Jeff Jarvis auf der Picnic 10 (Bild: PICNIC Cross Media Week)

Jeff Jarvis zum Leistungsschutzrecht: “Die Verleger erpressen Google”

Jeff Jarvis auf der Picnic 10 (Bild: PICNIC Cross Media Week)

Wir haben in dieser Woche mit US-Journalistikprofessor Jeff Jarvis (zu seinem Blog) über das geplante deutsche Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverlage gesprochen. Zu höre in unserem Medienmagazin bei DRadio Wissen und das Transkript gibt es hier:

Herr Pähler: Jeff, what happens with the pulse when you read or hear the word Leistungsschutzrecht?

Jeff: Oh, my pulse. It goes up quite a bit. I am on the podcast called “This week in Google”, and I got so head up about it than when I said Leistungsschutzrecht, someone took that and made it into a reggae song.

Daniel Fiene: So I think there is a certain reason we invited you to the show, because we want to hear a fresh perspective. Since every argument seems to be exchanged months ago, and since you are watching closely the German media scene, is the Leistungsschutzrecht approach we can see in other countries too, or is it just German idea or maybe a stupid German idea?

Jeff: I think it’s a stupid German idea, yes. [laughs] And I’m afraid that we are seeing it spread. We’re seeing mention of this in France. I have actually started to hear talk of this in the US. I think the Leistungsschutzrecht is dangerous to the web, to the link itself. It’s an indication of an industry that doesn’t have any ideas of how to fix itself. The German newspaper industry I think fought for quite a while that it was immune from the disruption going on in the US. Well, certainly with the Frankfurter Rundschau and the FT Deutschland are both in trouble.

We’re seeing that’s different now, and they’re desperate. If you can run a business, you run it. If you can’t, you go hide behind the skirts of government, because of what’s happening now with the newspaper industry and the magazine industry in Germany.

Daniel Fiene: Google started a campaign this week. There were some emotional reactions. The publishers called it “evil propaganda,” and that Google misused its market power. Is it true?

Jeff: [laughs] As if the publishers have not been using their market power to push this idea of the LSR through and through. You know, I find this odd thing that happens, especially in Germany. Mind you, making it very clear here that I love Germany, I love coming there, I respect the media there and learn a great deal from it.

Nonetheless, I see this attitude. We saw it in an op-ed in Der Spiegel only yesterday, that Google is somehow kind of evil. I saw it again today in the FAZ, talk about Silicon Valley capitalism, as if those are dangerous or bad words. I don’t understand that.

Daniel Fiene: Yeah, it’s funny that Google bought full-sized ads in today’s newspapers. That was, I think, a plan of the publishers to get Google to buy their print ads, right?

Jeff: [laughs] Yeah, and I think it’s also interesting that I have heard these complaints from Germans that, if you’re against the Leistungsschutzrecht, you’re a friend of Google, and being a friend of Google is a bad thing.

Well, I’m a Google fanboy, and I have no problem saying that. I admire what they’ve done, and I don’t really understand the negativity here. What’s happening is that Google is sending to these publishers, audience. It’s up to the publishers, then, to create a valued relationship with them. If they don’t, it’s the publisher’s fault.

If the publishers don’t want to be pointed to from Google, they can cut themselves out at any second, so what this really is, is blackmail to Google, and trying to put them in the position of saying, “Well, this isn’t fair. You’re making money and we’re not. You should give us some of your money.” Well, they are making more money because they are doing a better deal for advertisers, period.

Herr Pähler: But let’s look at the Google campaign for a moment. I’m not sure, is Google really driven by defending the free web or just by the financial interests of their owners?

Jeff: What’s wrong with being driven by both? The truth of Google’s business model is very, very simple: the more people that use the Internet, the more Google makes because the more people use Google. That’s because Google is just so darn good.

The market penetration for Google in Germany far exceeds that in the US. So the people of Germany are using Google like mad. It’s media and government who are attacking Google.

Daniel Fiene: Jeff, if the Leistungsschutzrecht passes finally the Bundestag, let’s ask a Jarvis-like question: not what would Google do, let’s ask what will Google do, ban all publishers in Germany?

Jeff: I don’t know. I think that Google might possibly say, “If you want us to pay you, we won’t pay you. And you should cut yourself off. And if you don’t cut yourself off and you threaten to sue us, fine, we’ll cut you off.”

And then, where is Google? Well, there have been studies in Google about how much of the search traffic actually goes to results from major publishers in Germany, and it’s actually a very small percentage.

So if every publisher tomorrow left Google, it would be a shame for German citizens, it would be a shame for the publishers, but Google would keep going on making just as much as it’s making today.

