Yahoo has complained to Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court about a copyright law, which it says is unconstitutional. The law in question seeks to protect copyright of publishers, and is said to “amount to a tax on search engines.”
Yahoo’s position in this is somewhat unique (compared to Google and Bing) as it is both a publisher and a search engine.
Here’s Yahoo’s statement (roughly translated via Google Translate):
Yesterday we filed a constitutional complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court that provides the constitutionality of the regulated in § § 87f, 87g copyright law power protection law of the press publisher in question. Which entered into force in August 2013 related right forces search engines and news aggregators in Germany to obtain the consent of the publishers for the use of more than “single-word” or “smallest text extracts” from press articles and to pay royalties. Due to the vagueness of the law and thereby suffered border legal uncertainty we felt forced us to change the design of our search results in the German news search.
Our goal is to provide our users search results as personalized and provide fully available as possible, no matter where in the world they are located. Results our news search in Germany are in contrast to those in other countries but now less comprehensive and informative. , we are of the view that the related right is an unconstitutional restriction on the freedom of information of Internet users, as a targeted information obtaining on the internet without the help of search engines is not feasible.
The Basic Law requires the State to protect the freedom of information and thus the structures that guarantee the information obtaining. Therefore, we consider the related right to the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Basic Law (Article 5 of the Basic Law), also the occupational freedom (Article 12 GG) and the principle of equality (Art. 3 GG) incompatible.
Finally, we are of the view that the related right due to its vagueness violates the principle of legality and thus leads to an unacceptable legal uncertainty. Yahoo is particularly affected by the intellectual property right: As a digital media company and provider of a great editorial content, we are mainly also press publisher in sense of power protection law.
Yahoo’s search engine providers so as required by law and at the same time “protected” as a press publishers. As a provider of content we feel a high-quality and market-driven journalism honoriertem just as committed to fair competition in the search market. since 1996 we offer our German users services with the aim to to provide them with the best possible user experience. We hope that the court will decide in our favor and thus shall ensure that German users can enjoy the same breadth of information online as users elsewhere in the world.
The law reportedly gives publishers the exclusive right to the commercial use of their content, except when single words or “small” tex snippets are used. As Lorek Essers at PCWorld explains, “The exemption for small text snippets was added to allow search engines and aggregators to continue to show parts of news articles without infringing on copyright. However, publishers interpret the law differently and are demanding compensation from search engines.”
Yep, that’s pretty much how it always goes.
In similar news, a “Google Tax” law in Spain could lead to Google to end Google News in that country to avoid paying for the right to link to content. That’s a relatively new law, which still has to clear another house. The German law Yahoo is battling is a year old.
Image via Yahoo