Spanish Newspapers Want Google News Back

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The Internet is like a delicate rainforest ecosystem. You remove one player and the rest suffer and die. That happened in Spain this week when the government there began cracking down on Google. The Spanish government is requiring the company to pay Spanish news providers every time their content appears on the site. The search giant will shut down Google News there in response and no content will be available from the country’s major newspapers including El Pais and La Vanguardia.

As you can imagine, this is bad news. While newspapers have long claimed they can survive in the Internet Age without outside support, this is dead wrong. Given that the vast majority of news traffic comes from search – everything from “new laser printer” to “is betty white married” returns information from news sources – I can only imagine how much Spanish newspapers depend on Google for their reach and visitor count.

According to the Spain Report, the Spanish Newspaper Publishers’ Association is now pleading for mercy.

The Spanish Newspaper Publishers’ Association (AEDE) issued a statement last night saying that Google News was “not just the closure of another service given its dominant market position”, recognising that Google’s decision: “will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses”.

Google, for its part, explained the move this way:

“This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable. 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.”

In short, the Spanish media lobby bit off more than it could chew, something that will happen again and again until media companies realize that there are far more efficient ways of separating visitors from their pocket change via micropayments and bitcoin. Until then, it will be amusing to watch well-meaning lawyers throw levers and switches in the media locomotive until the whole thing runs off the tracks.