Newly appointed digital commissioner for the European Commission (EC), Günther Oettinger, has spoken of his desire to restrain Google's power in Europe.
Oettinger, who replaced Neelie Kroes at the EC, told German newspaper Handelsblatt that he wants the EC to introduce a copyright law and tax on intellectual property that would directly target Google.
"If Google takes intellectual property from the EU and works with it, the EU can protect this property and can demand a charge for it," he said.
Oettinger's stance follows pressure put on Google by the EC to make search concessions in order to reduce complaints that it abuses its market position in Europe.
Google has accepted several demands for search concessions pushed on it by the EC, but such cooperation has failed to win over Oettinger, who called for "uniform rules" when it comes to addressing intellectual property rights around search engines.
Widespread anti-Google sentiment exists in Europe as many companies view Google's dominance in the search engine market and its expansion into other fields, such as driverless cars and fibre internet, as a threat to their own positions in the continent.
Oettinger appears to have inherited his home country's dim stance on Google, where it is believed that search engines monetise the intellectual property of content belonging to other companies, such as news websites.
In 2013, Germany introduced a law that obliges search engines to pay for republishing content, although the legislation allows snippets and very short excerpts to be published, giving Google some manoeuvring room for its Google News service to parse stories.
There is no "fair use" policy in Germany such as the ones enjoyed by the UK and US.
With the parameters of the law open to interpretation, Google has come under fire from publishers wanting money for their content, and faced an antitrust case accusing the firm of exploiting its market leading position in relation to parameters set out in the legislation.
Germany's competition authority ruled in Google's favour, however, saying that the company was not obliged to pay publishers for linking back to their content, as only headlines were displayed in the search engine.
The decision of the competition authority would end up being reversed under Oettinger's proposed copyright law, and Google would come under more flak from publishers looking to bolster their revenue.
V3 contacted Google for comment but the company had not replied at the time of publication.
Copyright in Europe is a hotly contested topic, and the EC has called for reform to ensure a thriving internet economy. Copyright woes have even extended to addressing whether a photographer has ownership over a monkey ‘selfie'.
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