Google News and Spain: control of the freedom of press?

Posted by & filed under Politics, Technology.

spainSo, Spain now has a new law that requires news publications to charge aggregators, such as Google News, for showing even small snippets. Because, like, copyright and blah-blah-blah, they’re stealing our content!!!!! type of thing. Never mind that inclusion in the news was voluntary and websites could opt-out.

No, because greed covered their eyes and made them think that Google will just pay out of its own pocket for the right to show news snippets on the site that earns no money. So Google News closes in Spain.

But I think there might be a different subtext here. Perhaps the government simply doesn’t want users to have an easy access to individual small publishers. Law doesn’t distinguish between big and small outlets, right? They all now have to be paid for use of their content, a new organization will be created to manage that wonderful money stream etc.
Therefore there will now be less options for users to discover smaller media outlets, because the big ones succeeded at nuking aggregators from the orbit. Yes, technically you can still access press on the newspapers’ websites. No, your choices are going to be reduced. And even if Spain-based newspaper wanted to be included for free, they won’t be able to do it any more.

I wonder if “rights holders” will ever change their mind. As in, how stubborn they are, and will they rather suffer drop in traffic than admit that they do indeed benefit from the free service that includes tiny pieces of their content on one page.

I’m not hopeful. At least because there’s probably going to be Yahoo News that shows ads and is more likely to pay. We’ll see.

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