It's been an interesting saga for Google News in Spain over the past couple weeks. Google announced it would shut down Google News on December 16 as the result of a Spanish law that requires such services to pay publishers for use of snippets of text.
Deeming this an unsustainable model, Google decided to just pull the plug on the service rather than pay up. Ironically, before the law took effect and Google News was terminated, the publishers who lobbied for such a law in the first place begged the government to intervene, and stop Google from shutting the service down.
On Tuesday, the day came for Google News to go away, and go away it did. Sort of. The Spanish version of the Google News front page was replaced by a message about it being shut down. However, Google continued to show news results in regular Google searches in Spain, including those from Spanish publishers. You could also click over to see more Google News results in Spanish for whatever your search was. It was as if all that went away was the actual Google News homepage.
Still, publishers saw a significant drop in traffic, according to one report.
We expected Google to pull the plug on the news results form regular searches as well, but it appears that's not going to be the case until further notice. Search Engine Land is reporting that Google intends to leave these be. Apparently they don't see the law as applicable to this portion of its service, which is interesting because it seems likely that most people probably get to these publishers' sites this way anyway. It almost makes you wonder what the point of the law even is, especially considering that publishers don't even want Google News to go away.
Search Engine Land's Greg Sterling writes:
We learned yesterday from Google, however, that in the main search results the company intends to continue showing its “in the news” box...The “en las noticias” box on the SERP will remain according to Google. Is this still “Google News” or merely the highlighting of news stories relevant to a topical query? Google would probably argue the latter. However we may start to see a debate about whether the new Spanish “anti-piracy” law would apply to these results as well. I suspect the algorithm that powered Google News is still generating results for this box.
Google did recently start including other types of results in its "In the News" boxes here in the U.S., such as reddit threads. These were separate from Google News, though the boxes also include content that appears on Google News. What it's doing in Spain could be something similar. What the difference really is, in terms of legalities, seems unclear at this point.
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