In response to strict new copyright laws, Google has announced it will close Google News in Spain. We understand that it is not just Google News going in Spain, but also the Spanish publishers’ content that would’ve been on Google News in Spain. This means it will affect Spanish-speaking readers on Google News in other countries. In some cases the content will be legally re-supplied by local outlets.
The new law would’ve obliged Google to pay publishers for including their content in Google News – even if it was only a headline. When similar copyright changes have come in elsewhere Google have been somewhat ahead of the game by getting publishers to sign waivers – arguing that the traffic they supply was worth it. However this new Spanish law is so stringent that it rules out this sort of tactic, even if the publisher is fully willing.
Google has therefore said that because they don’t monetise the service (directly) they will have to close it.
What will happen next?
There’s no doubt that few companies are powerful enough to do what Google’s done – there’s an argument for saying they’re taking their bat and ball and going home – but will it backfire? When a German publisher removed their content from Google News they found the traffic drop too drastic to bear – so they had to change their minds and go back on to the service.
If such an effect happens en masse will Spanish publishers be clamouring for a change? Possibly, but unlike Germany this now affects everyone, so perhaps readers will find what they’re looking through via the generic search?
Could it go the other way and negatively affect Google’s revenue elsewhere? Just because they don’t monetise News directly doesn’t mean it has no affect on money made in other Google properties. It’s another tool, along with maps, mail, storage etc, which adds value to the entire brand.
Hot on the heals of the new Firefox/Yahoo deal, however, I suggest that Yahoo might take the opportunity to have a more useful experience for news by paying the fees and featuring the content. If they do we could be in for an interesting 2015 for search!