(credit: Parti socialiste)

The European Commission's new "modern, more European" copyright framework, unveiled today, has ruled out a tax on hyperlinks. But it could still lead to the introduction of a Europe-wide ancillary copyright that would require people to pay a licensing fee for the use of short snippets online. This confirms earlier reports that the EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Günther Oettinger, was "open" to the idea of imposing a "Google tax" on the use of snippets.

On the issue of ancillary copyright, also known as a Google tax, the document detailing the European Commission's plans contains the following comment: "the situation raises questions about whether the current set of rights recognised in EU law is sufficient and well-designed. For news aggregators, in particular, solutions have been attempted in certain Member States, but they carry the risk of more fragmentation in the digital single market."

The "solutions" refer to attempts by Germany and Spain to require search engines—particularly Google—to pay publishers for using snippets from their publications in search results. As Ars reported in July, these have been unmitigated failures, and it's troubling to see the European Commission countenance the idea of extending a Google tax to the whole of the EU on the pretext of addressing "fragmentation" in the digital single market.

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