Blog Post

Love-Hate Relationship Between Spanish Publishers & Google News


Once again, there was a challenge in Europe (particularly in Spain) that concerned publishers and Google News. In Spain, there was recent legislation saying that Google could no longer aggregate news publications, leading to Google simply removing all Spanish publishers from their Google News product entirely. Watch this Daily Brown Bag to learn more about this love-hate relationship over in Europe (in this case, involving Spanish publishers) and its impact on the Google News product.

Also available on YouTube.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello, and welcome to The Daily Brown Bag. Today we’re going to be talking about Google News in Spain. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Hey, good afternoon, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. We’ve been covering Google and the various legislative actions that have been happening in Europe for quite a while, Chad. It seems like Europe has been on the forefront in challenging some of Google’s power in the marketplace, seeing them as somewhat monopolistic and as encroaching on people’s rights. We covered a while ago the desire for some people to be forgotten and how Europe is taking that on and trying to give some people control -- things that I think we mostly agree would just not happen in the U.S.

Well, the latest chapter in this story is around Google News, particularly in Spain. The backdrop here, as we’ve been talking about for a long time… years, really, is that traditional news outlets have really been struggling to adapt to this new internet-based publishing model. The old days of papers delivered to your doorstep with subscriptions are, of course, dying, if not mostly dead. Google, of course, has stepped in to become the source (Twitter as well, some other outlets, but really Google), the main source people go to as their rolodex. Once again, we have a challenge in Europe -- this legislation happening in Spain, where they’re starting to say you cannot use this content in your Google News product. This love-hate relationship over in Europe just seems to get more and more interesting, Chad. As we know the publishers despise Google, but at the same time need Google because that’s how they’re getting their readers. Google, of course, needs high quality content to put on their search engines so they can drive revenue from ads. So, in reaction to this legislation coming out of Spain, saying, “Google, you’re no longer allowed to aggregate” -- and I don’t think they specifically targeted Google; they just said the aggregators in general, but I do think that the backdrop is to focus on Google -- Google has called their bluff and said, “Fine. We’ll discontinue Google News in Spain.” And they’re going to take it down, remove all Spain publishers from their Google News product entirely, and they will not show up in the results. So this big move is happening, Chad. What can you tell us about why this is so important?

Well, yeah, the legislation specifically said -- it wasn’t so much they said that Google couldn’t show news publications; it said that Google had to pay the publishers if it was aggregating their content, so it had to essentially pay them some revenue for using their information. In this particular case, Google said, “Look, we don’t make money off of this. Therefore, we’re not going to pay. We’re just going to simply remove these Spanish publishers.” Now, of course, a lot of people say Google, of course, makes money off of it. Maybe not directly, but by having such great content in Google, they can sell advertising in a lot of different ways, and, of course, make a lot of money from advertising, just not maybe directly off of their Google News product. But it’s a critical part of Google overall. I think that, really, the difference here and why it’s happening in Spain and not some of the rest of Europe is that Spain has said there is no waiver, so a publisher cannot waive their right to be paid for content, they must be paid. That seems kind of crazy -- because it seems like people should always be able to waive and structure some deal -- but, in this case, they said no, probably to stand up to some of these publishers like Google, who have a lot of power. That’s why this has come to bear here in Spain.

Now, the AEDE, which is the Spanish newspaper publishing association, is now urging Google to change its mind. They were, of course, a very big part of the people who actually passed this legislation in the first place, but now that Google has called their bluff, they’re looking to work with the government to give publishers some way to opt out and still keep their publications in the Google News feed. I think that this is going to continue to roll out in Europe. It definitely seems to be shut down for the most part in the U.S. Google has done a very good job from a lobbying standpoint. For whatever reason, Google in Europe -- and we’ve heard this many times -- actually has a bigger percentage of the market and is even a bigger force, and, of course, as a U.S. company with such a large influence in Europe, it’s really rubbing the European legislators the wrong way. We’ll see what happens here. This could be just a power play, or it could be the beginning of some big changes in the way that people are doing business in Europe.

Yeah, Chad, I find it fascinating. I think it’s up there with the case around being forgotten out of the search engine, challenging the permanence -- again, ultimately challenging the power and potentially monopolistic position that Google’s in. This one is challenging the sort of implicit relationship between a free internet, but an advertising-driven internet isn’t exactly free, and who’s benefiting from that? We’ve been tracking that shifting dramatically over the last five to seven years. This is going to continue to be very fascinating. It seems like Europe is going to continue to be the hotbed where this stuff starts and legislation starts to challenge. Like you said, we probably won’t see it here in the U.S., not in the foreseeable future, but who knows. Trends do change.

That’s our coverage of the Google News and Spain legislation that’s come out. Very interesting stuff. Thanks for joining us at the Brown Bag. We’d love to see you back real soon for another video. Go ahead and hit subscribe.