Herr Pähler: But behind the Leistungsschutzrecht approach is a serious problem. The publishers can’t find inset data journalism. So, what should publishers do?

Jeff: Well, that’s a whole different question. I think the publishers are trying to maintain their old business models and trying to say, “Well, Google is making money and we are not.” That’s not Google’s fault. That’s their fault.

The truth is that the publisher’s business is drastically and profoundly disrupted by the Internet. And trying to hold onto your old business models through help from legislation in the Bundestag is not going to get you anywhere. It’s not sustainable. You have to create new business models that are based first on a new efficiency, do what you do best, link to the rest, specialize and collaborate, and second on trying to find new services for advertisers and new ways to make money.

But arguing that you have some God given right to maintain the business that you used to have is absurd. It’s absurd for banks, it’s absurd for car companies, it’s absurd for publishers.

Daniel Fiene: You described Gutenberg as our first startup guy in media. Have the Germans maybe lost their attitude around innovation when we look at the recent attitude of the Germans to the Internet? Let’s remember the Verpixelungsrecht for Google, Street View, for example, and the Leistungsschutzrecht, of course.

Jeff: I do think that there is an issue that Germany has to honestly examine here. I wrote a more recent book called “Public Parts” auf English, auf Deutsch it’s “Mehrtransparenz-Wagen”

Daniel Fiene: [laughs]

Jeff: It’s a joke that I don’t think we get…

Daniel Fiene: This is funny! [laughs] But please go on.

Jeff: And in that I examined the idea of publicness, because I think the Internet is a great tool of publicness. And those who try to shut it down, whether that’s Egypt, the LSR, or whether that’s today in the UK, an effort to regulate the press, I think it affects society.

Part of this is that there is an opportunity to operate in public. That means in the US that if you are an entrepreneur you fail in public. You expose yourself in public. When I say this to my good German friends, many of them say, “Oh, no, no, no. We don’t do that. Culturally, we don’t do that.”

So I think there’s question to ask as to whether when it comes to technology, innovation, disruption, is the German culture willing to operate in public, failure and all? Is it willing to have this kind of disruption of business models, and unions, and labor, and all those kinds of things?

These are critical questions not about Google, but I think the opportunity for Germany to continue to have a role in entrepreneurship (…)

Daniel Fiene: What do you think? What should we Germans change in the whole discussion?

Jeff: I think you’ve got to put pressure on media companies to find the new business models. And they are. If you look at Axel Springer, well more than 30% of their revenue now is digital. Dr. Burda said at a DLD conference where I was I think three years ago that these print dollars are being replaced by “damned pennies”, damn visual pennies. Well, yes.

A friend of mine in the US says you have no choice, then, to stack up the pennies. You have to find new models and new business models to do this. I work in the center of entrepreneurial journalism. I’m trying to find new business models here. That’s the solution to this.

I also say go with the flow. There’s a company in the US called that would let any article be embeddable with ads, with links like a YouTube video. So imagine suddenly that if, when articles are passed around from FAZ, or Süddeutsche, or any of those publications you could make money on it. Then you’d said, “Please! Take my articles! Thank you!” Well, let’s come up with business models like that.

Daniel Fiene: But do you think big media houses like the publishers…do they select this in the future, or do we see more models like, let’s say, you can say the US tech scene, like The Verge, that are more small teams who have their own content? What do you think, that we see more stuff like that?

Jeff: I think that’s a great question. I think we will definitely see many more smaller entities, because you don’t own a monopoly anymore. You are not the only person in town who owns the press. No one is going to invest in these huge kind of entities. It’s so inexpensive to start things like The Verge. Your podcast can be done through Skype and it doesn’t need quite the expense that it used to have.

So yeah, I think we’ll find many more new, smaller entities. But here’s the key — can they work together in networks that are mutually beneficial? And that’s really what Google and the Leistungsschutzrecht is about. If Google can be told not to link, can you be told not to link? Can a blogger be told not to link? Where is that line? I think that’s very, very dangerous. And what the publisher should be doing is finding ways to benefit from people and aggregators linking to them.

Herr Pähler: Jeff, to be honest, do you really expect that Germany is going to be an island in the Internet with Leistungsschutzrecht? How possible is this?

Jeff: I don’t think so. But I think that there is a risk. I think that there’s a risk that technology companies and media companies will say, “Gee, where should we put our money next? Where should we invest?”

Right now I would be worried about investing in Germany, frankly.

Daniel Fiene: So we are watching this very closely. Thank you for your input and your time tonight here on our show.

Jeff: Vielen Dank, and also, thank you very much for speaking in English.

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