Spanish Newspapers Beg Gov’t To Stop Google News Shutting Down, Ed Minister Says No
On Thursday I reported that Google was shutting down its Google News search engine in Spain rather than pay license fees, and now it seems the Spanish govt has no plans to intervene and protect Spanish news publishers from their folly.
The Spain Report posted a story on Friday which quotes AEDE ( la Asociación de Editores de Diarios Españoles) spokesperson as saying that it wants the Spanish government to intervene (found via Techdirt). I can’t find a copy of the statement, but:
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”.
“Given the dominant position of Google (which in Spain controls almost all of the searches in the market and is an authentic gateway to the Internet), AEDE requires the intervention of Spanish and community authorities, and competition authorities, to effectively protect the rights of citizens and companies”.
Irene Lanzaco, a spokeswoman for AEDE, told The Spain Report by telephone that “we’re not asking Google to take a step backwards, we’ve always been open to negotiations with Google” but, she said: “Google has not taken a neutral stance”.
Google is shutting down Google News in Spain in response to a new copyright law which conjured a new right for copyright holders out of thin air. The new law will take effect in January and give news publishers the inalienable right to be compensated for the use of snippets and links.
This puts Google in the position of either paying or shutting down Google News, and they choose the latter option (just like we all knew they would).
And so AEDE wants to be rescued from their mistake, but I would not assume that will happen. I spent some time looking for a response to the AEDE request, and while I haven’t found one I did find statements from Spanish Education Minister José Ignacio Wert remarking on the Google News news.
El Pais reported on Friday (in Spanish) that Wert did not seem inclined to get involved (via Google Translate):
The minister has said that the "sole purpose" of this provision is "fairly" to "protect the media, ie the media are the beneficiaries of that compensation." "Our belief, which is in line with other laws, and what the EU wants to make is that this issue must be resolved as a balanced consideration of the rights of both parties," he insisted.
On the other hand, Wert stressed than Google is a "business decision", in which the government should not come, being a company policy.
That should not be taken as the final policy of the Spanish government, but I also wouldn’t bet on this policy shifting. The only two real options would be to repeal part of the law or to force Google to continue to operate a money losing operation, and Wert has indicated that neither option is likely.
To put it colorfully, AEDE went out on a limb, cut it off, and then discovered that they can’t rely on the Spanish govt to give them a parachute.