is dumb. News companies (and any sane website) are likely saving tons of money by designed SEO websites to take advantage of Google Indexing and not spending it on advertising their website articles 24/7.

      Won't the more sensible thing be to limit the summary piece? If I can get all the content I want from readying a summary than your content is shit. Taxing Google (or any other company on similar grounds) is a waste. Taxation on Ad revenue is one thing (probably already happens). but if google wanted to play that game, they could just as easily make any taxing up in charging more for Analytics, selling data to Ad companies, etc. with it all being pushed back on the site owner regardless.

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