Spain recently passed new copyright licensing regulations requiring Google and other Internet companies such as Yahoo! (YHOO) to pay for aggregated content. Under the new Spanish regulations, which have become known as the "Google Tax," fines up to nearly $750,000 could be assessed for posting links and news story excerpts considered to be pirated content.
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Google was not amused. Like the kid who doesn't get chosen to play the game and takes his ball home, the world's largest search engine said it will shut down Google News in Spain on Dec. 16 and also will not carry Spanish media outlets on Google News.
Since people can continue to access directly publisher sites, the Spanish example probably mostly hurts smaller companies with less brand recognition, according to online news innovator and media analyst Jeff Jarvis. Larger media companies will continue to get clicks due to their overall brand recognition, analysts say. Google itself will likely not be hurt since media companies still need Google News to drive traffic to their sites, even if they sometimes feel Google is stealing their content.
European Union legislators last month passed a non-binding vote urging the European Commission to require search engines to spin off their news-bot aggregation operations. The EU also is investigating Google's news practices for antitrust transgressions.
Germany implemented a law similar to Spain's in October, but German publishers reached an agreement to work with Google two weeks later after they saw page views plummet following Google pulling the plug on its content aggregation.
Google also faced similar challenges in France and Belgium but reached an agreement to create a $74 million fund to aid French publishers in their digital performance.