The Washington Times has an opinion piece that takes a shot at German Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration over what they are calling a proposed "Drudge Tax." The reference is to conservative Matt Drudge's popular web site The Drudge Report, which aggregates news from all over the web. While the flavor of The Drudge Report may not sit well with many, the concern with a new proposal being pushed by Merkel's administration is that it will levy taxes on web sites that aggregate content.
So besides The Drudge Report, popular sites like Real Clear Politics, Digg, Fark, and Reddit could end up paying a fee for aggregating content. Of course Google is in that mix too but it already has an apparatus in place for companies and websites that don’t want their content aggregated (i.e. to show up in their searches) to remove themselves from the mix.
Of course any publication with the aim of surviving on the Internet isn't stupid enough to remove themselves from Google. Further, European publications that want to charge a fee to aggregators are basically committing suicide if they support such draconian methods because aggregators like The Drudge Report, Digg and Reddit drive ridiculous amounts of traffic to sites featured on them.
"Online commercial vendors, such as search engines and news aggregators, should in the future pay a fee to publishers for the distribution of press products (such as news articles) on the Internet,” the proposal document explains.
Basically any online business that links to a news article with even a brief excerpt is subject to the fee. We do not know what the fee would be, nor do we hope to ever find out. What we hope is that Germany and any other country in the world foolish enough to do this will ultimately pay the price. Sites that currently aggregate content would suddenly stop doing so. In fact some of them might even institute rules that would not allow links from certain publications to be posted on their sites.
Then there's the legality of it all. Is it even legal for Germany to insists that the rest of the world pay their companies money? What does the rest of Europe think about it? What about Americans? Chances are that the general consensus is that it's a horrible idea. While I would think something like this would never pass, we'll keep any eye on how Merkel and friends proceed with this idea. We hope it is soundly rejected.
Source: Washington Times