A German government committee is proposing changes that could force search engines operating in the country to pay for using news excerpts. The plans involve setting up a department to charge royalties from sites that aggregate news feeds, and covers them for 12-months from date of publish. This isn't the first country to attempt to protect publishers' material, with the Newspaper Licensing Agency in the UK also performing a similar role. Before you hide your news blog from German eyes, the ruling will only affect commercial outfits.
Germany's publishing executives have been pushing for such a move since a case in Belgium that saw Google News forced to stop excerpting articles. Unsurprisingly there is strong support from the industry, with 149 execs from the country already having petitioned the government with a "Hamburg Declaration on Intellectual Property Rights" proposal in 2009, and both the German Federation of Newspaper Publishers and Association of German Magazine Publishers also campaigning for change. Now that the committee has laid down clear plans, it remains to be seen if or how they will be implemented, but with the nation's track record for pulling no punches
where technology is concerned, search engines might have to prepare for a rapid change in policy.