Google is shutting down Google News in Spain. The reason, according to a company blog post, is a strict new Spanish copyright law, which makes it possible for any news publisher to extract a fee from Google should it post even a small excerpt of their content. This, of course, is how Google News operates.
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.
Aggregation is Google News’s bread and butter. For publishers—including but not limited to Fast Company—a Google News hit can be a huge boon for traffic, especially if your story appears on the “Top Stories” section.
And as SearchEngineLand’s Greg Sterling notes, the Spanish law was formed after “a similar faulted attempt in Germany to extract licensing revenues from Google.” Whereas in Germany, publishers can sign a liability waiver to have their content clipped for Google News, Spain’s legislation is even more aggressive: It’s nearly impossible for individual bloggers, newspapers, and more who might disagree with the law to waive their licensing rights and have their links appear in the service.
The Spanish law has global ramifications too. Spanish newspapers will no longer appear in other international editions of Google News, which might not mean that much to the non-Spanish-speaking world, but it could leave major holes in the aggregator’s coverage in, say, Latin America and South America.
It may speak to the increasingly fraught relationship between Google and the European Union, which recently passed a data protection law that makes it possible for users to request to have links removed from search results. The dismantling of Google News in Spain is leading some experts to speculate that Google’s “patience” with EU regulators is wearing thin.