First And Only Snippet Tax Deal In Spain Is With Big Supporter Of Snippet Tax In Germany

from the maybe-just-a-coincidence dept

Two years ago, Techdirt wrote about an industry study of Spain's "Google tax", which requires a Web site to pay for sending traffic to publishers when it quotes snippets of their texts. Just as everyone who actually understands the Internet predicted, Spain's new law had a disastrous effect on the publishing industry there, especially on smaller companies. Despite that unequivocal evidence, the law is still in place, and it's a further sign of how pointless it is that only now has the Spanish Center for Reprographic Rights (Cedro) finally managed to sign up its first deal with a news aggregator, called Upday (original in Spanish). Cedro is claiming that this "pioneering" move possesses a "strategic importance" because it recognizes the rights of those whose publications appear elsewhere as snippets.

The fact that it has taken so long to find anyone willing to accept that point is bad enough, but it gets worse. Upday operates across Europe, and was launched in Spain at the beginning of March this year. It turns out to be a partnership between Axel Springer and Samsung. As Techdirt readers may recall, the giant publishing group Axel Springer is one of the biggest supporters of the Google tax in Germany. Initially, it tried to take a hard line against the US search company. But Axel Springer was soon forced to back down humiliatingly and offer Google a free license to post snippets from its publications. A two-week experiment without search engine leads caused Web traffic to Axel Springer's sites to plunge.

So, far from being a "pioneering" move that validates the whole snippet tax approach in Spain, Upday's deal with Cedro is simply a key German supporter of this daft idea trying to give the impression that the moribund Spanish Google tax is still twitching somewhat. It's pretty clear why Axel Springer and Cedro would be keen to do that now, after years of nothing happening in Spain. The European Union is currently revising the main EU Copyright Directive. Article 11 of the proposed text is an EU-wide version of the snippet tax, despite the fact that the idea has failed miserably everywhere that it has been tried. The agreement between Upday and Cedro will presumably be used as "evidence" that the Google tax is "working" in Spain. The fact that it is a "circular" deal between German and Spanish supporters of the idea proves the exact contrary.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 1:41pm

    Next step, pass a laws that forbids Google from leaving Europe.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 2:27pm

      Re:

      You jest, but during the whole spain debacle there actually were people arguing in the comments that Google shouldn't have been allowed to pull their service out of the country, and that doing so was somehow a bad thing in their part.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 9:30pm

        Re: Re:

        It's a common rebuttal of copyright proponents - who have a huge bone to pick with Google - that if you don't like the terms given to you, you should do without. Apparently if they choose you don't even get to do without either.

        And somehow, despite all this decision-making clout at their command, it's Google who has the monopoly.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 2 Jul 2017 @ 5:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That was probably the funniest part of the whole debacle, watching the 'If you don't like the terms, do without' group suddenly have a huge problem when Google didn't like the terms and did without, and throwing out comments about how 'unreasonable' Google was being since they could 'easily' have complied with the law by jumping through thousands of hoops in order to get right back to almost where they were before the law was passed.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 3 Jul 2017 @ 12:36am

        Re: Re:

        IIRC, that argument was coming from the publishers, who were arguing that refusing to service these countries due to the new rules was somehow an abuse of their "monopoly" position.

        That, of course, revealed the true nature of these moves. The publishers have been unable to effectively monetise the traffic that Google sends to them while, on the face of it at least, Google has done so (the reality being rather more complicated since Google don't directly monetise search results). So, they demand that Google pay them money to make up for the "loss", and cry foul when Google decides simply not to offer their product instead. Presumably because they are aware that they also need the extra traffic Google sends them for free.

        Hopefully, saner heads will prevail before this is attempted across the EU, and people will note how lost traffic and zero additional income has resulted from previous attempts. But, we'll see..

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 30 Jun 2017 @ 1:45pm

    if you've lost your shirt, Spain says, "Double down and bet the farm".

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 2:12pm

    Cedro is claiming that this "pioneering" move possesses a "strategic importance"

    A Trump tweet about a talk show host is more pioneering, has more strategic importance, and a firmer grasp on reality.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 2:31pm

    I suppose if someone can manage to get this passed, and stick, across Europe, then either goog relents and pays "tax", or they stop providing snippets or results, and then there will be competition among others to provide taxed results. And by that, I mean Upday monopolizes the taxed results dealio.

    Can't wait to see how these taxes are disbursed to the actual copyright holders.

