German parliament to discuss controversial online copyright bill

Earlier this week, Google started a campaign against the proposed law

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  IT Management

Not only tech companies are concerned though. "There is a risk of incalculable negative consequences," said scholars at the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition Law in a position paper on the proposed law. Many German and European law scholars are concerned about the bill, they said, and the Max Planck contingent said they have not seen the need for such copyright protection.

Publishers and search engines need each other and if they work together the Internet can actually be put to good use, they wrote. "Without content the search engines wouldn't find anything, and without search engines, the vast amount of information on the Internet wouldn't be found," they said, adding that both parties benefit from the current situation.

Overall, the proposed law is not well thought through, and it can not be justified by any substantive argument, the scholars said. And since not even the publishers unanimously agree on the necessity of the bill and a similar proposal was almost unanimously canceled by politicians 2010, any basis necessary to adopt the proposed rule is lacking, they wrote.

Meanwhile, five youth organizations connected to German political parties released a joint statement on Thursday in which they pleaded against the proposed copyright reform, calling it an "interference in the freedom of the Internet."

Google was criticized for its campaign against the law. The search engine "obviously" tries to use its own users for lobbying interests "under the pretext of a so-called project for the freedom of the Internet", wrote Günter Krings and Ansgar Heveling, politicians of the CDU and CSU conservative parties, who together form the biggest block in the German parliament, on their website.

"It is a remarkable process, that a company uses the public for its own economic interests," they wrote, adding that Google's behavior doesn't contribute to the factual weighing of the arguments. "With the bill we want to achieve that quality journalism will have a balanced competition in our country on the Internet too," they wrote.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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