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Google News to shut in Spain ahead of new publisher rights law

People pose with laptops in front of projection of Google logo in this picture illustration taken in Zenica

Google said it was closing its news-linking service in Spain next week due to new legislation under which publishers can charge search engines for using their content.

In a statement, the global Internet search giant said the new law makes the Google News service unsustainable and that, “with real sadness”, it will remove Spanish publishers from Google News and shut down its service in Spain on 16 December.

“The new law requires publishers to charge Google News for showing even the smallest snippets of their content — whether they want to charge or not, ” the company said. Google News shows no advertising and makes no revenue from the service, it noted.

Publishers in countries from Germany and France to Spain have pushed to pass new national copyright laws that force Google and other web aggregators to pay licensing fees when they publish snippets of their news articles.

These laws require publishers who want their content to continue to show up in Google search results to give the company explicit permission to do so.

Google has responded by requiring publishers to release it from any liability for licensing fees under such laws.

The Spanish law thwarts this move by Google by giving publishers an “inalienable” right to levy such licensing fees. It is set to go into effect in January.

However, in November, Germany’s largest publisher, Axel Springer scrapped a bid to block Google under its law after an experiment by VG Media, a consortium of about 200 German publishers, including Springer, caused traffic to online publications to plunge.

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