Google News Shut Down in Spain
December 12, 2014
Google has taken the drastic decision to shut down Google News in Spain following the passing of a recent law in Spain that would have forced the search engine giant to pay Spanish publishers a licensing fee should the publisher’s content appear in the search engine. This would go so far as to include headlines, making it nearly impossible for Google to avoid having to make payments for content that would otherwise be freely available to users.
The move comes after the company has suffered a number of issues in Europe, including the “right to be forgotten” laws and recent issues involving the European Commission. This latest setback comes on the back of a number of Spanish publishers attempting to use anti-piracy laws in an effort to force the company to pay them for simply indexing their content.
The law comes into effect on January 1st 2015, with Google commenting: “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.”
Similar attempts have been made in Germany, where publishers had similarly attempted to extract licensing revenue from the company, despite the fact that indexed search results often led to users landing on their websites. To resolve that the search giant had asked publishers to sign liability waivers to their news snippets could appear in results. However it seems that the Spanish case is more extreme, forcing the hasty move from the company.
The move removes all Spanish news content from every Google service in addition to removing the Google News service from the Spanish version of the search engine. It is likely the Spanish publishers will call the move retaliation for the law, however on the opposite side of the spectrum Google will claim that they make no money from simply indexing results for their users. Instead the search engine will claim that it sends traffic to the publisher websites, making their search engine a valuable tool during the increasing move towards digital publishing.
The search giant continues to experience a myriad of issues in Europe and you have to wonder how similar laws may affect the services offered by Google over the coming years. While nothing similar is happening in the UK at the moment it is certainly worth keeping an eye on this ever-developing situation to determine whether or not UK search strategies will need to be adjusted.