EU to Quiz Germany Over Draft Rules for Google’s News Clips

Germany will be quizzed by European Union regulators over a draft law that limits what Google Inc., and other so-called aggregators, can use to bundle news clips on the Internet.

EU regulators analyzed the bill passed by German parliamentarians last week and will seek further information from the country’s government, Carlo Corazzo, a spokesman for the European Commission, said in an e-mail. The Brussels-based authority received complaints over the draft law on ancillary copyright, he said.

Google and others may continue to show short news items on their Internet sites without being required to pay, German lawmakers decided in last week’s parliamentary vote. Publishers including Axel Springer AG and Bertelsmann SE, which face falling revenue from newspapers and magazines, have argued that search engines and aggregators like Google News should pay for displaying short excerpts from news stories.

Publishers would retain the exclusive right of use for any content exceeding “single words or very small text excerpts,” under the draft agreed last week. The bill by Germany’s Justice Ministry gives publishers one year during which they have the sole rights to commercially use their journalistic content. The draft needs to be approved by Germany’s upper house before it can enter into force.

Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels declined to comment. Google said last week in response to the German vote that “ancillary copyright in its most damaging form has been stopped” and the best outcome for Germany would be no new legislation that may threaten innovation.

Google, which doesn’t display ads on its news aggregator pages in Europe, argued its so-called “snippets” are actually helping publishers by driving traffic to their sites.

Corazza referred to EU rules that seek to cut technical standards set by one country which may hamper trade across the 27-nation bloc. He didn’t say who complained to the EU regulator.

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