Online aggregators beware, Spain has passed a new law obliging them to pay a tax to the original news source they are linking to in a bid to save the domestic newspaper industry. Named the ‘Google tax’ after the most prominent news aggregator, companies affected will be forced to pay a monthly fee or per link, to the AEDE (Asociación de Editores de Diarios Españoles) or risk a fine of €600,000.
The ‘Canon AEDE’ part of the new change to Intellectual Property Law (LPI), applicable from January 2015, aims to protect the domestic media industry from news aggregators e.g. Google News, Yahoo News, Menéame, Reddit, Flipboard and Pocket, (Facebook and Twitter are being left alone for the moment) accused of taking news excerpts from other sources for their benefit. Google however defends their business by claiming they send news websites 10 billion views a month and Spain’s media risk losing visitors if de-listed from Google News altogether.
With AEDE hoping to reap profits of €80 million a year from this legislation, they may get a surprise if Google News shuts down completely in Spain leaving them with zero centavos…
Perhaps they will mirror what happened in Germany during summer 2013 when a similar protectionist legislation U-turned after seeing visitor numbers plummet. Publishers eventually gave Google ‘free consent’ to display their content to avoid risking lost revenues.
The new PP legislation is receiving criticism from all opposition parties calling it backwards, limiting the organic, sharing nature of the internet, and a step towards censorship. Smaller publishers association AEEPP (Asociación Española de Editoriales de Publicaciones Periódicas) fears the effect on smaller publishers. The law is unlikely to benefit internet users who use news aggregators to find news they’re interested instead of going directly to the news site.