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Google forced to close Google News Spain after licensing fee hassle

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It’s not getting any easier for Google in Europe. Along with having to deal with the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, as well as moves to have it split into smaller companies, the Web giant says it’s now been forced to shutter its Google News operation in Spain because of a new law that means it’ll have to pay a licensing fee on story links.

Writing about the company’s decision in a blog post published Wednesday, Richard Gingras, head of Google News, said the law, which comes into effect on January 1, means every Spanish publication “has to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not.”

He went on, “As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable.” As a result, Gingras said, Google News Spain will shutter on December 16.

The move is likely to mean a huge drop in traffic for many of the Spanish media outlets that regularly appear on Google’s news site in the country, a situation that could ultimately lead to a climbdown by the Spanish government.

Germany’s largest news publisher, Axel Springer, recently reversed its decision to remove links from Google News after traffic to its websites plummeted. The experiment lasted a mere two weeks.

Following its decision to return to Google News in Germany, Axel Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner admitted his firm would’ve “shot ourselves out of the market” if it had stayed off the site and continued to ask Google U.S. for licensing fees.

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Trevor Mogg
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