Adiós Google News: Service shuts down in Spain over new copyright law

Google News is set to shut down in Spain as a result of new regulations that require the search engine giant to pay Spanish news outlets for linking to their content.

The country’s new intellectual property law, dubbed the Google Tax, comes into effect on 1 January and Google says makes its service “unsustainable” as it currently makes no revenue.

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Google News will stop linking content from Spanish publishers and cease operating in the country from 16 December.

While the law did not specify how much Google would be forced to pay news organisations, the web firm said in a statement that publishers would be required to charge “for showing even the smallest snippets of their content - whether they want to charge or not”.

Google News has a mixed relationship with the majority of publishers, with some feeling that the service ignores copyright legislation by creating a digital newspaper made up of stories gathered from other websites. Google does allow publishers to opt-out of the service, but the majority are reluctant to do so as it is an effective way of generating traffic and therefore advertising revenue.

Google is also adamant that it complies with all existing copyright laws, while providing a valuable service that increases website viewer numbers.

While Spain will become the first country to lose the service, Google News did undergo some changes in Germany as a result of revised copyright laws last year. Faced with the possibility of making royalty payments, Google now must ask publishers for consent before summarising any content.

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The search engine giant also faces a separate “Google Tax” in the UK, with chancellor George Osborne looking to prevent multinational companies from shifting profits as a way of lowering their tax bill.