TheRegister is running a news story saying that Spanish News Publishers Association (AEDE) scored an own goal with Google withdrawing Google News and will purge all index record for news items originating from Spain.
The Spanish Report has a set of good articles about Google’s move. First thing first, one got to understand the law involved. This article shows how the law evolves the way it did. The conclusion is, with the new Intellectual Property Law coming into effect in the new year, the News Publishers basically got their cake: Any use of news article or photograph, however insignificant, requires payment. Only indexing news articles for the purpose of providing non-commercial search do not requires prior permission and payment. Finally, to counter Google getting any news publisher to agree to permit Google to do the two things for free, which Google did rather successfully in Germany after similar law was passed, no news publisher is permitted to opt out.
After getting their cake signed, sealed and delivered, they expect Google to come back and negotiate payment for Google News and for search indexing. They deem, not unreasonably, that it is only a remote chance that Google will decide to abandon Spanish News completely. They hope, after considering the scenario, Google will decide it has less to lose by coming back to the negotiation table and sign a deal that it has been fighting very hard to not sign it.
Unfortunately, Google obviously believe that it is better business decision for it to stick to its gun and ceases News gathering in Spain. I believe it is the right decision for Google as a company. AEDE will not be surprised because it should already seen the writing on the walls when Google did not come running.
What this means is, having got their cake, AEDE found it hard to swallow.
Google is throwing down the gauntlet. It opined that Spanish News Publishers will find they lose more than they gain with Google withdrawing its News Service. Perhaps most importantly for Google, it cannot back down for the fear of copycat legislation. It needs to send a message: News publishers living in countries smaller than Spain take note, I won’t pay.
Google is more or less proven right. In doing so, it not only AEDE on the wrong foot, it turned the table around. The latter finds that it has to activate its backup plan, i.e. appealing to Spanish Government to stop Google from leaving them behind.
Will it works? As far as stopping Google from leaving them _completely_, possibly. Especially if Spanish Government choose to intervene. It’s statement, as carried at the end of this article, says that it believe the purpose of law establishes the basis for negotiation between interested party, and there are other outlets for news besides Google. The first part says that it is not my problem and it is up to the players to come to a agreement/compromise. The subtext of the second part is I am not taking side in this debate. This is also known as a box-standard government response. I, however, think the Spanish Government will intervene. It will be difficult to enact a law saying Google cannot withdraw. What the Spanish Government will opt to, is to mediate between the two parties. The irony here is AEDE finally got the meeting it wants, the only different here is advantage Google, not advantage AEDE.
I do really want to see what compromise the mediator can come up with. The law is so tightly written that there is little room to maneuver. It will take a rather long time, after assuming the law that modify this one is fast track, to loosen this law. Wordsmiths, a.k.a. lawyers, will be looking at what they can do with the remuneration package for publisher.
I believe Google will return to the Spanish News scene. Only thing is, I cannot tell you when.