Study Of Spain's 'Google Tax' On News Shows How Much Damage It Has Done

from the ancillary-copyright-is-a-bad-idea dept

As you may recall, governments across Europe, generally at the behest of traditional newspaper publishers, have been pushing for what they call an "ancillary copyright," but which is much better referred to as a "snippet tax" or a "link tax." Or, if people are being honest: a Google News tax. The idea is that any aggregator site that is linking out to other sources with little snippets telling people what's at the link, has to pay the original publication to link to them. If you think this goes against the entire concept of the internet, you're not wrong. Belgium was the first country to try it, and Google responded by removing complaining publications from Google News. In response, the publications then complained that Google News was being mean to them, even though they were the ones complaining. In Germany, a similar thing happened, whereby Google left the complaining publications in Google News, but without snippets since that was a key aspect of the law. Again, the publishers screamed "unfair" even though they were the ones who had pushed for the law in the first place.

When it came time for Spain to try to appease its misguided and angry publishers, the government sought to avoid the tactics that Google had done in the past and thus made it mandatory to pay, saying that sites themselves couldn't even opt-out of getting payments, even if they didn't want them. In response to this, Google broke out the somewhat surprising "nuclear option" and shut down Google News in Spain entirely. It seemed quite obvious that this move would create huge problems for media properties that wanted to be open and wanted people to link to them.

After the law went into effect, the Spanish Association of Publishers of Periodical Publications (AEEPP) commissioned an economic study about the impact of the new Spanish ancillary copyright law -- and found (not surprisingly) that the legal change (and the shuttering of Google News and other aggregators) was absolutely harmful to the Spanish news media and innovation in general. It also found strong evidence that, contrary to what those fighting against Google News have claimed, aggregators expand the market for the original sources, rather than shrink it by acting as a substitute. The latter is based on a "study of studies" basically, looking at all of the academic literature in terms of the impact of aggregators -- all of which shows that it increases the overall size of the market, rather than shrinks it.

However, the really telling part of the report is that this law that was passed in the name of helping news publications, ended up doing tremendous harm to many online publications -- especially smaller sites that frequently (and happily) relied on Google News and other aggregators for a significant amount of traffic. The report points out that it wasn't just Google News that shut down because of this law: a whole bunch of local Spanish aggregators shut down themselves, switched business models entirely, or similarly left the Spanish market entirely. The report notes that sites like Planeta Ludico, NiagaRank, InfoAliment and Multifriki shut down entirely, as they were scared of the economic and legal liability from the new law. The report notes the case of NiagaRank is particularly troubling as it has a wider impact on innovation in Spain:
NiagaRank: ignoring the extent, quantity and methods followed to determine whether they should pay the fee, they preferred to close down. This case is remarkable because NiagaRank was not a “traditional” aggregator, but it analysed social networks to draw up lists with the most relevant news (“active listening”, as they used to call it). However, it is an example of the legal uncertainty that the lack of definition of key aspects of the act has caused.

[....]

For example, and as already pointed out, currently there are several services focused on the aggregation of content for mobile phones, such as the mobile applications Zite and Flipboard. The amendment to the act will discourage the introduction of this sort of services in Spain, as well as the potential development of new models. A clear example of this situation is the portal NiagaRank, an innovative aggregator based on the analysis of the content published on social networks (similar to News360 or Prismatic) which, as mentioned before, also closed down as a direct result of the law amendment.
And all of this has had a tremendous negative impact on the press, rather than a positive one as those behind the law insisted.
The negative impact on the online press sector is also very clear, since a very important channel to attract readers disappears, resulting in lower revenues from advertising. In addition, the new fee is also a barrier to the expansion of small publications with little-known brands, and an entry barrier for new competitors, since they will be unable to count on these platforms to increase their readers’ base.

The evidence available so far shows that the impact on traffic has been negative and that less consolidated publishing titles, such as digital native newspapers, have been the worst affected. This is not only because the total number of publication readers has been reduced but, in the case of online readers that would be attracted anyway (that is, who would visit the publications web sites in some other way), they will surely end up visiting known publications with established brands, to the detriment of small and new publications, in line with the evidence in the literature analysed above
Of course, for the major newspaper publishers, maybe that's what they really wanted all along: less competition. But it's difficult to see how that's a legitimate public policy strategy.

