In a rather ironic turn of events, some of Spain’s newspaper publishers actually want Google News to come back. This after the search giant announced its withdrawal of Google News service in Spain due to a new law that would require Google to pay publishers a fee for showing a snippet of news, no matter how small or how big. Claiming that it isn’t sustainable for its free and advertisement-clean Google News service, it decided to just pack up and leave, much to the worry of the same publishers pushing for such a law.
This point of contention isn’t exactly news to Google, as it has been facing similar thrusts all across Europe, sometimes with rather amusing consequences, but more sadly with no winner or resolution in sight. Publishers expect some form of monetary compensation for the user of even just snippets from their papers, something that has long been in practice in print media. Internet media, however, is harder to pin down and some European countries have slammed the gavel hard on Google to enforce that practice on the Web as well.
In the case of Spain, Google doesn’t make any revenue from Google News, as there are no ads to make money for it. Having to pay publishers for snippets would then be a financial problem for it. Google found it easier to just close up shop. The Spanish Newspaper Publishers’ Association admits that Google’s announcement isn’t simply just the closure of some insignificant service and that its departure would substantially hurt the industry there, probably not the end result that these publishers were expecting (they were probably expecting to be paid).
In Germany, Google took a different approach and still “won”. Google complied with local laws that only allowed it to publish headlines instead of including snippets. Axel Springer, Germany’s largest news publisher, immediately saw their Internet traffic plummet. Before it fell to its doom, Springer reinstated Google’s ability to publish their news snippets, conceding that Google’s absence would have far worse consequences. But in the same breath, it also cautions lawmakers that this is just one proof of the almost unbounded powers that Google possesses.
That’s not to say that Google is in the right and that news publishers just give up their cause. This recent incident only serves to prove that the tactics that publishers and lawmakers have taken aren’t as effective or as straightforward as they might have presumed, that they cannot simply just take practices used in print media and expect it to work online. Perhaps it does also show how much power and influence Google has, but fighting the giant this way is probably not the best strategy.