Google News going dark in Spain in dispute over 'Google Tax' for news publishers

Google said Thursday it will shut down its Google News service in Spain to prevent publishers' content from appearing on it — ahead of a new law requiring the Internet search company to pay Spanish news organizations for linked content or snippets of news.

The move marks the first time globally that Google Inc. will shutter Google News and comes ahead of a new Spanish intellectual property law going into effect Jan. 1 nicknamed the "Google Tax."

The company's News product for Spain will stop linking content from Spanish publishers and close on Dec. 16, Google said in a statement.

The law did not specify how much publishers would have to be paid by Google. Spain's AEDE group of news publishers lobbied for the law nicknamed the "Google Tax" and Google said publishers would be forced to charge the company "for showing even the smallest snippets of their content — whether they want to charge or not."

"As Google News shows no ads and makes no revenue, this approach is simply unsustainable," Google said.

Google News has long rankled newspaper publishers and other content providers who contend the service tramples on copyrights by creating a digital kiosk of headlines and story snippets gathered from other websites.

Most venting has been limited to criticism likening Google to a freeloader, but there have been attempts to force the company to change its ways through courts.

Google maintains it obeys all copyright laws while sending more people to websites highlighted in its News services. The company also allows publishers to prevent material from being displayed in Google News, an option few websites choose because the service is an important traffic source to sell ads.

After Germany revised copyright laws last year in a way that could have required Google News to make royalty payments, Google required publishers to give consent for summarizing content and most did.

Europe's highest court this year ruled that people have a right to scrub unflattering or outdated information from Google's search engine. That case started in Spain.


Associated Press writer Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this report.