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Proposed legislation in Germany would require Google and other search engines to pay for content it borrows from website owners and publishes in its search results pages. I agree with Cynthia Boris’s analysis on the topic, but what about her conclusion?

Would Google really pull out of Germany?

I doubt it. I think what is more likely is that Google would figure out a way to include search results without taking snippets from the web pages it indexes. That would be the first adjustment the search engine would make, although it would likely not index photos and videos in Germany.

Remember when Google took its snippets from information provided by the Open Directory Project? It still does this at times. I think, if forced to, it would move to a similar policy in Germany and if that information wasn’t available there might not be a snippet at all. Or, the search engine might require webmasters supply their own snippet if they want a listing in the SERP.

Granted, that all might be a nightmare for the search engine to manage, but if you consider the lost revenue by simply pulling out, then it would likely be worth it in the long run.

Fair usage in the digital age is a murky game at best. We all want to protect content owners and producers, but what is the best way to do that? I can assure you that it isn’t by placing unreasonable restrictions on the search engines. After all, a high search engine ranking is compensation, isn’t it? What about traffic? If Google sends you visitors, couldn’t that be considered fair compensation for your 150 characters of content or reproduction of your image? I think so.

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