A law set to be enacted in Spain will see the end of Google News in the country, though similar legislation has made German officials rethink their stance.
Spain is preparing to mandate that Google pay each news site and blog the search engine company lists in Google News. Google asserts that the news-aggregation service brings in no money, as it keeps ads out of Google News.
The "Google Tax," as it's being called, goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, but Google is shuttering the news-aggregation service rather than pay copyright fees in Spain on Dec. 16, 2014.
Google News helps drive views to news outlets, which can be converted to ad revenue for publishers. But because the service doesn't bring Google any money, the company won't pay up to keep it alive in Spain, according to Google.
"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," says Richard Gingras, head of Google News. "As Google News itself makes no money -- we do not show any advertising on the site -- this new approach is simply not sustainable."
From where Spanish publications stand, Google News provides users with a free round up of news stories and blog posts. While Google News directs viewers back to the news sources' sites, where the ads are, Spanish journalist Miguel Anxo Murado suggested in an interview with the BBC that the new Google Tax is about changing the perception that news is free.
"It is not just because of the newspapers closing... it's also a matter of principle," says Murado. "The idea that news comes for free sends the wrong message ... news is very valuable and costly. Good information comes at a price."
Attempting to tax Google for the news-aggregation service is possibly an attempt on the part of publishers to make more money for their stories and top be paid for their intellectual property. Google would likely have to introduce ads into Google News to keep the service afloat in areas where it is taxed, which would lead to other regions looking for similar profits and an expansion of ads on the aggregation service in other countries.
While Germany's legislation on Google News and other aggregators isn't as strict as Spain's new laws, the withdrawal of the service earlier had a negative impact on publishers. German news conglomerate Axel Springer says it would have fallen completely out of the market if it had held to the licensing fees it was originally demanding from Google.