© The Financial Times Ltd 2015 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
April 12, 2009 7:46 pm
One of Europe’s largest newspaper publishers has lent its voice to the call for internet news aggregators such as Google to pay for using copyright material.
Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of Axel Springer, told the Financial Times he believed it was time for new copyright laws in Europe to prevent all of the value of content being extracted by the aggregators, who make money by displaying search advertising around news material.
Axel Springer publishes Bild, by far Germany’s highest-selling paper and the highest-circulation tabloid in Europe with daily sales of more than 3m.
Mr Döpfner was asked if he could see a way round a conflict of interest for newspapers, which want Google and other search engines to bring readers to their websites, but not exploit the content for free.
“I can only speak for Germany, because I don’t know the situation in Great Britain well enough, but I think that we would need a copyright law that is protecting the content aggregation of publishers – that is the first step,” Mr Döpfner said in an interview at his Berlin headquarters. “What else can be done? I think that is something that the publishers, their representative organisations and the politicians should debate; I don’t want to interfere here with a single proposal.”
Asked if he wanted to see a position where Google was contributing to Axel Springer’s costs if it was going to use its content, he said: “Right, yes.”
Axel Springer is the latest group to call for a change in the relationship with internet companies. On April 6, the Associated Press, the US conglomerate of news sources, said it would take “all actions necessary” to pursue websites that use its members’ content without paying. The aggregators say they promote material and bring traffic to websites.
Axel Springer, which is controlled by the family of its eponymous founder, has seen profit growth in the past year on the basis of an aggressive programme of expansion into the digital world – a policy Mr Döpfner said he would continue with further acquisitions in the months to come.
He said he saw no particularly large targets, but indicated that he would be looking at companies with strong digital potential, at marketing and advertising businesses and at what he called “marketplaces” – online-only concerns that sold directly to the public.
Mr Döpfner said he was proud of the discipline in M&A activity he had followed since becoming chief executive in January 2002, exemplified by the refusal to match the £665m ($975m) the Barclay brothers paid for the Telegraph group in 2004.
He said he would consider a deal similar to that proposed for the Telegraph but added that “we would only do it if we see real potential to digitise it”.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.
Sign up for email briefings to stay up to date on topics you are interested in