And, not surprisingly, looking at multiple different ways of measuring these things, traffic to all Spanish news sites dropped after the law went into effect:
A simple traffic analysis of Spanish digital newspapers in the first three months of 2015 based on data from ComScore also suggests results in line with the aforementioned. The impact of the closing down of Google News and some other aggregators has generated a decline of visitors to the 84 major Spanish online newspapers...
The report notes that this is even more stunning given that overall internet traffic and usage in Spain has been increasing, so even the percentage drop in traffic undercounts the real impact, as it likely would have been growing.

The data, not surprisingly, shows that the impact on smaller news publishers has been the worst -- again consistent with the idea that all this law really does is lock out competition for the larger players:
A more detailed analysis, breaking down traffic depending on the newspaper size, also confirms that the effect has been uneven. Thus, for the sample of online newspapers in Spain, it appears that smaller newspapers have been the worst affected ones.
All of this should really raise serious questions about just what is the intent of the Spanish government in passing this law. It does not appear to serve any legitimate public policy. At best, it appears to have damaged small news publications, making it more difficult for them to compete against larger publications, though it has also served to damage those larger publications' traffic as well.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:34am

    Of course, for the major newspaper publishers, maybe that's what they really wanted all along: less competition...

    And, not surprisingly, looking at multiple different ways of measuring these things, traffic to all Spanish news sites dropped after the law went into effect.


    I've joked before about newspapers needing to destroy the internet if they want to preserve their business model, but I never thought it would actually happen!

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:51am

      Re:

      Except they shoot themselves in the feet in the process. So yay for no internet and no newspapers?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 2:46pm

        Re: Re:

        Shooting yourself in the foot is OK for these guys, if a little painful.

        The important question is if they can frame some aggregator for the crime.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:22am

      Re:

      They don't care. They pretend to be about 'informing the public' and benefiting us with useful information but the reality is very different. They are a for profit business that only cares about their bottom line and feeding us biased propaganda that favors them. They will improperly use their media advantage to their advantage for self preservation to criticize policies and smear politicians that don't unfairly help them. What they're doing is very dangerous to public policy and for the government to cave into them is also very bad. An open media with plenty of competition and a very wide diversity of viewpoints and information is beneficial to the public interest and a corporate controlled self centered media is not. This corporate controlled self centered media has largely contributed to the current state of IP laws for keeping the public in the dark on the matter and/or feeding us one sided propaganda for so long. It is undemocratic (for those governments that openly don't strongly support democracy) in a way that's detrimental to the public interest.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TasMot (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:44am

    Ahhhh, but isn't it great. Google isn't making any money off of those Spanish newspapers (and really who cares that they are all making A LOT less money themselves). Those Google leeches aren't going to make any money off of Spanish newspapers even if they all have to close up. Cue the nose/face joke here.

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:53am

      Re:

      That's what I thought. If it isn't proof that Google actually drives more money to the newspapers contrary to what the MAFIAA says then I don't know what is. (By MAFIAA I refer to the collective that relies on copyrights intensively which, incidentally, includes the MPAA)

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:46pm

      Re:

      ... only Google was never (directly at least) making money from Google News... it is just a useful service they provide for free... Unless you're in Spain.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:52am

    Fix for new law

    1) It is illegal to NOT link to our sites and every article. For every non-published link you will be fined $150,000.
    2) Links MUST include snippets.
    3) Tax MUST be paid on those snippets each and every time those snippets show up in search results whether or not the user clicks on them or even sees the page that the link would be on.

    There you go. Shuts down all linking services.

    As there would be NO more search engines, users would have to type URLs directly. And since mis-typing a URL is considered a felony breach of the CFAA, we can put all those pesky internet users into our lovely for-profit prison system.

    The remaining Luddites will watch only the approved 3 channels of news and entertainment, only read news from approved media sources, purchase the new records that are released every week, and go to the movies on Saturday Night.

    All better now - back to the "good old days" of a century ago...

    In their dreams.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:55am

    Be careful what you whish for...

