Force Google News to Stay in Spain, Newspaper Association Tells Government


Robert Scoble / photo on flickr

As Scott Shackford noted last week, Google News is pulling out of Spain after the newspaper industry there, represented by the Asociación de Editores de Diarios Españoles (AEDE) successfully lobbied to force newspapers to charge Google for the inclusion of their content in news search results. Yes, really. Since Google News makes no money, Google found this a bit rich and decided to close shop rather than hemorrhage cash for the privilege of including Spanish newspaper results. Now, the AEDE wants Spanish and European Union government officials to force Google to keep the local edition of Google News operating. And, presumably, paying newspapers.

The closure announcement last week from Richard Gingras, head of Google News read, in part:

[S]adly, as a result of a new Spanish law, we'll shortly have to close Google News in Spain. Let me explain why. 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. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable. So it's with real sadness that on 16 December (before the new law comes into effect in January) we'll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain.

You'd think Spanish newspapers would be thrilled, since AEDE has fulminated for years that "Google es dominante en varios mercados y está abusando de esa posición de dominio." No Google News, no Google dominance, right?

Not so much. The Spain Report (based in the UK and so likely to continue appearing in the occasional news search) notes that the Spanish newspaper industry is in a bit of a panic over Google's decision to withdraw from a market where its presence has made so many Spaniards unhappy.

The Spanish Newspaper Publishers' Association (AEDE) issued a statement last night saying that Google News was "not just the closure of another service given its dominant market position", recognising that Google's decision: "will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses".

"Given the dominant position of Google (which in Spain controls almost all of the searches in the market and is an authentic gateway to the Internet), AEDE requires the intervention of Spanish and community authorities, and competition authorities, to effectively protect the rights of citizens and companies".

Hoist, meet petard.

Who knew that the logical outcome of forcing businesses to participate in the market only on terms really favorable to connected players would be that some might choose not to participate at all? So the next logical step is to make them stay in business!

AEDE's denunciations of Google have often been issued jointly with German publishing associations, which have yet to win their way to a legislative victory comparable to that of their Spanish counterparts. Let's see if they maintain their enthusiasm after recent developments.

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  1. Seems pretty much par for the course in the statist playbook.

    Step 1: Pass law threatening force against X for the crime of being X
    Step 2: Pass law threatening force against X for trying to avoid having force used against X
    Step 3: Use force against X

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    1. Yet people try to convince me that Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction.

      1. I used to say that Atlas Shrugged suffered from unbelievable characters, particularly villains who behaved and said things that nobody would *really* do or say.

        Now I just hold my tongue and weep inside.

    2. Pretty close to "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. " Just now they've moved from "subsidize" to "require".

      PS: Have you ever joined up with the Razor's Edge tailgaters?

      1. No, are they the group at Rodman?
        Gorgeous day for football yesterday...

        1. Yeah, though they used to be in what is now the employee lot. They are a pretty awesome group. One of the guys won I met one of the guys last week in SD and he invited me to join them this week. FYI, it's a family friendly tailgate too.

          1. God damn EDIT BUTTON

  2. Google's response: "Fuck off, slavers."

    No, really. These guys are advocating actual involuntary servitude.

    1. I noticed that too. Essentially, Spanish newspaper owners are demanding that Google (as a corporate entity) be enslaved to work for them -- and PAY them for the privilege of being a slave!

  3. How could they possible enforce this? I'm pretty sure they aren't going to send mercs to the Googleplex to take over the servers. What a bunch of chupacabras*.

    *Yes, I know that isn't Spanish Spanish. But it is an apt description.

    1. Speaking of sucking, wouldn't "a bunch of mamavergas" be more apt?

      1. I was going to go with mariposa.

    2. How? By an appeal to EU "community" and "competition" authorities.

      The theory is that the whole of Google's business, in the EU as a whole, is too much money for Google to walk away from, and therefore given the choice between reopening Google News Spain and abandoning all business EU-wide, Google will reopen Google News Spain.

      It's not a bad theory, per se. But given how Google left China, it's not a certain one, either. Google moving all its EU-serving facilities to non-EU locales would be inconvenient, but hardly impossible.

      1. Or, set up shop in 'Google Caribbean', continue to do the same thing you were doing before, and tell the Euros to come sue them.

  4. "We demand you make us relevant and pay us too!"

  5. But I also find it a bit rich that Google claims to not make any money off of Google News. Google uses News (and most of its other services) to get data on their users, and that data is used by the revenue-generating side to tailor ads. To say Google News doesn't make money is like saying the research division of a marketing company doesn't make money. True, I suppose, but it misses the point. If the data that News was generating in Spain was valuable enough, Google would probably have paid the fees and stuck around once all avenues for fighting it were exhausted. Unless they decided they needed to make a stand to stop this type of crap from spreading.

    1. A: The cost of operation was probably absurd compared to the differential from improved tailoring due to that site on its own.

      B: It's bad precedent, and getting bogged down in such a bad circumstance is just stupid.

    2. Here's the deal with Google, that this little contre-temps illustrates:

      No all value is reflected in cash. Those Spanish news sites are now saying, in effect, that's it worth it them just to have the exposure Google gives. They are more than willing to let Google link to their stories for free, if the alternative is no links at all.

      If Google buckles under now, they'll be buried under these fees in every country in the world. Including the US. This can easily be tacked onto the Net Neutrality schtick.

  6. I find this funny b/c the "don't be evil" Google is anything but, and all for the statist cock when they aren't against it.

    Petards, hoisting, all that.

    Regardless, fuck Spain with France's dick. Oh, looks like someone already did.

    1. "I find this funny b/c the "don't be evil" Google is anything but, and all for the statist cock when they aren't against it."

      You're right, this is sort like Musk whining about dealership laws so he can sell his subsidized cars directly.

  7. Nothing says "free press" like a law forcing you to 'print'!
    BTW, how about they simply put up a google news page and leave it empty? I'd love to see the government then tell them what had to be there.

    1. Or just news articles about the government forcing search engines to provide specific services?

    2. I was thinking that instead they should link to only articles about the Spanish government forcing Google to maintain a local Spanish Google News page.

  8. Now, the AEDE wants Spanish and European Union government officials to force Google to keep the local edition of Google News operating.

    And how, exactly, do they intend to enforce this? Do they intend to send armed guards to Google's server rooms and the Bay area? Or is the whole EU willing to switch over to Bing because a second-world nation threw a hissy fit?

    It's good to know that NYC hasn't cornered the market on idiotic men of system.

    1. a second-world nation

      Does Francisco Franco have to choke a bitch?

  9. When you have a goose that lays golden eggs for you, you have guaranteed profits. Only a fool butchers the goose.

    Apparently there are a lot of fools running Spanish newspapers.

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