2/13/2016, 3:05 PM (Source: TeleTrader)
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To tax or not to tax: EU's search engine dilemma

The European Commission (EC) still hasn't decided if there should be a tax for search engines, dubbed the "Google tax", according to a letter from a European commissioner published late on Friday.

The European Commissioner vice president Andrus Ansip has sent a letter to a group to a Members of European Parliament (MEPs) in which he claims the EC still has not decided whether to introduce an ancillary copyright law for press publishers, which would allow news publishers to charge the internet search engines should they include their articles in search results.

The ancillary copyright laws are already introduced in Germany and Spain. The results were not as good as intended: Google News halted its operations in Spain in 2014, and in Germany publishers accepted the need to be shown in search results, and caved in.

The unexpected pressure comes from publishing giant Axel Springer SE, as the Berlin, Germany-based pushed for the application of such a law across the European Union (EU). The publishing group spent around $400 million (€355 million) to acquire the U.S.-based business, technology and lifestyle magazine Business Insider in September 2015, and pursuing such a law could damage its own interests, despite its other successful ventures across Europe.

The Andrus Ansip's letter, published on the blog of MEP Julia Reda of the Swedish Pirate Party, said the Commission continues dialogue in a transparent way with stakeholders, including press publishers and news aggregators. Julia Reda refutes that by outlining a deep flaw: "Only people who first indicated that they were rightsholders were even presented questions specifically related to this topic – all but guaranteeing that the results would be one-sided."

While the EU commissioner claims that the bloc was trying to improve circulation of content, Save The Link campaign's own parallel survey, including 10,599 of gathered responses, was completely ignored in Brussels.

The question is of huge importance for the EU's own Digital Agenda, which was confirmed by EU Digital Commissioner Günther Öttinger, and the solution should make peace between the freedom of information dissemination, accounting for intellectual and similar copyrights, and protection of the EU-based business.

Breaking the News / ZR