The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has overturned the German ancillary copyright for press publishers. The Federal Government should first have submitted the draft to the European Commission, the judges ruled on Thursday. Since this was not done, the scheme was not applicable.
It is a matter of form: according to the ECJ, the German ancillary copyright is a so-called technical regulation whose draft should have been sent to the EU Commission. VG Media had sued: It represents German press publishers and wanted compensation from Google for the search engine to display small sections of articles.
For the publishers, however, the verdict is only a temporary setback: in March, the EU launched a new copyright directive, which includes a European copyright law for press publishers. The Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers, the Association of German Local Newspapers and the Association of German Magazine Publishers demanded in a reaction to the ECJ ruling that the European regulation must now be implemented quickly.
The ancillary copyright law came into force in Germany in 2013. The newspaper publishers wanted to make Google so to pay for sentences from press articles that pulls the search engine. The US company argued that users would benefit by linking to the publisher's pages and the higher traffic would generate more advertising revenue. Ultimately, the ancillary copyright remained in Germany almost ineffective, because Google simply could not play the websites of publishers in the search results. Therefore, many publishers gave the tech company an exemption.
The VG Media had originally sued in the district court Berlin. This had in turn been transferred to the ECJ and an interpretation of EU law. The district court had suspended the proceedings in May 2017.