German Lawmakers Approve Restrictive Online Copyright Law

Designed to force Google, other online outlets to pay for reproducing content


German lawmakers approved legislation Friday that grants publishers the right to charge search engines and other online aggregators for reproducing their stories, but continues to allow the free use of text in links and brief summaries.

As originally proposed by the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel last year, the law was seen as a clear attempt by a European government to force major Internet companies like Google to share some of the billions of euros they earn from the sale of advertising placed alongside the news that Google links to.

But a last-minute change, proposed this past week by the Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in Ms. Merkel's government, allowed for the use of "individual words or the smallest excerpts of text" free of charge, meaning that only those companies who reproduce full texts for commercial use will be required to compensate the news publishers.