Germany’s controversial ancillary copyright legislation (Leistungsschutzgesetz) comes into effect on 1st August 2013. The legislation brings with it uncertainty which has led many online content aggregators to remove snippets from their websites.

German copyright law: Rivva to deactivate snippets © fotodo -
German copyright law: Rivva to deactivate snippets © fotodo –

Snippets to be deactivated

The content aggregator, has announced that from 1st August 2013 it will remove snippets from its website in light of uncertainties surrounding Germany’s ancillary copyright legislation. The online service estimates that the content from around 650 local newspapers and magazines will no longer appear in the aggregation.

Snippets are short pieces of text which are displayed by online search engine services such as Google.

The original draft ancillary copyright legislation provided for online news services, including news aggregators which automatically collect and provide links to content from other websites, to pay a fee to press publishers for even the smallest of texts displayed.

The draft was reworked shortly before it was due to be adopted so that “individual words or the shortest excerpts of text” may continue to be displayed free of charge (see §87f of the amended Copyright Act). As a result, clean URLs or headlines may continue to be used free of any licence or commission free.

This exception has led to uncertainty, as the number of characters a snippet may contain before it attracts a fee is not laid down in the legislation.

For this reason Google News developed a declaration which online media operators should submit if they wish snippets of their content to continue to be displayed in the search engine’s search results.

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