    This is yet another of those stories where they got what they asked for... except it was not what they wanted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:05am

    "We don't care if we lose as long as someone else looses worse."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:08am

    Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

    Google has chosen to use its power to harm Spain's entire economy due to this well-intended share-the-wealth scheme, and thereby coerce the Spanish legislature. Possible because only one country is revolting against the power of a mega-national corporation. If Google succeeds in breaking Spanish resolve, it will definitely not cause Google to be "nicer" elsewhere, but only to gain more power to extract more tribute.

    This actually shows why Google should not be allowed to operate just however it chooses. But here it's blame Spain rather than the corporation that if can't use the values others create to gain money, then it'll deliberately harm them.

    As always you-know-who the corporatist is defending the corporation that pays him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:28am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      What about the companies that aren't google, that aggregate the news, and shuttered as a response to the amendment? Where are your kind words for them?

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 1:43pm

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      Google has chosen to use its power to harm Spain's entire economy

      Citation needed.

      This actually shows why Google should not be allowed to operate just however it chooses.

      So what's the problem exactly? Spain passed a law, and Google obeyed it.

      But here it's blame Spain rather than the corporation that if can't use the values others create to gain money, then it'll deliberately harm them.

      You're blaming Google for following the law? Or are you saying they should have obeyed the law in some other way that is less beneficial to Google and more beneficial to Spanish news organizations? Why?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 1:43pm

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.


      As always you-know-who the corporatist is defending the corporation that pays him.


      Missed this little gem. You're defending the Spanish newspapers why, because they pay you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      MrTroy (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:36pm

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      This actually shows why Google should not be allowed to operate just however it chooses.


      Google shouldn't be allowed to shut down its operations in a country?

      Google has chosen to use its power to harm Spain's entire economy


      If Spain's entire economy relied on Google continuing operations quite so much, perhaps they shouldn't have taunted the company into leaving the country?

      ... it will definitely not cause Google to be "nicer" elsewhere, but only to gain more power to extract more tribute.


      Extract more tribute... you mean, by sending more viewers to your website for free so you can earn more from your own advertising, notwithstanding any other mechanism you may have for monetising eyeballs? Darn them and their sneaky algorithms!

      You're right, Google needs to be stopped! No wait, they stopped here voluntarily, and that was bad. They need to be forced to continue! But they also have to give us their money, and not just because we run their ads, but because we ... want it?

      The fail is strong with this one...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 12:20am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      "Google has chosen to use its power to harm Spain's entire economy"

      ...by not providing a free service. I know you're obsessed with attacking the company for some reason, but when all you have is a criticism of what they're *not* doing, it's pretty weak. Are major studios also destroying the Spanish economy as well since your media masters have chosen not to allow Netflix to operate their service here until later this year? Is Wal Mart destroying the economy since they don't have stores here? Or, is your idiocy only reserved for Google? One day, your drooling inanity might even make internal logic, but not today it seems.

      It should also be noted that you've deliberately ignored all the smaller companies mentioned in the article that have shut down or changed their business model as a direct result of the law. Funny that, but acknowledging reality is not your strong suit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:09am

    Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

    Google has chosen to use its power to harm Spain's entire economy due to this well-intended share-the-wealth scheme, and thereby coerce the Spanish legislature. Possible because only one country is revolting against the power of a mega-national corporation. If Google succeeds in breaking Spanish resolve, it will definitely not cause Google to be "nicer" elsewhere, but only to gain more power to extract more tribute.

    This actually shows why Google should not be allowed to operate just however it chooses. But here it's blame Spain rather than the corporation that if can't use the values others create to gain money, then it'll deliberately harm them.

    As always you-know-who the corporatist is defending the corporation that pays him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:15am

      Re: out_of_the_blue is a corporatist!

      Google is choosing to do without. That's what you always wanted. "If you don't want to pay, do without!" It's nobody's job to soothe your butthurt every time you don't like the cons that come with every decision you make.

      Meanwhile the leaders of SABAM got themselves charged for corruption over demanding performance rights fees, but of course you're never going to mention those, because you're a corporatist for the RIAA's international incestuous clones.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:24am

        Re: Re: out_of_the_blue is a corporatist!

        Seriously? Come on! How many times do people have to say it?!?

        Don't feed the trolls. Just click "report" and move on!

