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If you think the USA's copyright laws are draconian and unfair then you'll really be astonished at some of the measures the Germans have in place (and planned) to *allegedly* protect the rights of their IP creators.
For a start, Germany has GEMA, a royalties collection body that aggressively demands payment from anyone who broadcasts (or makes available for download) any creative work containing musical content.
Examples of just how aggressive they are can be seen in the numerous claims they have made against sites like YouTube.
But now things are really getting silly -- and it's hard not to mention the war (sorry Mr Cleese). I think the latest move by Germany is about as ill-advised as their decision to pick a fight with Britain and the USA in WW2.
The latest claim to idiocy by the German creative industries is a bid to force websites to *pay* for links to German news sites.
Yes, I thought we'd "been there, done that, got the teeshirt" way-back in the 1990s when I was running 7am News.
Gosh... has Murdoch defected -- but I thought that even *he* had finally realised that this was a really, really stupid idea?
The only possible (rational) explanation I can come up with for this proposal is that they're being cunning like a fox...
In light of the massive rise in cyber-activism and cyber-civil-disobedience, I wonder if they're planning this in the full knowledge that one possible response would be very positive for traffic (and advertising). Tell the bloggers of the world that they may not link without paying -- and what will they do?
Those outside your jurisdiction (ie: everywhere but Germany) will link to your stories "because they can" and in an attempt to give you the virtual fingers.
Result -- $$profit$$
Of course we know that's rather unlikely and any surge in traffic would be decidedly short-lived.
These fools really do think that they're going to earn more money by charging linking fees than would be gleaned from the traffic that those links provide.
Unbelievable -- this is thinking which is a decade and a half old.
The Nando Times tried this silly stunt back in 1988 -- and failed abysmally -- why do the Germans think their proposal will not be treated with similar levels of scorn and derision?
The answer to that is GEMA.
The actions of this organisation are proof that the Germans are not afraid to look silly in the eyes of the world.
But let's examine this proposal a little more closely...
What if the courts did grant newspapers a right to charge for linking to their pages?
If this precedent was set, *anyone* could demand similar rights and, before you knew it, a key part of the Net infrastructure (free search engines) could crumble before our very eyes.
It's clear that the news media world-wide is really grasping at straws to try and recover the halcyon days of print when they could almost charge what they wanted for every column-cm of advertising space and make a fortune out of classifieds.
Well I'm sorry but those days are forever gone -- the news industry, just like the music and movie industries, needs to start adapting its business model to meet the demands, limitations and strengths of the new medium and its users.
I think it's fair to say that *nothing* productive ever comes from hiring a school of sharks to try and legislate your way to profit -- maybe they'd be better off hiring *creative* people to devise new strategies and models instead.
So, how much will *you* be charging people to link to your websites and will you use the revenues from that to retire to the Costa del Sol or Tauranga?
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