CyberTech Rambler

December 31, 2014

D-day tomorrow for Spanish Publishers

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 4:52 pm

Since Google shut down its Spanish News Services, a few news websites had been sizing up its implication. In particular, behind the headlines, what will Google do, or more importantly, not do.

As I do not speak Spanish, I do not know what the law actually says. Initially, there were news article suggesting that even the “general search index” cannot show news snippet without payment. Plausible. A more sensible view is only search index specializing on news, i.e. news site, is affected. Google’s original blogpost announcing the closure did not talk about the general search index, lending weight to the general search index not affected. However, it could simply be a negotiating tactics or to signal that they are willing to negotiate.

After the shutdown, the net is full with news that you can still get the articles from the General Search Site and in particular, on the last day of 2014, I can still see the Spanish equivalent of “News” search on the General Search Site. Whether this will stay on after the law goes into effect, we have to wait and see.

So, tomorrow is D-day, as this is the reported date that the new law will take effect. I fully expects Google to respect the law and have no reason to think they will not. Its lawyers would had looked into the law with a fine-tooth comb, spelling out to it what it and cannot do. However, I have to warn that it is not necessarily reflected in what Google does in the sense that it can choose to shut down/disable more things than the law requires. I will say it will not be wise for Google to do this, but do appreciate that it needs to save some bargaining chips.

Immediately after the closure of Google News, statistics companies says that external traffic to Spanish News Site drops. That is only to be expected. In fact, all parties expected this. The question is what is the new equilibrium after the effect of this initial drop fades as users find new ways to access Spanish news. Note that unlike other attempts at similar law where publishers can opt out by giving Google free access, this Spanish law does not allow opt out, forcing every publishers in Spain on to the same boat. This introduces a different type of dynamics. It is possible that they will be satisfied, or be forced to live with, this new equilibrium.

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