        The only reason they keep coming in and crapping all over these articles is because we keep legitimizing it by treating their crap like serious discussion.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 11:54am

          Re: Re: Re: spot on M. Wheeler

          Click report on everyone who feeds the troll.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:08pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: spot on M. Wheeler

            It should be made clear that those 'feeding the trolls' are being reported not for disagreeing with them but for feeding them.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          tqk (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 7:25am

          Re: Re: Re: out_of_the_blue is a corporatist!

          I don't really see what the problem is. It's not hard to just hit a couple spacebars to pass it if you're not interested. I don't bother confronting them, but I don't see anything really wrong with others doing so. One of TD's mantras is meet bad speech with more speech, which is what they're doing. Sure, it gets repetitive and is a bit annoying if you're not into it, but I don't really see any problem with it.

          Just my C$0.02.

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          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 7:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: out_of_the_blue is a corporatist!

            I don't think it's a huge problem, but it does make reading the comments much more difficult. I wish it were possible to collapse entire threads -- that would remove all my issues.

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            • icon
              nasch (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 9:33am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: out_of_the_blue is a corporatist!

              I wish it were possible to collapse entire threads

              Double plus agree with that. Maybe an automatic duplicate deleter too.

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            • icon
              tqk (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 10:31am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: out_of_the_blue is a Freetard!

              I miss the "Parent" button Slashdot had (has?). I often can't find what someone else is replying to when they don't quote anything. It makes "Me too!" posts even more infuriating than they already are.

              I really ought to try the "link to this" and "view in chronology" buttons sometime and figure out what they do. Come to think of it, maybe the latter's what I'm looking for.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                nasch (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 11:59am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: out_of_the_blue is a Freetard!

                I often can't find what someone else is replying to when they don't quote anything.

                Are you using threaded mode? Not everyone uses reply to this, but most do.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  tqk (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 2:34pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: out_of_the_blue is a Freetard!

                  I often can't find what someone else is replying to when they don't quote anything.

                  Are you using threaded mode? Not everyone uses reply to this, but most do.

                  i) Yes, ii) and I've noticed that. It's little more than a trivial annoyance for me, however. Just a "wish list" sort of thing. Maybe one of these days, I should read the documentation ("New to Techdirt?" link)?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:18am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      If google was to honor these conditions, then what is to stop then next country, and the next? Then it goes from not just news stories, to having to pay for normal search results.

      Using this logic, my local flower shop should be required to stock my software product FOR FREE, and e required pay me for anyone just looking at my software

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:20am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      Quoting the article:

      The report points out that it wasn't just Google News that shut down because of this law: a whole bunch of local Spanish aggregators shut down themselves, switched business models entirely, or similarly left the Spanish market entirely.


      Putin needs to hire trolls that at least read the articles.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:21am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      "Google should not be allowed to operate just however it chooses"

      Collection agencies should not be allowed operate however they choose either

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:27am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      Google has no obligation to operate in that country.

      Period.

      Full-stop.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:28am

        Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

        Exactly. Me refusing to work for someone for whatever reason (the pay sucks, the benefits suck, I don't like what I have to do, etc...) is not 'deliberately harming them'. It's refusing to provide them with a benefit in exchange for what they were providing me with in return.

        Google is not obligated to work/operate in Spain. They were offering them a benefit. If they later decide it's not worth it to operate in there in return for what they were receiving and so they decide to stop that's not deliberately harming them any more than me not wanting to work for a company because they decided to give me a pay cut just because the company was very hurt by the fact I left. Leaving the company doesn't harm the company it just denies it the benefit I was providing. But this shill really has twisted logic.

        Google received a pay cut. They left. They're deliberately harming the country. So if I work for a company, receive a pay cut and leave then I must be deliberately harming them too.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

          and lets compare the influence Google exercises with the influence the RIAA/MPAA exercises.

          Google started a business that provides lots of social benefit. The shill even admits to this by stating that the country was 'deliberately' harmed when Google left. They aren't required to provide such benefits but they do. That's analogous to me working for a company, doing better than everyone else by providing it with a benefit, and demanding more pay or demanding that I not get a pay cut. Lets say I work harder than everyone else and provide a better benefit. I naturally have more bargaining power over my pay.

