THE ABOVE SCREENSHOT, via SearchEngineLand, is what Google will look like if the EU Copyright Directive comes into law in its current form, according to, uh, Google.
As you can see, it's not hugely helpful. You search for a term and then get a bunch of blank boxes to choose from. It's like Deal or No Deal, only even less fun.
That's because of Article 11 of the EU's Copyright Directive, which would require search engines and news aggregators to pay non-waivable licensing fees when content is used on its site. That applies to pictures and texts which means no headline, no image and no explanation of what you're clicking on.
SearchEngineLand was told in an email that the test was made to "understand what the impact of the proposed EU Copyright Directive would be to our users and publisher partners."
Obviously, it's been exaggerated for effect: it's hard to believe Google would waste that much space on blank content if forced to change its ways, but it's a neat way of getting its point across anyway. The timing is also quite convenient, as it was released three days ahead of a European Council vote on the Copyright Directive.
Of course, Google could just go ahead and pay publishers - although that's not the way super-rich companies tend to stay rich. And Google has form of just pulling its News services from regions that try to force its hand, as it did in Spain. That resulted in newspapers in the country actually losing money - the very thing the law was enacted to prevent happening.
Article 11 isn't the only part of the proposed legislation that has raised eyebrows either. Article 13 has been labelled an attack on memes, as it would require YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter and the like to proactively monitor uploads on the hunt for copyright infringement.
Still, we're a long way from that. The final vote on the Copyright Directive won't come until March, and even if it passes then, it won't enter into law until 2021. And Britain might even have ended its EU withdrawal transition period by then, so you may still have memes to cheer you up even if the NHS unbelievably doesn't get an extra £350 million per week. µ
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