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Google News quits Spain in response to new law

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Spanish publishers would prefer that Google pays them for news aggregation, but Google's excluding them instead

Google's increasingly fractious relationship with European regulators is about to claim one of its most significant victims this month; as of December 16th, the Google News service in Spain will be shut down. In an impassioned note on the Google Europe Blog, Richard Gingras, Head of Google News, explains that new legislation taking effect from January 1st will force publishers to charge Google for "even the smallest snippet from their publications," which, he argues, is an untenable situation given that the News service is provided free of charge and without accompanying advertising. Failure to comply with the new copyright law would incur a fine of up to €600,000.

Google's argument is that it already has a good collaborative relationship with local publishers, who are contributing their content to Google News out of their own self-interest. Though Google paints the Spanish lawmakers as acting unilaterally, the intellectual property law that now stands in its way was lobbied for by the same publishers that Google claims it's benefiting with its aggregation.

In order to avoid liability under the new law, Google is both shuttering Google News in Spain and removing Spanish publishers from the other international News sites. It'll certainly leave the web poorer for information, which is Google's primary argument against the imposition, however that's not stopping publishers across Europe and elsewhere from demanding compensation for their contributions to Google's services.