Google Fights Foreign Attempts to Charge Fees for Newspaper Links

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2012-11-27 Print this article Print

Germany, Italy and France are looking at allowing newspaper publishers to charge fees to search engines such as Google for links to their content.

Rob Enderle, principle analyst with the Enderle Group, said Google has maintained for a very long time that all information on the Internet should be free, and that idea has garnered the company its share of enemies. "The people who own that content find that strategy somewhat disturbing," said Enderle. "That's where the breakdown occurs."

So in other countries, where Google isn't a domestic company, other governments are willing to be far more aggressive in taking Google on over this issue, he said. "Because Google is a U.S. entity and not a domestic entity in those countries, then the rules are perhaps more harshly enforced, particularly when it looks like they are stealing money from local businesses."

Another part of the foreign attempts at taking Google on over the revenue issue is political grandstanding, said Enderle. "When you've got an overseas corporation at war with domestic politicians, there's really no downside for the politicians to take the overseas company to task. They look like heroes."

For Google, these battles abroad are likely going to get worse before they get better, said Enderle. "They're acting like Microsoft did in the past, where they think they are above others."

Such potential actions are less likely here in the United States because Google is a huge American company that pays taxes here and has clout, said Enderle.

Interestingly, the German Website appeal is the second time this week that Google is taking on foreign governments in the public arena.

On Nov. 26, Google announced a program to take its fight for Internet freedom to the public around the world as leaders of many nations prepare to meet to discuss how the Internet should be regulated in the years to come.

"Starting Dec. 3, the world’s governments meet behind closed doors to discuss the future of the Internet," wrote Google in a post on Google+. "This meeting of the International Telecommunication Union, or ITU, will take place in Dubai. Some governments want to use this meeting in Dubai to increase censorship and regulate the Internet."

For Google, the consequences of any tightening of Internet use or increases in regulations could have a direct and marked effect on the search giant's operations, revenue and independence, so it's apparently taking no chances of being blind-sided.

The ITU World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) runs through Dec. 14. The conference will review the current International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), which serve as the binding global treaty designed to facilitate international interconnection and interoperability of information and communication services, including the Internet. The last time the ITRs were negotiated was in 1988, way before today's modern Internet. "There is broad consensus that the text now needs to be updated to reflect the dramatically different information and communication technology (ICT) landscape of the 21st century," the group said on the ITU Website.

To make its own case known about the importance of Internet freedom and openness, Google created a Website where individuals can learn about steps they can take to ensure that the Internet doesn't restrict their own activities due to government actions. "Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future," wrote Google. "The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice."


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