German publishers warring with Google — and the link and the internet — have now completed their humiliation at their own hands, capitulating to Google and allowing it to continue quoting and linking to them. How big of them.
The pathetic sequence of their fight:
1. German publishers under the banner of a so-called trade group called VG Media and led by conservative publisher Axel Springer called in who knows what political chits to get legislators to create a new, ancillary copyright law — the Leistungsschutzrecht — to forbid Google et al from quoting even snippets to link to them.
2. In negotiations in the legislature, snippets were then allowed.
3. The publishers went after Google anyway, contending that Google should pay them 11 percent of revenue over the use of snippets.
4. Google, being sued over the use of the snippets, said it would take down the snippets from those publishers this week.
5. The publishers said that for Google to take down the snippets they were using to blackmail Google amounted to Google blackmailing the publishers. And you thought Germans were logical.
6. The publishers went to the government cartel office to complain that Google was using its market power against them.
7. Officials laughed the publishers out of the cartel office.
8. Now the publishers have said that Google can use its snippets for free while this legal matter is being ironed out.
Of course, the publishers never wanted the snippets taken down because they depend on those snippets and links for the audience Google sends to them … for free. It is all their cynical game to try to disadvantage their new and smarter competitor. Those who can, compete. Those who can’t, use their political clout.
I have written a much longer essay about the damage these German publishers are doing to Germany’s standing that I am trying to place in a print publication — so I can speak to the print people. I’ll link to it when that happens. Here’s the lede:
I worry about Germany and technology. I fear that protectionism from institutions that have been threatened by the internet — mainly media giants and government — and the perception of a rising tide of technopanic in the culture will lead to bad law, unnecessary regulation, dangerous precedents, and a hostile environment that will make technologists, investors, and partners wary of investing and working in Germany.
LATER: Ah, there’s another chapter already.
9. Like Japanese soldiers stuck on an island thinking the war continues, Axel Springer has declared that Google must take down snippets from four of its brands: Die Welt, and the auto, sport, and computer subbrands of Bild. Note well that they didn’t do that with superbrand Bild, their largest newspaper and the largest in Germany. They need the eggs. So as it loses its argument that Google is a cartel, the German publishers’ cartel crumbles.