          Google likewise has bargaining power because they provide the economy with so much. The shill even admits to this. They have 'the power of a mega-national corporation'. They have plenty of power. They EARNED that power with what they provide (but aren't required to) the economy with in return.

          The MPAA/RIAA and their members, OTOH, steal power through secretive meetings with politicians, back door dealings, greasing the palms of politicians, revolving door favors, and campaign contributions. The economy would be much much better off if the MPAA/RIAA doesn't get what they want (ie: copy protection extensions, expansions, etc...) but they get what they want not because their bargaining power stems from the services they provide the economy (and their refusal to operate is such a huge public threat that the public would get upset if the RIAA/MPAAA refuses to operate in return for the RIAA/MPAA not getting what they want) but their power stems from back door dealings with politicians. They didn't 'earn' their influence and bargaining power they subverted the democratic process, by buying politicians more directly, to essentially steal their power. but the shill would never make that distinction here.

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      • identicon
        Ted, 30 Jul 2015 @ 9:46am

        Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

        thank you! I was waiting for someone to say this... they are a business they dont owe anything to anyone or country

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:38am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      States used to authorise piracy with letters of marque, and that is what the copyright maximalists want the governments of the world to give them. Their problem is how do they collect when their target can fight back.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:45am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      So Spain passes a law that harms Google, and somehow that's Google's fault, and their response to that harmful law is a power grab? Right.

      If Google had as much power as you propose, the law wouldn't have been passed in the first place. Idiot.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 11:13am

        Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

        This is why we need corporate sovereignty: to punish governments for interfering with Google's operations and inhibit further interference!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 11:30am

          Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

          Somehow I highly doubt corporate sovereignty would be used to that end.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

            You must have ALOT of faith in humanity

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 1:37pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

              No, it's my lack of faith in humanity that makes me think that. Such a use of corporate sovereignty would actually be a good use of it which is exactly why it won't be used that way.

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              • icon
                John Fenderson (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 2:29pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

                I disagree. It would be a terrible use of it. But I can't actually think of a good use.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 6:56pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

                  "It would be a terrible use of it."

                  Fair enough but I guess my point is that it's not a terrible enough use of it to ever get used that way. Which is why my belief that it won't be used this way actually stems from my lack of faith in humanity.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 3:19am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

                  You invest in extending the life of nuclear power stations in a country based on an understanding that they will keep using nuclear power, and then 1 year later they say they are phasing out nuclear power entirely and you must close the plants earlier than expected and pay for the associated costs, and you get no compensation for that.

                  The problem is that if you don't have a consistent regulatory regime for such long term investments, they become significantly more risky, increasing costs. ISDS allows you to reduce the risk of such long term projects where a government changes its mind, so they do have a valid reason to exist where there's an issue of long term structural investment.

                  If you couldn't rely on a government to stick to its plans, you would find that most long term investment (e.g. power plants) would end up being significantly more expense. In the west, it's not too much of an issue as most countries don't screw people around like that, but if you imagine somewhere like Africa or South America, you run a significant risk of losing everything on the whim of someone when they are asking you to make a 20+ year commitment.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Gothenem, 30 Jul 2015 @ 5:20am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

                    There are regular courts and insurance for these purposes. If the country you are investing in does not have insurance for this type of thing, or a court system that will let you recoup your losses, then you should not invest there.

                    Buyer Beware. ISDS is an attempt to take the risk out of investing, but it is the taxpayers who suffer, not anyone else. No, ISDS is bad.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    John Fenderson (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 6:41am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

                    "If you couldn't rely on a government to stick to its plans, you would find that most long term investment (e.g. power plants) would end up being significantly more expense"

                    True. And then you know what you'd do? You wouldn't invest in those countries anymore. This is a self-correcting problem. There's no need to subvert a nation's sovereignty for this.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 3:47pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

                    While I disagree with you I marked your comment as insightful because it was a thought provoking response with a reasonable argument.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    bob, 6 Jul 2017 @ 2:26pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

                    I known this is an old post but,

                    If the business doesn't want to accept that risk then don't invest in that country. It is not the government's job to guarantee a company makes a profit. And in the case of actual theft by a country's government use the local court system and/or blacklist the country in the future.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:00am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      Google and other news aggregator services were sharing the wealth. They linked news sites and sent them traffic so they could generate wealth. Even better, it was sending them traffic for free.

