Spain's Google Tax Described As Draconian And A Move Back To 'Middle Ages'

IP Lawyer Says Laws Do Not Embrace Digital Age


David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

New intellectual property (IP) rules in Spain which impose the mandatory requirement on online content aggregators such as Google News to pay for news has been criticised by a leading UK lawyer.

The major IP reforms, which have been referred to by some as the ‘Google Tax’, are due to come into force on 1st January 2015 and will mean that every Spanish publication will have to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications.

The right to payment is inalienable so the publisher will have to charge, whether they want to or not .

Google has reacted to the reforms by announcing that it will shut down its Google News service in Spain to prevent publishers' content from appearing on it.

A number of newspaper publishers have argued that news aggregators infringe on their copyright by creating an online selection of headlines.

Richard Gingras, Head of Google News said: " As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable."

Highlighting that publishers can choose whether or not they want their articles to appear in Google News, he added:

"The vast majority choose to be included for very good reason. Google News creates real value for these publications by driving people to their websites, which in turn helps generate advertising revenues."

Georgie Collins, IP Partner at Irwin Mitchell in London, has described the rules as draconian and has added to other recent criticism which has included the Spanish Competition Authority.

Expert Opinion
Whilst the Spanish Government might have had the intention of protecting news publishers, the effect of this seems to take us back to the middle ages rather than embracing and adapting to our digital age and economy. Whether this will ultimately drive revenue for publishers is debatable.”
Georgie Collins, Partner