Talking tech since 2003

Spanish news corporations are saying that the recent announcement that Google would shut down its News service in the country will “undoubtedly have a negative impact” on their business. The reason it’s shutting down, however, has little to do with Google and everything to do with Spain’s new laws that would tax the company for doing what it’s always done: providing links to other parts of the web.

It’s an example of clueless companies and lawmakers working together to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to evolving technology. Last week, Google announced it would pull its Google News service – which aggregates and provides links to news stories across the web – from Spain. The reason? Spain had passed a law in late-October (which would take effect on January 1, 2015) that would allow news publishers to charge money of any site that displays any amount of their content.

In short, it would tax Google for showing snippets along with links to their news stories – effectively charging aggregators like Google for the generous and no-cost act of funneling traffic to their sites. There’s an aspect to the law which makes sense, in that content is often lifted and re-published with no attribution or accountability given to the content’s original source. However, the execution was so wrong-headed and reactionary that now Spain’s news organizations will lose even more money after their efforts to do the exact opposite.

Apparently Spanish news sites are asking for the country’s government to step in and try to work something out with Google, but as of now it doesn’t seem like this is likely to happen. The whole situation serves as a lesson in how not to legislate on technology. If nothing else, it should show why and how our own lawmakers should learn how to deal with issues like Net Neutrality and intellectual property/piracy legislation in such a way as to not hurt businesses in a backwards effort to protect them.

[Sources: Neowin, The Spain Report]

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