      I send a bunch of people that I have contracted for to a certain business when they need their small devices repaired. If that business started telling me that I have to pay them to do it, then not only would I stop, I would tell everyone not to go there anymore.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:08am

      Whats good for the Google...

      Let's just apply your logic to the rest of media. The MAFIAA can receive a pittance, (say a penny) per gigabyte for media downloaded. After all, compulsory licensing is just a "well-intended share-the-wealth scheme."
      "This actually shows why MAFIAA should not be allowed to operate just however it chooses. But here it's blame GOOGLE rather than the corporation that if can't use the values others create to gain money, then it'll deliberately harm them."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:10am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      "But here it's blame Spain rather than the corporation that if can't use the values others create to gain money, then it'll deliberately harm them."

      Google is a for profit business. What you're advocating is that Google operate for free. That makes you a freetard.

      Google refusing to do something because it can't profit from it is not deliberately harming them it's being a for profit business. Google created value as well.

      and lets not forget the hypocrisy here. The RIAA/MPAA uses the value that others create the gain money. Distributors/publishers do exactly this. Yet I don't see you complain about it. Instead you complain about Google. You argue that it's OK for publishers to use the value others create to gain money because it's consensual. You wouldn't argue that when those distributors don't help those they don't benefit from or that don't consent to giving away their copy protections or receiving benefits from them they are deliberately harming them. Yet Google is also consensual, you can opt out. But when Google refuses to help those that offer them little to no profit all of a sudden they is deliberately harming them. You are such a hypocrite. Or, in all likelihood given your double standards, a shill.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:16am

        Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

        See, the difference between Techdirt and its authors and the people here and the, in all likelihood, shills that come here is that the shills have double standards. A certain set of practices, "use[ing] the values others create to gain money", is OK for the publishers, record labels, MPAA, etc.. who use the value of others (authors, actors, etc...) to gain money (and in many instances to seriously rip them off). But it's not OK for Google. When Google does something that's not even wrong they scream bloody murder. When the RIAA/MPAA does something terrible I don't hear a word from them. That's how I know they are in all likelihood shills.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:39am

        Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

        Actually, historically, the spanish news orgs should be paying google a commission.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Brown (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

        "Google is a for profit business. What you're advocating is that Google operate for free. That makes you a freetard."

        Hoisted by your own Freeetrd!" I love it!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Huh?, 29 Jul 2015 @ 3:52pm

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      HuH? Your "comment" doesn't even make sense. Send it back to the editor for editing & maybe some clarity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      mcv, 30 Jul 2015 @ 5:35am

      Re: Not the law as such doing harm, it's Google refusing to pay the pittance.

      "Google has chosen to use its power to harm Spain's entire economy"

      Google has not harmed anyone here, it has merely stopped helping them, because it was required to pay in order to help them. If Google's help is so unwanted, it makes sense for Google to stop, which is what happened.

      The problem is that the Spanish news media (unlike the entire rest of the world) didn't realize just how much Google was helping them. For free. They just saw a big company with lots of money and wanted some of that. I also want Google's money, but I'm not so stupid to think that I'm going to get it simply because I feel entitled to it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AJ, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:33am

    "Google has chosen to use its power to harm Spain's entire economy due to this well-intended share-the-wealth scheme, and thereby coerce the Spanish legislature."

    Exactly! As is their right and responsibility to their shareholders! Spain's Government told Google to pay up or leave. Google did what was best for their shareholders, and the long term health of their company. They did EXACTLY what they were supposed to do! Isn't that what all the AA's and shill's want? Pay up or do without?? Isn't that what they did?

    You shill's are so obvious. You don't want to protect the "artists / small guy", that's so much bullshit, you want Google's money, that's what you want. Everything is about "pay the pittance", and the only reason why you want them to "pay the pittance" is because your lazy ass won't go out and earn it yourself.

