Google cans Spanish Google News after new law means it has to pay publishers

After revisions to Spain's intellectual property law, Google has taken its ball and gone home.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Google is to shutter Google News in Spain in response to a new law introduced in the country.

Google announced the move on Wednesday, saying that a recent amendment to intellectual property legislation, introduced in November, means it will have to close the Spanish version of the news service in Spain in the next few weeks.

Under the new law, publishers that would typically feature in Google News can charge the service for showing headlines or small sections of articles, which makes the service "unsustainable", according to Google.

"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," Richard Gingras, head of Google News, wrote on the company's European blog .

Those who don't pay for the reuse of content from publishers could face a fine of up to €600,000.

According to the Spanish government , the law was necessary to make sure the country's cultural and creative industries don't suffer as a result of the growth of digital technologies and networks.

Spain is not the first country to propose a so-called 'link tax' on Google: Germany brought in similar legislation, known as the Leistungsschutzrecht, in 2013.

Under the law, reusing snippets was allowed, but featuring more substantial parts of articles would be chargeable. Google responded by making Google News opt-in only, so publishers had to request their sites be featured on the service. Initially, publishers in the country banded together to take Google to court, saying that the law could be interpreted to mean that even snippets were chargeable. Google subsequently stopped linking to those publications , and the publishers withdrew their legal challenge in October.

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