Luxembourg (dpa) - Introduced in 2013, German copyright law for press publishers has been tipped by the European Court of Justice. It is not applicable because the Federal Government had not submitted the draft in advance to the EU Commission, as judges noted.
With the ancillary copyright, search engine operators have been obligated to pay a reimbursement to press publishers if they are excerpts from their content.
This year, the EU copyright reform decided on a similar European ancillary copyright, which must be transposed into national law by June 2021. German publishers' associations called for lawmakers to act swiftly after the verdict.
The German ancillary copyright for press publishers entered into force on 1 August 2013. The law states that only "single words or smallest text excerpts" - so-called snippets - should be freely used by search engines. On how long a so-called snippet can be after this formulation, there were debates until the last.
"The verdict basically means that Google can publish such snippets free of charge," said Michael Knospe, media law expert in the Munich office of Simmons & Simmons. This applies until the requirements of the new EU Directive are transposed into national law. "The Commission will also have to be informed about this implementation."
The ECJ commented on a case before the Berlin district court in which the collecting society VG Media demands compensation from Google. VG Media represents press publishers in Germany, including Axel Springer, Handelsblatt, Funke and Dumont. In August 2014, a number of publishers within the VG Media gave a "free consent" to Google, because otherwise they would no longer have been presented with snippets in search results.
At that time, the Federal Government had assumed that the draft would not have to be presented in Brussels. The Berlin district court asked the ECJ 2017 to consider this assessment. The judges in Luxembourg followed their appraiser's assessment that the German ancillary copyright specifically concerned providers of information society services. In these cases, a prior notification from the Commission is required under an EU directive. The step can not be made up.
"We are pleased that this is now clear," said Google on Thursday just before the ECJ ruling.
The managing director of VG Media, Markus Runde, emphasized that the decision only concerns the period between 2013 and the adoption of the new EU Copyright Directive in April 2019. European press publishing law has become more widespread and robust in favor of publishers. «The press publishers therefore ask the German legislator to ensure legal security immediately.»
"The ECJ ruling confused," said the Association of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV), the Association of German Local Newspapers (VDL) and the Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) and referred to the newly agreed ancillary copyright in the EU Directive. Now it is "the task of the German legislator to ensure legal certainty quickly and to implement the European press protection law swiftly and clearly in advance."