Google News Says Adios to Spain

Google

The Internet giant pulls out ahead of legislation that requires paying Spanish publishers to link to sites

As forewarned, Google News removed Spanish publishers from its site on Tuesday as the aggregator chose to shut down its operations in Spain rather than pay Spanish newspapers for linking to their sites.

The move comes days after Spain’s much-debated intellectual property law passed and weeks before it goes into effect, allowing for up to $758,000 in fines for not paying for news content from the rights holders.

The Spanish Association of Daily Newspapers (AEDE), which lobbied for the legislation, has admitted that Google’s decision will be tough and will affect traffic to their sites, but stopped shy of asking the government to backpedal on the measure.

AEDE did, however, call on the Spanish authorities and EU regulators — who have their own investigation into Google’s dominance in the market — to intervene.

“Given Google’s dominant position, AEDE is requesting that Spanish and EU authorities, as well as anti-trust authorities, intervene to protect the rights of citizens and companies,” AEDE said.

Google News announced the decision to close last week, arguing it makes no money on the news site, does not place ads on the news page, creates real value in the form of traffic for the Spanish publishers and found the model of paying for excerpts “unsustainable.”

Other news aggregators, like the Spanish site Meneame, have said they were unclear what their next move would be.

In the meantime, web analytics service Chartbeat said Spanish news sites saw a double-digit drop in external traffic.

Josh Schwartz, the chief data scientist at Chartbeat, told tech site Gigaom that the service tracks about 50 Spanish sites and that the data shows an average drop of between 10 to 15 percent in traffic following this morning’s removal. Schwartz said internal traffic from one Spanish publisher to the other was up, however, suggesting that readers were looking from one to the other directly.

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