Google is closing Google News in Spain and removing Spanish media outlets from the service following a row with the country’s government over new legislation aimed at protecting local publishers that requires the search company to pay for using their content.
The tech giant announced late on Wednesday that Google News would close in Spain on 16 December. A spokeswoman said she was “incredibly sad” to announce the company was shutting the service.
The Spanish government passed a new copyright law in October that imposes fees for online content aggregators such as Google News in an effort to protect the country’s print media industry. The law comes into effect in January.
Known popularly as the “Google Tax”, the law requires services that post links and excerpts of news articles to pay a fee to the Association of Editors of Spanish Dailies. It will also affect other news aggregators including Yahoo News. Authorities will have the power to fine websites up to €600,000 ($748,000) for linking to pirated content.
“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,” Richard Gingras, head of Google News, wrote in a blogpost.
He said Google was driving more than 10bn clicks to publisher websites every month and its Adsense product, which delivers ads to websites, paid out over $9bn to publishers last year, up from $7bn the year before. Google news is currently available in 70 international editions, covering 35 languages.
The Spanish law is one of a series of spats Google is now facing in Europe. European publishers including Axel Springer have accused the company of abusing its dominance in search and are pressing for action from the European parliament.
Germany passed a similar law to Spain’s and Google removed newspapers from Google News in response but in October publishers reached an agreement with the company after traffic to their websites plummeted.
“For centuries publishers were limited in how widely they could distribute the printed page,” wrote Gingras. “The internet changed all that - creating tremendous opportunities but also real challenges for publishers as competition both for readers’ attention and for advertising euros increased.
“We’re committed to helping the news industry meet that challenge and look forward to continuing to work with our thousands of partners globally, as well as in Spain, to help them increase their online readership and revenues.”
This article was written by Dominic Rushe in New York, for theguardian.com on Thursday 11th December 2014 01.24 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010