    Google came up with a system where they could increase the value of the media's news offerings, and make some money while doing so. Instead of accepting it and thanking Google, media went straight for the knives and slaughtered the golden goose. Those idiots got what they asked for, and ironically enough, exactly what they deserved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:35am

    I hope google never starts operating in that country again!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:40am

    Google not only has no obligation to operate in a specific country, they are better off avoiding the business risk.

    Even the in-country businesses shut down rather than take that risk, and they presumably have an advantage. Even if it's not a corrupt advantage of knowing the regulators personally, it's an inherent advantage of knowing the culture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    k-h, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:29am

    Perhaps it's not the point at all

    Perhaps the Spanish government just wanted to shut down a lot of Spanish news.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:34am

    This whole thing is an old story retold.

    A man found a lamp and rubbed it, and a genie appeared. The genie told him that he could have one wish, but whatever he asked for, his neighbor would get twice as much.

    The man replied "Make me blind in one eye."

    The Spanish newspaper cartel got EXACTLY what they wanted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ambrellite, 29 Jul 2015 @ 11:01am

    I doubt the Spanish publishers will humbly ask for the law they asked for to be repealed. Instead, they'll ask the Spanish government to pay aggregators' snippet fees, or create a public news aggregating service that serves the largest publishers only and pays their fees.

    How would the taxpayers protest, now that anti-dissent laws are in force?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:04pm

    two things are apparent to me here.

    1) Google is being blamed yet again for being so good

    2) the news publishers etc etc are part of the overall entertainment industries and what they want is to take control of the whole Internet. they wont be happy until that happens or the Internet collapses. this is another thorn that was going to be removed when the MPAA launched it's plan to demonise Google, with the help of the Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ryuugami, 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:06pm

    So... Exactly as predicted, eh? Wonder how the trolls will attempt to spin this one in the face of an overwhelming amount of evidence.

    You know what, let me put on my Troll-View©™® glasses and look at that article again...

    Study Of ... Google ... Shows How Much Damage It Has Done

    Well I'll be damned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TasMot (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:08pm

    It's not just GOOGLE, keep repeating, it's not just GOOGLE

    PLEASE, it would be one thing if just Google were the problem. However; MOST IF NOT ALL news aggregators got out of the business because of this new law. SO WHAT if Google was one of them.

    Would the Google haters please read the whole article and stop focusing on just Google. Many new aggregators went out of business to avoid this mandatory tax under a very vague law that just tries to give publishers money for other businesses sending them more business.

    Now Google AND MANY OTHER news aggregators stopped and the publishers have a lot of spilt milk to cry over as they end up with large drops in revenue because the advertisers are not getting page views anymore and ad rates WILL drop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 1:59pm

      Re: It's not just GOOGLE, keep repeating, it's not just GOOGLE

      I don't think the news aggregators care. As others have pointed out what the news aggregators and shills here want is for the big media conglomerates to be the only ones providing everyone with news aggregation so that they can spin things in their favor. The public wants independent news aggregators that link to the little guy and that base their links on merit but the big conglomerates don't want that. They want it both ways. They want to force news aggregators to both link to them and to pay them for it. If a news aggregator chooses to link to those that volunteer to be linked to for free they want them to not exist. This is really wrong as it hurts both little news aggregators that want to link to news articles based on merit and it hurts the little independent news sources that want their articles to be freely linked to. The government is essentially forcing people to pay to mass link to content made by those that want their content to be freely mass linked to. How is that good for content creators. It takes away their options, options that they should have every right to freely choose. Who is the government to decide for the little guy what's in his best interest than the little guy and to take away their rights based on what the government thinks it knows best. What if the little guy wants his content to be freely made available and mass linked to because they are releasing it not for profit but for enjoyment. Why should the government deny them that? What right has the government to deny them of that right and to deny the aggregators of the right to link to independent content creators and to deny the public of the benefit and right to receive links from aggregators that link to such sites. How can the shills possibly be in support of this in good conscience (I know, because they aren't in good conscience, they are evil). How could they be in support of this and then turn around and claim that what they are supporting is the content creators (I know, because they're hypocrites, they only care about the middlemen). When someone comes here and claims that copy protection should be non-transferable the shills would scream that this takes away options from creators and goes against contract principles. But then what the government is doing here is taking away options from creators and goes against contract principles and the shills are all fine with that. The only consistency here is that, in both situations, the shills are only in favor of what's best for the distributor. Which is why I can be pretty sure they are shills, because they're inconsistent about everything other than the fact that they want what's best for those they are shilling for.

