A new copyright law is being introduced in Spain that forces news aggregation services to pay the news sites from which they grab links. It will be in effect starting January 2015.
You might wonder who this affects, but the answer is simple – any site like Google News, which pulls links to various news articles and posts them in a single aggregate collection. If you've ever used Google News, you probably know how convenient it can be to have such a service.
Naturally, Google isn't very happy about this new law, and for good reason. It doesn't actually show any advertising on the site, meaning that it makes no money from Google News. To start paying news providers despite not making any revenue is just silly. What's Google's solution? Get up and leave.
As of December 16, the Google News service will no longer be available in Spain, and readers will either have to look for other news aggregation services that will put up with the new law, or simply start browsing their favorite news sources one by one.
"As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable," said Richard Gingras, Head of Google News. "So it's with real sadness that on 16 December (before the new law comes into effect in January) we'll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain."
We haven't even touched the best part of this conundrum yet, though. Google News brings heaps of traffic to various news sites, increasing their traffic numbers substantially, which helps them obtain more advertising revenue, so it is in their best interests to have Google News exist. Heck, surely many, if not all, news sites wouldn't even think of charging the search giant for posting links to their content.
So, who's behind this law? Traditional newspaper publishers that are upset at news aggregation services taking snippets of their work and posting it on their websites. Sure, technically, these snippets are intellectual property, but the whole point of aggregation services is to show you a given story's headline and perhaps the first sentence to entice you to click the link. All that these publishers have accomplished is to shoot themselves in the foot. If it mattered that much to them, they could have just decided to opt-out from Google News – the company does offer that option.
It sounds to us that this whole thing was either due to complete ignorance about the purpose of and technology behind news aggregation sites, or traditional publishers are trying to hurt the success of web-based media properties.