Google wins legal battle with German publishers over fees

The European Union tightened its copyright rules in April, forcing Google to pay publishers for news pieces and Facebook to filter protected content. The 28 members of the bloc should implement those regulations in the next two years.

Google won a legal battle on Thursday after the European Court of Justice said publishers in Germany could not demand copyright payments from the tech firm since 2013 because the European Commission had not been notified of German regulation.

The German case underscores the battle waged by publishers seeking part of the revenue generated by news distribution on Alphabet services, such as Google News and YouTube.

The group of publishers previously said they were seeking as much as 1 billion euros from Google’s owner Alphabet in copyright fees for their news pieces and other items published by the US-based Internet company.

The German court has sought guidance from Europe’s highest court, the European Court of Justice of Luxembourg, which ruled that the EU executive had not been notified of the German technical regulation.

The German case arose after VG Media, a community of about 200 publishers, took Google to a German court to use text fragments, images and videos produced by its members without paying them.

The lawsuit was based on a German copyright law in force since August 2013.

“A German provision banning internet search engines from using newspaper or magazine pieces without the authorization of the publisher should be considered in the absence of its prior notice to the Commission,” the ECJ judges said.

Commenting on the decision, Google said in a statement: “We are pleased that this has now been clarified.”

Google previously said that most German publishers had allowed it to view the content free of charge and said they had benefited from free user traffic directed to their sites.

VG Media urged the German government to apply the new EU copyright rules immediately.

“This new European press publisher right favors press publishers by granting wider and more powerful rights than the German law of 2013,” its CEO Markus Runde said in a statement.

The German Justice Ministry said it would review the ECJ ruling and submit a draft law on the implementation of new European rules./Investing.com

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