A Berlin court this week questioned whether Germany had properly adopted a 2013 online copyright law designed to compel Google to pay publishers for summarizing their news contents in web searches.
If the court ultimately rules the 2013 Ancillary Copyright Law was invalid, it would be a setback to local publishers.
The case in Berlin District Court is the first test of the law adopted four years ago.
German publishers, including Handelsblatt Publishing, the owner of Handelsblatt Global, want Google and other search engines to reimburse them for summarizing snippets of their news content in web searches.
Under the new law, Google was supposed to start paying for this privilege on August 1, 2013. But Google has refused, saying the German law is not valid. The case was brought before the Berlin court after VG Media, an association of privately owned publishers and broadcasters including Handelsblatt and Axel Springer, publisher of Bild newspaper, sued Google.
Google, the world’s largest search engine and the dominant engine in Germany, argues it is only printing small snippets of news for indexing purposes, and its search service benefits publishers by making their contents available to a wider global audience.