The EU and search engines: what are we fighting for?

Written by on September 12, 2016 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

Fuse is burning. Dynamite FuseContent regulation that can only spectacularly backfire. The EU’s latest proposal to allow media outlets to charge search engines to index their content is a frightening sign of how the EU has the potential to damage the Internet experience for all EU users.

The idea is to change EU copyright law such that the owners of content indexed by search engines will be able to charge the search engines a fee for doing so.

  • The problem here is simple:
  • The owners of the content derive far more benefit from having their content indexed than the search engines do.
  • Consequently, when the search engines stop indexing their content, as a result of having to pay for it, content owners will see the traffic to their content plummet and their advertising revenue with it.
  • The net result is likely to be that content owners quickly re-adjust their pricing to zero and this storm in a teacup will quickly be consigned to the scrapheap of EU regulations that don’t work.
  • The strange thing is that this has already been tried in Germany where the impact on Axel Springer’s traffic was so severe that it had to scrap the levy.
  • It has also been tried in Spain where Google responded by closing down its news service, making it more difficult for users to find the news stories they were interested in.
  • The EU proposal notes these failures but hopes that an EU wide harmonisation of this regulation will somehow make a difference.
  • The worrying thing here is not the proposal itself, as I think this will disappear without a trace, but the fact that EU thinks that it might work.
  • This demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of how the Internet works and increases my concerns that the EU will eventually regulate some other area of the Internet with much more serious consequences.
  • What the EU fails to understand is that it is the user that is in the driving seat not the commission itself.
  • Almost every session on the Internet, that is not an app, begins with a web search because that is the easiest way for users to find what they want.
  • The EU is supposed to be concerned with the best interest of EU-based Internet users but as far as I can see, this will achieve nothing other than to damage their Internet experience.
  • With regards to the investigation into Google’s practices with Android, I think that the EU is doing a much better job (see here) but in this case it is in the interest of users to leave this well alone.

This article was first published on RadioFreeMobile.

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About the Author

About the Author: Dr Richard Windsor is the founder of Radio Free Mobile which is an independent research provider. The research helps clients to understand and evaluate the players in the digital ecosystem and presents a unique perspective on how all the pieces fit together in an easy to read and digest way. The product is available on a subscription basis and counts members of the handset, telecom carrier, Internet, semiconductor and financial industries as its subscribers. RFM is the land of the one man band meaning that Dr. W. also makes the tea. .


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