Last week, Google closed its operations in Spain, in response to the new Copyright Law which has made it mandatory for Google, Yahoo and other news aggregators to pay licensing fee to all news publishers for using their stories or snippets in Google News. The regulation, expected to come into effect in 2015, will deal with websites that share pirated content. As per the law, Spanish Government will have the authority to penalize websites up to US$ 750,000 for directing links to the pirated content.
Media companies from Anti Google Lobbying Group, AEDE (Association of Editors of Spanish Dailies) which pushed the new law, are now asking the Spanish Government to prevent Google from closing its news service. Today, Google News service is offered in more than 35 languages and covers around 70 international editions. Google news had been directing a great deal of traffic to these media companies and a lot of them will have to turn to paid Google AdWords to make up for losses caused from their absence in Google News. On the other hand, for a tech giant like Google, Spain is a pretty small market.
Google News has been a huge success in US, but in Europe, it keeps running into troubled waters. In France, in February, 2013, Google had to set up a US$ 75M fund to support novelty in digital publishing. In lieu of it, French publishers would not charge Google for using snippets in Google News. Last year, Germany also passed the “Google Tax” law, granting one-year exclusive rights to publishers, to profit from their content. However, the regulation allowed publishers to opt in to Google’s index, and prevent Google from paying licensing fee. New Spanish Law, on the other hand, forbids news publishers from licensing their content for free, even if they want to do it themselves.