The AEDE, Spain’s Association of Newspaper Editors and the group that pushed legislators to pass the so-called “Google Tax”, has claimed that the closure of Google News in Spain has only resulted in the loss of 12% of traffic.
AEDE claims that the largest online news publishers in Spain, including El Pais and El Mundo only lost a mere 2% of traffic while smaller news sites lost anywhere from 5 to 12% of online traffic. Reporting only a maximum of only 12% loss is in sharp contrast to the 80% loss of traffic publishers in Germany saw.
How accurate this data actually is remains in question. Since it was AEDE’s push for the so-called Google tax law, and not by unanimous agreement of their members, it’s in their best interest to show that Google’s closure really didn’t impact traffic at all, particularly because some publishers were pretty upset with AEDE’s handling of the situation.
We know that when Google News in Germany removed snippets and thumbnails from German publishers – but still linked with the title – they lost 80% of their Google News traffic. In fact, after three weeks, publishers were asking Google to return their snippets and thumbnails to Google News. Google did so, because those publishers agreed they would not seek monetary compensation for the use of both snippets and thumbnails.
So the AEDE claiming a loss of only 2% for the large sites and up to 12% for the smaller sites doesn’t quite match.
AEDE’s participation in seeing the law passed was pretty controversial in Spain. Individual publishers were not able to broker an individual deal with Google to see their sites remaining Google News, and AEDE, aware of what happened in Germany, sought wording that would prohibit publishers of news sites in Spain from doing the same. The AUI (La Asociación de Usuarios de Internet) recommended all news aggregators be closed, especially since the tax could be applied retroactively to January 1, 2015.
The result was that Google decided to close Google News in Spain and removed all Spanish news publishers from other editions of Google News in December 2014 . They cited the fact that because Google News does not run any ads, but they were not making any money on the service to make it profitable to pay the AEDE. The AEDE would collect revenue for all publishers and then distribute it.
After Google News closed, publishers in Spain want to this Spanish government to force Google keep it open – and of course, pay them for linking to their news sources.
AEDE’s stance is that they still have the power to push news aggregators to pay for linking to news sources in Spain, and they are also pressuring lawmakers to fast-track it. However, legislators seem to be unconcerned about pushing it through quickly, particularly considering the implications of the fees being in limbo.
However, although the provision is retroactive, cabinet members such as education and culture minister Jose Ignacio Wert and industry minister Jose Manuel Soria have hinted that the government is in no hurry to push through the legislation. In his last intervention on the subject back in December, Wert said the government was still open to negotiations and that no decision had been taken with regard to the amount aggregators would have to pay publishers. “The question is still subject to regulatory development, which will mark how negotiations proceed between aggregators and the intellectual property rights holders,” he said at the time.
With the government not wanting to push this through quickly, it leaves aggregators who might have been willing to pay the so-called Google Tax in limbo, as no fees for this have yet been set. And with the fees being restroactive to January 1, 2015, everyone seems unwilling to take it on, not knowing if they will be charged a small amount or something more substantial.
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