Spain reportedly passed a law last week that requires sites linking to articles published by those in the country’s newspaper association with snippets – as Google and other search engines do – to pay a tax. This is being referred to in the press as a “Google tax”.
It’s a new development in an otherwise old story. Publishers (especially throughout Europe) don’t like not getting paid by Google, which links to their sites. Many smaller publications would love to simply have visibility in Google News, as well as the traffic that it can drive, but time and time again, we see publishers raising a stink over it. It’s been going on for years. Sometimes the governments get involved, as we’re seeing now with Spain.
The law has passed in one house, and is expected to in the other.
Google got around a similar law in Germany by making Google News opt in. The thinking is that Spain’s version is taking what happened in that country into account, and making things more difficult for the search engine. Julia Alonso has an in-depth post about the law on Medium, and writes:
The Spanish law proposal declares that editors cannot refuse the use of “non-significant fragments of their articles” by third parties. However, it creates a levy on such use to compensate editors and declares it an inalienable right (derecho irrenunciable).
The introduction of the inalienable right was done to avoid what happened in Germany. If you are a digital editor that publishes with a copyleft license, like myself, and you minimally understand how the internet actually works, you cannot decide to not charge Google News. It is compulsory. More than a right it is an obligation. Therefore, Google cannot exclude sites requiring payment from Google News. It would still need to pay for those it includes, even if they do not want to be compensated.
Some expect Google to just pull Google News out of Spain if all of this comes to fruition, which is looking like a distinct possibility.
Image via Google