Tech industry sharply criticizes German online copyright bill

The proposed law is bad for business and will probably lead to years of litigation, the companies said

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  IT Management

The proposed law also has the potential to hit small local search engines like the Germany-based Yahoo search especially hard, he said. "Specialized attorneys will use the proposed intellectual property right as a new business model," he said, adding that the German search engines are likely to be an easier target than U.S.-based providers like Bing and Google. Local search engines are likely to get hit first with cease-and-desist requests, probably followed by claims for legal fees and licensing demands, he said.

Also, it is technically impossible for search engines to exclude all news articles from search results because search algorithms cannot determine whether or not a website offers newspaper content, he said.

Opposition also comes from the Federation of German Startups. The proposed law slows innovation and gives companies a competitive disadvantage, especially on an international level, the federation stated on its website.

The federation's backers include David Khalil, CEO of dating site eDarling, who warned that German Internet users are likely to be partially excluded from the use of advanced information services if the bill becomes law.

A similar argument was used by Google when it launched a campaign against the proposed law in November, saying that such a law can "massively disturb" the way people search and find information on the Internet.

While players in the German online industry opposed the copyright bill, the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) emphasized in its opinion sent to the Cabinet that the law is necessary to protect publishers' rights. Publishers are not after statutory compensation fees, but rather want a legal basis to prohibit undesirable uses and to allow desired uses of their content, wrote Christoph Keese, public affairs manager for publishing company Axel Springer who will represent the publishers at Wednesday's hearing.

The BDZV proposed to add protection for bloggers, a category of publishers that at the moment isn't protected by the draft law. Private parties, law firms as well as other commercial businesses are also not protected.

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