ETNO has earned notoriety for its ill-considered proposal to impose the old sending-party-network-pays principle on networks that house servers carrying attractive content. It is clear that ETNO and its allies in Egypt and elsewhere are is looking beyond the “sending party” networks at the OTT players such as Google and Facebook, who they perceive as those with the real money.
Greed loves company. The old style telcos who make up the membership of ETNO are not alone. The old-style media firms of Europe would also like to get their hands on the earnings of Google et al. And sadly, they seem to have the support of the French government (this seems to be bipartisan, Sarkozy was also trying to control the Internet) and surprisingly of the German government too.
The copyright proposal in Germany has drawn opposition from a wide range of groups, including lobbyists for nonpublishing businesses, who see it adding costs, because they might have to pay more for online information. The Green party and libertarian groups have denounced it as a restraint on free speech. Bloggers have mocked it as backward-looking and cumbersome to enforce.
“In the end, what underlies the term ‘ancillary copyright’ is nothing more than an attempt to subsidize German newspapers at the expense of other sectors,” wrote Justus Haucap, president of an independent commission that advises the German government on competition matters, in the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. “There is no objective justification for it. Such a subsidy merely slows down structural change and hinders the development of innovative business models.”
Google argues that its links are responsible for four billion visits to French news sites each month, and that they would be foolish to risk losing this traffic. But publishers say they doubt that Google would actually follow through on its threat to stop indexing their content, saying this would undermine the company’s stated commitment to free speech.