Google to Shut Down Search Engine in Spain

Google News will shut down service in Spain on Dec. 16. The announcement that the global search engine will no longer be available in the country follows Spain’s passage in October of a strict intellectual property law that includes a so-called “Google tax,” allowing newspapers and other publishers to charge Internet aggregators each time their articles appear in Internet search results. The law is to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Richard Gingras, Head of Google News, wrote in a post on the Google Europe blog that Spanish publishers will also be removed from Google searches worldwide.

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“This new 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,” Gingras wrote. “As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable.”

Spanish Minister of Education Jose Wert, who spearheaded the law, and other promoters of the new policy has deemed it one designed to protect content creators, limit the concept of personal copies, and exhibit greater control over organizations that collect and distribute royalties. A government commission will have more freedom to go after alleged pirate web sites.

The Intellectual Property Law, passed on Oct. 30 and known as the LPI, allows for sanctions of up to $758,000 (€600,000) for linking to pirated content, which under the definition of the law includes texts from newspapers and other Spanish publishers.

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“[Google’s search engine] is a service that hundreds of millions of users love and trust, including many here in Spain,” Gingras wrote. “It’s free to use and includes everything from the world’s biggest newspapers to small, local publications and bloggers. Publishers can choose whether or not they want their articles to appear in Google News -- and the vast majority choose to be included for very good reason. Google News creates real value for these publications by driving people to their Websites, which in turn helps generate advertising revenues.”

Wert said after Google’s announcement that the company’s decision was premature, because the tax “could still be negotiatied.” He added that Google’s announcement was a “business decision” that the Spanish government could not get involved in.