Google shuts down Google News Spain

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Google news logo.
Flag of Spain.

On its blog, Google, a U.S. headquartered multinational corporation specializing in Internet-related services and products, announced it would be shutting down the Spanish version of Google News, effective from December 16 of this year. The shutdown came in direct response to amendments to the Spanish intellectual property law —Ley De Propiedad Intelectual— imposing a compulsory fee for the use of snippets of text to link to news articles, by online news aggregators that provide a search service.

The Spanish intellectual property law passed the Senate on October 15, passed Congress on October 30, and would take effect starting in January 2015. Spain made the right to payment inalienable, so that even the news organization quoted is not permitted to waive it. Google News did not run ads on its news service, so did not profit directly, and said continuing to run the service would not be sustainable.

A similar fee had been first introduced in German law in 2013, where it was described as an "ancillary copyright" — Leistungsschutzrecht. International copyright law preserves the right to make quotations without remuneration, the only such mandatory limitation to copyright. In Germany publishers willingly forfeited their right to payment from Google, given how much traffic they would lose from not being indexed on Google News.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) had expressed concerns that "these ancillary copyright laws form part of a broader trend of derogation from the right to link." They continued, "This can be seen when you examine the other parts of the Spanish copyright amendments that take effect in January [...] — notably placing criminal liability on website operators who refuse to remove mere links to copyright-infringing material." EFF quoted the recent introduction of the so-called "right to be forgotten" legislation allowing removal of entries from Google web search results.


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