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

    • icon
      Hugh Jasohl (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 2:44pm

      Re:

      Google already showed that they will withdraw from countries that enact such retarded legislation. The countries themselves are going to suffer, not Google.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 2:57pm

        Re: Re:

        I believe that one of the reasons they're pushing for an EU-wide Google-tax(besides greed) is that they figure that while Google can and will pull out of a country if faced with such toxic terms, they won't be willing to pull out of multiple countries as it would cause too big of a hit.

        What they don't seem to realize is that so long as anyone in charge has any brains Google is much better off pulling service rather than paying the tax, as if they do they'll be nickle and dime'd to death, such that even pulling service from the EU would likely still be the better option.

        (Not to mention by now Google has got to realize that even if the tax is implemented and used against them the same song and dance will occur. They'll be told 'pay up', they'll pull service, site traffic plummets, the same sites that were so looking forward to the free money that they were never actually going to get start screaming up a storm and begging to be re-listed, and the politicians either repeal the law or carve out a Google-specific exemption to it, leaving Google in an even better position than before.)

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 3:31pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Carving out exemptions would be even worse, I think. But I can see it happening.
          You're right that Google should just go away for however long it takes for it to get through their skulls that this is not even wrong, just plain, basest stupidity.
          Google's job is to aggregate stuff from around the web and present it to people how go to them in search of said content. The audience is there, willing and ready, and these numskulls would rather send them away than have them guided to their doorstep, at no extra expense of their own!

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 4:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Carving out exemptions would be even worse, I think. But I can see it happening.

            Oh it wasn't a hypothetical, that's how it happened when they tried it in germany.

            'Initially, it tried to take a hard line against the US search company. But Axel Springer was soon forced to back down humiliatingly and offer Google a free license to post snippets from its publications.'

            They tried to shake Google down, Google dropped snippets in response, and inside of two weeks they were begging Google to re-list them after seeing their traffic plummet, to the point where they were even willing to offer Google 'special permission' to do so.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 7:48pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The thing is, Google has such a big and good worldwide reputation that they could easily recapture a lot of the market share by jumping back in the second such laws are repealed.

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

        • icon
          Bamboo Harvester (profile), 2 Jul 2017 @ 3:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Google relented and re-listed last time around. I suspect if they de-list these clowns for two to six months (or forever) the lesson will be learned as the snippet-tax proponents file for bankruptcy.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 3 Jul 2017 @ 12:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I believe that one of the reasons they're pushing for an EU-wide Google-tax(besides greed) is that they figure that while Google can and will pull out of a country if faced with such toxic terms, they won't be willing to pull out of multiple countries as it would cause too big of a hit."

          Perhaps, but what's interesting there is that the main focus of this legislation - the Google News service - is not something that Google monetises directly. They may use the data gathered elsewhere, but they don't make money directly from people clicking through, and there are no ads on that page. Unless I'm mistaken about that, Google could probably pull the entire service globally and not take a major hit on revenue.

          The publishers? Not so much. I suspect a lot of people use it like I do and use it to grab an overview of different headlines and viewpoints in an easy manner. This leads me to click through to numerous news sources I would never, ever go to if they didn't appear on this kind of aggregator. Without it, I'd revert to going to known trusted searches and never visit a lot of these publishers again. As usual, it comes down to the publishers not being able to correct monetise the extra traffic they're sent, then demanding Google pay them because they were able to do that.

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

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 3:24pm

      Re:

      I can't wait to see what % of those taxes collected go to administration, marketing, salaries, bonuses, profit, shipping and handling (those royalty checks are burdensome you know), private detectives (copyright owners are hard to find you know) etc.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 2:34pm

    Also would like to know what parties are going to handle taxing people who look at advertisements, or read the dust jacket on a book to see if they are interested.

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

  • icon
    stderric (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 4:32pm

    To: everyone@eu.eu
    From: google@gmail.goog
    Subject: Re: Re: Copyright Directive
    EXACTLY.

    >
    >To: everyone@eu.eu
    >From: google@gmail.goog
    >Subject: Re: Copyright Directive
    >What's a 'Canada'?
    >
    >
    >>To: everyone@eu.eu
    >>From: google@gmail.goog
    >>Subject: Copyright Directive
    >>Hey guys, do you remember what happened to Canada?
    >>

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

  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 30 Jun 2017 @ 6:08pm

    Paraphrases rather than snippets?

    If Germany and Spain persuade the EU to require an EU-wide snippet tax, could Google avoid the tax by replacing snippets with computer-generated paraphrases?

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


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