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Google Inc. (GOOG) Search is Target of French Publishers

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), which is celebrating 14 years of existence  as one of the enduring brands that survived the dot-com bubble burst of 2000, has been proud of its claims to search the Internet and provide the most comprehensive search results available. And there is little doubt that Google’s search capabilities have been useful in getting various authors and publishers noticed not just domestically but in other parts of the world as well. And that  exposure has likely gained some value – difficult to measure as it may be – to many of these authors and publishers. Now, in France and in Germany, there is a movement afoot to actually put a monetary value to Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) search results.

Sergey Brin

The movement has taken form in legislation, the most recent passed in Germany that would allow publishers to charge Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) to show titles and first-paragraph excerpts as part of Google search results. Citing the large amount of advertising revenue Google receives from its search-results pages and in the interest of broader copyright protections, the Germans want to charge search engines for their results that feature publishers’ authors and written work, citing that they and their authors lose money  because many people get what they need from the title and the excerpt so that they don’t actually click through to the full article or story. This is designed to help offset some of those perceived losses.

This proposal is welcomed in France, as well, as the French National Magazine Publishers’ Society (SEPM) and the French Union of the Daily Press (SPQN) – the country’s newspaper advocacy group – are apparently working with their political colleagues in the French parliament to pass a similar law that would provide additional protections for copyrighted work. However, in response to the German proposal, Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) spokeswoman Kay Oberbeck called it a “threat to the freedom of information,” would severely damage the German economy and make the country less desirable for business.

How much revenue would the publishers lose if Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) refuses to list the works on its search results? How much would Google lose without those published works in its search results? Those are questions that may be answered over time, or investors in Google stock – like hedge-fund manager Chase Coleman of Tiger Global Management LLC – likely already suspect the answers and will likely act accordingly.

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