Google has said it will shut down Google News in Spain, before a new ruling comes into effect meaning it would have to pay publishers if it displayed their content on its site.
In a post on its site, Richard Gingras, the head of Google News, said “It’s with real sadness that on 16 December we’ll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain.”
Spain passed a law in October that will come into effect in January allowing Spanish publishers to charge news aggregators, such as Google, if their content appears on its site.
Gingras added that publishers could choose whether or not their articles appeared in Google News, and that most did because the news aggregator drove people to their websites.
The ruling, popularly known as the “Google tax”, requires services that post links and snippets from news articles to pay a fee to the Association of Editors of Spanish Dailies. It will also affect other news aggregators, such as Yahoo News and Bing.
Authorities will have the power to fine websites up to €600,000 (£477,000) if they link to content without permission.
It’s with real sadness that on 16 December we’ll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain. – Richard Gingras, head of Google News
This is not the first time European countries have chafed at the tech giant. Germany revised its copyright laws in 2013 – now Google asks publishers for consent to summarise their content. The move is seen as a compromise after some German newspapers removed their content from Google News, but saw the number of readers plummet as a result.
In Spain, however, Spanish publications will have to charge Google “whether they want to or not,” said Gingras. As a result, the move to close Google News Spain seems irreversible unless the law is repealed.
Gingras added: “We’re committed to helping the news industry and look forward to continuing to work with our thousands of partners globally, as well as in Spain, to help them increase their online readership and revenues.”