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Internet

Google launches campaign against intellectual property bill

Google has started a massive new political campaign protesting a bill in the German parliament proposing copyright restrictions. Publishers supporting the bill have called the campaign "nasty propaganda."

The "Defend Your Web" campaign began Tuesday, urging Google users to mobilize in an effort to stop the so-called "Google Tax."

The proposed measure, which has the support of publishers, would require search engines to pay each time they link to media content like newspaper articles or photographs.

The Federal Cabinet first launched the bill in August to prevent the unauthorized commercial use of press material online.

The bill will have its first reading in Parliament on Thursday.

Google objects

Google says in an online video that "for more than 10 years you've been able to find what you are looking for - a planned law would change that."

"Do you want that?" Google asks at the end of the video, which gives a variety of different search examples that would presumably be affected by the proposed legislation.

"An intellection property right means less information for citizens and higher costs for companies," said Stefan Tweraser, Google's Germany Manager.

Tweraser said most people in Germany have not heard of the law, but it would affect almost everyone in the country.

"Searching and finding, a basic function of the internet, would be impaired," added Tweraser.

The company also provided written information and an online petition it requested users sign. Newspaper and magazine advertisements are also planned.

Supporters respond

The publishers associations BDVZ and VDZ called Google's campaign against the bill "absurd," adding the company used its dominant position in a biased way to achieve its own goals.

The German Journalists Association (DJV) urged members of the German Parliament to draft new law on intellectual property rights.

DJV chairman Michael Konken said it should be ensured that journalistic work is not affected by the new law, and called for blackout of Google for "obvious reasons."

Konken said that quality journalism had its price, and search engine operations must accept that.

dr/hc (epd, dpa, AP)