Google News Returning To Spain, As Awful 'Inalienable' Snippets Tax Is Replaced With Marginally Less Awful EU Copyright Directive

from the what's-the-point? dept

Back in 2014, Spain brought in a Google tax. It was even worse than Germany’s, which was so unworkable that it was never applied fully. Spain’s law was worse because it created a right for publishers to be paid by “news aggregators” that was “inalienable”. That is, publishers could not waive that right — they had to charge. That negated the point of Creative Commons licenses, which are designed to allow people to use material without paying. Subsequent research showed that Spain’s snippet tax was a disaster for publishers, especially the smaller ones.

Unsurprisingly, in response Google went for the nuclear option, and shut down Google News in Spain at the end of 2014. Seven years later — a lifetime on the Internet — Google News is returning to Spain:

In 2014, we closed Google News in Spain due to local legislation. Today, we’re announcing that Google News will soon be available once again in Spain. We made this decision as a result of a new Royal Decree implementing the European Copyright Directive, introduced today by the Spanish government.

Google News is coming back because the EU’s Copyright Directive has now been implemented by national legislation in Spain, superseding the older snippet tax. Crucially, the inalienable right to charge for snippets has gone:

the new copyright law allows Spanish media outlets — big and small — to make their own decisions about how their content can be discovered and how they want to make money with that content. Over the coming months, we will be working with publishers to reach agreements which cover their rights under the new law.

As Techdirt has emphasized for years, the relevant section of the EU Copyright Directive, originally called Article 11, but now renumbered as Article 15, is dreadful, because it gives publishers the ability to demand payment from Google and others for sending them traffic. But at least under the EU law that is optional, not compulsory. Google says it has no problem with paying money to publishers in a variety of ways:

we will work towards bringing Google News Showcase to Spain, a licensing program and new product experience which pays publishers to curate content for story panels across Google News and Discover.

That’s a reminder that whatever form the ridiculous snippet tax takes, for Google it’s just a tiny bump in the road. At most, it requires the company to spend a little small change it found down the back of the sofa.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

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Comments on “Google News Returning To Spain, As Awful 'Inalienable' Snippets Tax Is Replaced With Marginally Less Awful EU Copyright Directive”

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4 Comments
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PaulT (profile) says:

"the new copyright law allows Spanish media outlets — big and small — to make their own decisions about how their content can be discovered and how they want to make money with that content"

It’s worth stressing in relation to this – the rules that caused Google News to block Spain were implemented at the behest of the largest outlets, and when they did that it was the smaller sites that suffered the most financially.

Meanwhile, there has always been at least one very easy way for them to do this – but for some reason those larger publishers decided they wanted to have Google pay them for the free traffic that was being sent their way rather than use robots.txt to stop them being indexed in the first place. Whatever the other arguments, if they refuse to use the basic tool that predates Google itself that would make the entire issue moot, they lose standing.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Charge vs accept?

Spain wasn’t the first nor last with such a law.

One thing I never understood from the various free groups was why they didn’t use a loophole.
Requiring to charge (requiring to require) is very different from requiring to accept payment.

You send the payments to a blatant black hole never to be collected. Countries have different rules for processing but generally a non collected payment will be returned—2 weeks to 90 days. Eventually the bank’s return the uncollected money.

Or refund? Sure it’s more work but you could always send money back.

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