'Google tax' approved in Spain, search engines must pay news publishers

Spain is now among the growing number of European countries to pass intellectual property laws that labels search engines and news aggregators, such as Google News, as infringing on copyrights when they link to news stories. The Spanish parliament approved new laws on Thursday, to go into effect on January 1st, 2015, allowing news publishers to charge a fee each time search engines display their content in search results.

It hasn't been decided yet how much news publishers can charge Google and other search giants. Google Spain released a statement saying that it was disappointed with the decision, and that they always try to increase traffic to news sites. But it appears the company wants to remain on good terms with news publishers in the country, as Google says it wants to work to increase their income.

Similar situations have already played out in Germany in France. Only a month ago German publishers argued copyright violations and a loss of revenue because of Google including news in their search results. The search engine's German division answered by removing thumbnail images and summaries, and only showing headlines. In France, Google made nice with publishers by agreeing to help raise income from internet advertising, as well as fund developments in digital publishing.

This probably won't be the last time Google faces such decisions in Europe, as it has become a growing trend across the European Union for publishers to take up claims against the search engine. The EU's incoming digital commissioner has even recently said that he wants to see similar laws in all the countries of the region. Publishers should be careful, however, with Google being the powerhouse that it is, if they up and decide to stop aggregating news altogether, news sites may just lose their top traffic driver.

SOURCE Associated Press/NY Times