      By getting rid of all the little players that freely link to news articles based on merit they can force the public to only choose news aggregators and have access to news articles and sites that they want.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 2:03pm

        Re: Re: It's not just GOOGLE, keep repeating, it's not just GOOGLE

        errr .... "As others have pointed out what the news aggregators and shills here want" should read "As others have pointed out what the shills here want ..."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TasMot (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:19pm

    Google drops Spain.....

    Net Profit drops .00000000000000001% and nobody notices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:50pm

    "We must now pass a law forcing Google to operate in our country and abide by this law because we hate Google so much."

    "Get the fuck out Google. What, you're actually leaving? You see how much of a dick Google is, guys?!"

    "Why can't anyone compete with Google? It's too damn powerful! Let's pass a law that attacks its competitors then!" While the competitors still have it rather difficult even when Google is no longer in the fucking country. Still Google's fault

    Yeah. Take THAT pirates!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Look outside the box, 29 Jul 2015 @ 4:06pm

    Just think a minute

    Only Spanish publications are affected, the people of Spain are now reading the BBC news and other sources that are still carried by Google and other news outlets outside of the country.

    The Spanish government is happy; they again control the Spanish media though the major media sources of the country because the opposition media are not easy to find anymore. This makes the "proper" and official news the only locally available.

    Win-Win for the sitting politicians yes?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:04pm

    I am seeing a lot of confused ideas here about Google "sharing the wealth", or some such idea...

    Go to Google News... how many adds do you see?

    What's that? Zero?

    Last I heard Google doesn't monetize Google News. It presumable gets some benefit (more users going to Google and using it's services) but money is not made by News. this is why they backed out of Spain. They had a free aggregation service, that made no money for them (at least directly), and the Spanish government decided they needed to pay fees to the Spanish sites to continue to provide this free service with no (direct) profit.
    When there is no real profit, but no real loss either it's not so bad. But when there is no profit, and there is real loss, the business is untenable and you close it down, which is exactly what they did with Google News in Spain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:49pm

    Expansion of copyright law resulted in more monopolies. Isn't that what copyright law is supposed to do? Create monopolies? I guess the law is working as intended.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 2:39am

    There once was an out_of_the_blue
    Who hated the process of due
    Each post that he'd made
    Was DMCAed
    And shoved up his ass with a screw

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 3:32am

    Bizzaro Internet

    I keep feeling that I've awakened on Alternate Earth.

    We used to pay linking services to help us fool Google, et al., into thinking we were more popular than we actually were...so that Google would list us. We hire specialists to make our content sufficiently attractive to Google that our sites get indexed for free (reread that statement a couple of times). We pay Google to list ads about us, if our SEO efforts are too pathetic to get us desirably listed organically.

    Google could open a new, paid service to index news for any news agency willing to purchase listings. There might be an auto-list option available, where Google would spider and index your news site, so you didn't have to do it for yourself. For a little more, the news agency could have Google enhance the listings of the news articles by capturing snippets of the content to include with the listings. Google could reduce or even waive fees for the small news agencies, as long as everyone agreed that Google was providing requested, commercial services according to the terms of a contract.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 8:30am

    I really think this demonstrates how market ideology has taken root in everyone's mind. If money is not changing hands people think their must be stealing going on. People think everything has to be a transaction in the market.

    This is just like the Amanda Palmer situation. No one complains when an artist hires a backing band and pays them to play on stage. Artists have also charged people for the privilege of playing on stage with them and no one complained (because what musician wouldn't love to be able to play with their favorite artist). But when Palmer asked people to play with her for free, people freaked out. No money was changing hands therefore it must be exploitation!

    I guarantee you if Google had been charging newspapers for the privilege of being included in Google News, none of this would've happened, none of these laws would have been created. It's because they did it for free, because no money was changing hands, that people think there must have been some exploitation going on. Even people who are in favor of "sharing the wealth," as our resident tard describes this Spanish Law, are brainwashed into thinking everything must be a transaction in the market, that money must be changing hands at all times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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