With many news publishers trying to get money out of Google for linking it to their content from Google News, Google has been playing hardball. When German publishers demanded that they get paid for the use of their thumbnails and snippets within Google News, Google simply linked to just the titles, and it only took a few weeks before those publishers were asking to be re-included with the snippets and thumbnails due to the loss of 80% of their traffic and revenue.
So when Spain passed a new law, nicknamed the “Google Tax” requiring Spanish publishers charge services like Google News in order to have their content displayed, many were interested to see how Google would react… and now we know. Google not only plans to remove all Spanish publishers from Google News, but they are also closing down Google News in Spain too.
But sadly, as a result of a new Spanish law, we’ll shortly have to close Google News in Spain. Let me explain why. This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable. So it’s with real sadness that on 16 December (before the new law comes into effect in January) we’ll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain.
It is unclear what can happen if specific publishers in Spain still want to have the content included without violating the law. As we saw in the German case, it’s a significant enough traffic loss that those publishers will likely discover a loss of a very significant amount of advertising revenue that is generated by traffic coming from Google News.
One of Google’s arguments is that they do not display ads on Google News, therefore it makes no revenue directly to pay publishers. This is one of the arguments Google uses about why they cannot pay publishers. A lot of users would start to question whether paid advertising could possibly influence the content displayed within Google News, if Google were to ever included it. And of course if they did decide to pay the Spanish publishers, you can bet publishers from other countries would want to start passing the same law.
There’s also concerned that this is basically censoring news in Spain because so many people use Google News to find new stories either in their town or country, and it does make these new stories much harder for those in Spain to find, particularly if it’s breaking news.
There is a workaround where Spanish publishers who have content addition outside of Spain, such as other Spanish-speaking countries, that their content will still be able to be shown for those using Google News outside of Spain.
What is interesting is that Google is making the change on December 16, 2014, even though the new law does not come into effect until January 1st. There is a possibility that Google wanted publishers to see the impact of the loss of traffic would have on their business models before the law becomes official. It is unclear whether publishers who want to be back in Google News will have any recourse. But with Google News officially dead in Spain, even being let back into Google News will not generate or local traffic for them.
With the change going into effect in less than a week, and likely won’t be long before we start hearing about the impact this law has on publishers in Spain.
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