Google reverses policy in Germany – publishers must now opt-in to Google News



In a reversal of Google’s standard policy, German publishers must now opt-in to be included in Google News. The policy change is a response to a new intellectual copyright law for publishers passed by Germany’s Bundestag in March.

The new law enters into force on 1 August 2013. “In light of this development, and in light of the legal uncertainty that comes from the law, we have introduced a new confirmation system,” Google Deutschland Strategic Partner Development Manager Gerrit Rabenstein said in a company blog post in German today.

If publishers who currently appear in Google News do not agree to the confirmation statement (via Google Webmaster Tools), their content will be cut from Google News from the start of August. The policy change won’t affect results that appear in Google Search.

In all other countries, Google will maintain its current policy. If a publisher makes its content available on the internet, it wil be included in Google News. Those who don’t wish to be included can opt-out using technical options such as robots.txt or by sending a request to Google.

The German publishing lobby who pushed for the new intellectual copyright law wanted an opt-in system for Google News – and hoped it would lead to some kind of licensing agreement. Google claims it directs six billion visits to publishers each month and doesn’t believe it should pay for that service. The publishers had argued Google News went beyond a reasonable level of content aggregation.

Today’s announcement by Google makes no suggestion that a paid licensing system is a possibility. It follows recent settlements on related topics between Google and publishers in France and Belgium.

Image credit: Flickr user NS Newsflash