Google has gone ahead with its threat to shut down its news service, Google News in Spain, before a Spanish intellectual property law comes into effect in January.
The service, which provided aggregated news content, has been replaced by a message from Google saying it is ‘incredibly sad’ to announce the removal of Spanish publishers from the site, as well as the closure of Google News in Spain.
The new law, dubbed the Google Tax, will require Spanish publications to charge services such as Google News to feature their content, even if they are prepared to give it away for free. This content includes headlines as well as snippets of articles.
However, Google said this approach was unsustainable because it makes no money from its news service.
It said: "This 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 was not sustainable."
The new law has been backed by AEDE, the Spanish Newspaper Publishers' Association, which represents large news organisations.
However, the AEDE is now calling on Spanish government authorities to intervene amid fears that all Spanish news publications will be also dropped from Google's main search engine.
AEDE's Irene Lanzaco told The Spain Report: "We're not asking Google to take a step backwards, we’ve always been open to negotiations with Google". However, she added, “Google has not taken a neutral stance”.
"Of course they are free to close their business, but one thing is the closure of Google News and quite another the positioning in the general index".
Those who use Google’s standard search in Spain will still be able to carry out their own search outside of Google News to find articles from Spanish publications.
However, as the law applies to news aggregators, users will not have the top stories sorted for them. Spanish publications can also anticipate a large decline in internet traffic.
The Google News service, a dominant news aggregator, accounts for 80% of the European search market. It is available in over 70 international editions and in 35 languages.