Google said it will block reports from Spanish publishers from its Google News international editions, which number more than 70, in addition to the Spain shutdown on Dec. 16 — several weeks before a new Spanish intellectual property law takes effect on Jan 1.
That means people in Latin America where Spanish news organizations have sought to boost audiences won't see their news via Google News in Mexico and elsewhere. Also set to disappear are reports in English from Spanish publishers like the leading El Pais newspaper.
Spain's AEDE association, which represents large news publishers, lobbied for the law nicknamed the "GoogleTax" and declined comment on Google Inc.'s decision, which is the first shutdown since Google News was launched in 2006.
The law did not specify how much publishers would have to be paid by Google, but the company said Spain's law is much stricter than similar legislation enacted elsewhere because it mandates payments "for showing even the smallest snippets of their content — whether they want to charge or not." Google News doesn't generate revenue or show ads.
Google News has long-irked 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 the courts.
Google maintains it obeys all copyright laws while sending more people to websites highlighted in its Newsservices. 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.
Alejandro Tourino, a Madrid-based lawyer who specializes in media issues and has worked for The Associated Press on several legal cases, said Spanish news publishers may "have shot themselves out of the market. Time will tell."
After Germany revised copyright laws last year in a way that allowed, but did not force Google News to make royalty payments, Google required publishers to give consent for summarizing content and most did.
Google last year agreed to help French news organizations increase online advertising revenue and fund digital publishing innovations to settle a dispute over whether it should pay for news content in its search results.
Google also had to respond to a ruling this year from Europe's highest court that people have a right to scrub unflattering or outdated information from Google's search engine. That case started in Spain.