GlobalPost, March 16, 2012
BERLIN, Germany — The internet community is up in arms over a planned copyright law which would force search engines and news aggregators like Google News to pay traditional media firms for publishing snippets of their online content.
Media groups in Germany, such as the powerful Springer Verlag, which publishes Bild and Die Welt, and Bertelsmann, have long complained that sites such as Google News are making money off the back of their journalists’ work. They say that, as the original publishers, they should be compensated in some way.
Now the government is taking up their cause. In early March, Angela Merkel’s coalition government announced that it would draw up new legislation to compensate publishers. Continue reading
GlobalPost, Oct. 7, 2011
BERLIN, Germany — They arrived at Berlin’s imposing parliament building, mostly wearing hoodies and sneakers, carrying orange pirate flags, the symbol of their party.
As they tried to enter the city-state’s legislature the day after their historic win, a stern woman at the security desk told them, “nein,” those party symbols are strictly “verboten.”
And so began the first day of the Pirate Party’s newly changed status as legislators, after an unexpected election result that has shaken up the staid world of German politics.
The band of internet-freedom activists shocked themselves and pretty much everyone else when they won close to 9 percent in the Berlin state election on Sept. 18, allowing them to send 15 very unconventional new politicians to the regional parliament. Continue reading
CNBC Business, 1 July, 2011
With its cheap rents and hot nightlife, the German capital is a magnet for young techies. But can it create global businesses, asks Siobhán Dowling
It wasn’t hard for Juha Lindell to decide to move to the German capital last October. After all, “Berlin is the coolest city in Europe, if not the whole world,” he says. Yet that wasn’t the only thing that drew the 29-year-old Finn to the city. A tall blond in a T-shirt and sneakers, he may look like something of a hipster, but his intention wasn’t just to hang out in clubs, play in a band or make art in a loft. Instead, he is one of the thousands of young IT professionals who have thronged to the city to become part of its thriving start-up scene.
Lindell was recruited by Wooga, Europe’s leading social games company, to work as a product manager and says he jumped at the opportunity “to join a company with big ambitions”. But it’s far from unique in that respect. The city is fast becoming a major centre for gaming, e-commerce and other hi-tech firms, leading some to dub it the new Silicon Valley. In many ways, Wooga epitomises the dynamic edge and ambition that is making the city an IT hub. Two years after it was founded, it is poised to become a global player in its field, with the fourth-highest number of monthly active users on Facebook.
The fact that it enjoys this position is in many ways thanks to a series of factors that are helping to make Berlin such a paradise for start-ups: a cosmopolitan array of young, multilingual skilled workers, swathes of cheap, attractive, post-industrial office space, supportive public agencies, a good infrastructure and growing interest from foreign venture capital. Christoph Lang of Berlin Partner, the city’s business promotion agency, says that one or two tech companies are being formed every week. “It is developing into one of the most important locations for IT companies not just in Germany but in Europe.” Continue reading