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.