Germany and online journalism

By | October 29, 2009

NYTimes, Germany Looks at Ways to Protect Online Journalism: As Angela Merkel begins her second term as chancellor of Germany, her government is promoting a novel way to help embattled newspaper and magazine publishers manage the transition to a digital future.

The new governing coalition, led by Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats and including the Free Democratic Party, has pledged to create a new kind of copyright to protect online journalism. The goal is to level the playing field with Internet companies like Google, which German publishers accuse of exploiting their content to build lucrative businesses without sharing the rewards.

“The Internet cannot be a copyright-free zone,” the coalition says in a document setting out its policies.

Supporters of the proposal include Hubert Burda Media, a magazine publisher, and Axel Springer, owner of the newspapers Bild and Die Welt, who say it could be employed to help build new online business models. Analysts say it might allow them to try to claim royalties for the use of their content by Google or other online “aggregators” of news, for example.

But the plan is raising hackles on the Internet, where opponents say an extension of copyright law runs counter to the spirit of openness that characterizes the Web. The government, they say, has succumbed to lobbying by big publishing interests that are fighting a rear-guard action against technological changes.

The proposal “has no value for our society,” said Markus Beckedahl, a blogger based in Berlin and advocate of an unfettered Internet. “It only has value for publishers who see a threat from the democratization of the media. Continue reading

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