Google will not have to pay to use snippets of news content in Germany, according to a copyright law (pdf) that was passed in the country.
We discussed the proposed law last year, which Google had spoken out about. At the time, it looked like, if passed, it would have required search engines and aggregators to pay to license content from publishers in order to display headlines (with links) and snippets of text.
At the time, A Google spokesperson told WebProNews, “We don’t have any sympathy for these plans, as an ancillary copyright lacks all factual, economic, and legal foundation. And we are not alone with this opinion: The Federation of German Industries (BDI) and 28 other associations vehemently oppose an ancillary copyright for publishers. The German parliament is divided on the issue as well. For a good reason: An ancillary copyright would mean a massive damage to the German economy. It’s a threat to the freedom of information. And it would leave Germany behind internationally as a place for business.”
“Publishers should be innovative in order to be successful,” the Googler added. “A compulsory levy for commercial internet users means cross-subsidizing publishers through other industries. This is not a sustainable solution.”
“In difficult economic times, the Internet is thriving, generating economic gains, creating jobs and giving struggling businesses a vital lifeline,” they said. “It is important that any legislation supports, rather than hinders innovation on the internet to encourage new jobs and economic growth.”
It appears that things went a lot better than they could have, but the law still leaves question about how much text can actually be used in a snippet. As TechDirt points out, the wording says that quotations will still have to be licensed unless they are "single words or the smallest excerpts," without defining what "smallest excerpts" actually means.
I guess we'll see where it goes from here.