Google has announced its plans to discontinue the Spanish edition of Google News in Spain following the passing of a new legislation in the European country. The new legislation issued on November 5, 2014 states that all news aggregators using content from local publishers in Spain would have to cough up a license fee to the original publisher of the article starting next year. Strange as it may sound, the payment of fees is applicable even if the content owner does not wish to be paid!
Google has in a detailed blog post on its Google Europe blog explained that it has no other option but to remove all Spanish publishers from its list and disable the service for Spain. The new law takes effect starting January 2015 – but Google expects to complete the removal process by December 16 – just five days from now.
Richard Gingras of Google, who heads the Google News department writes:
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.
The new legislation passed in Spain is the latest fallout of a long-standing dispute between European publishers and Google. In the past, disputes between Google News and publishers have resulted in several lawsuits and content licensing arrangements. In the most recent example, German news giant Axel Springer decided not to pursue its dispute with Google News further after they figured that removal of their content from Google News would result in a massive drop in page views. Germany had also passed a similar law – but slightly more relaxed one wherein publishers could choose not to charge Google.
Back in 2012, a similar case in Belgium resulted a ruling that asked Google to pay up for displaying content from Belgian publishers on the Belgian edition of Google News. Google later made an arrangement with several Belgian publishers in a way that both parties would benefit from the displaying of content on Google News.
There is no denying the fact that over time, several publishers have become dependent on Google News for a good share of their page views. In case of Spain though, the latest move by the government would only affect smaller publishers adversely as they stand to lose a huge chunk of their revenue owing to a huge drop in page views.