Hamburglars attempt suicide

A group of European publishers has released its “Hamburg Declaration” which pushes, among other things, something called the Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP). ARS Technica has this to say about it:

ACAP is a metadata standard that’s a bit like robots.txt—but on illegal steroids that cause anger management issues and can precipitate bouts of violence and heart problems. The standard aims to dictate how search engines and other aggregators handle a publisher’s content by defining usage rights that third parties are supposed to respect (more on this below). But because search engines have rejected ACAP in favor of their own news metadata solutions, the publishers are asking the EU to step in and mandate it outright:

“We need search engines to recognize ACAP as a step towards acknowledging that content providers have the right to decide what happens to their content and on what terms,” said the Chairman of ACAP, Gavin O’Reilly. “The European Commission and other legislators call on our industry constantly to come up with solutions—here we have one and we call upon the regulators to back it up”.

The say when the gods really want to destroy you, they give you what you ask for.  The European publishers want to force the search engines to deal with them on terms they control, with the ultimate goal of a revenue stream from the search engines to the publishers.

If the EU enforces ACAP as law, the search engines will drop all ACAP tagged data from their results. Here is the ugly truth (at least ugly from the publisher’s standpoint), the publishers need the search engines a lot more than the search engines need the publishers. To be excluded from the top three or so search engines is essential a death sentence from an internet presence standpoint.

Now the search engines don’t want that to happen, so I expect there to be some negotiating that may result in some pennies from heaven to the publishers. But pennies rather than Euros it will be and control will stay with the search engines.

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