New EU Law Could See Google Abandoning Thumbnails, Looking …

Google stands to look drastically different if a new copyright law that has just been passed comes into full effect. Throughout Europe, companies like Google could be faced with the prospect of paying a licensing fee to use images for thumbnails, something that has always previously been legal.

It was less than six months ago, in September 2018, that the European Parliament voted for the EU Copyright Directive, something that has been divisive among critics. To illustrate the potential consequences, Google has mocked up how its pages may look, should the bill come into power.

Final decisions haven’t been made, but as it stands Article 11 “would force Google and other news aggregators to pay non-waivable licensing fees when photo thumbnails and article excerpts are displayed.” In contrast, US law says such usage is fair game.

Elsewhere, Article 13 would mean companies such as Google would be required to verify whether all uploads potentially infringe copyright. In theory, it’s a nice move that will protect photographers – but it stands to disrupt day-to-day internet usage quite drastically.

Google News VP Richard Gingras wrote last month.

Article 11 could change that principle and require online services to strike commercial deals with publishers to show hyperlinks and short snippets of news. This means that search engines, news aggregators, apps, and platforms would have to put commercial licences in place, and make decisions about which content to include on the basis of those licensing agreements and which to leave out. Effectively, companies like Google will be put in the position of picking winners and losers.

Posting the mock-up screenshots, Search Engine Land drew comparisons to it looking as though pages have “failed to completely load.” 

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