Last week, Spain passed a law that taxes any site that links to articles published by members of Spain’s newspaper association with descriptions of their work.
The law has been nicknamed the “Google Tax” because it specifically targets Google News, as well as other news aggregation systems.
This sounds crazy: Google News, which lists major headlines on a given topic with a line from each piece, is great for publishers because it pushes tons of readers onto their websites.
As Julio Alonso points out on Medium, this law follows the precedent of one passed in Germany. In that case, Google got out of having to pay taxes by de-listing all sites from Google News unless they officially waived their right to a fee. In Spain’s case, the law says it is an “inalienable right” that editors can tax any site that links to their articles, meaning that publishers can’t opt-out and Google can’t use the same strategy it used in Germany.
At this point, it isn’t clear how much compensation Google and others would have to pay out per link, which publishers from Spain’s newspaper association would benefit from the tax, or how cases would be tried. Quartz reports that internet entrepreneurs are up-in-arms because they fear it will stifle innovation.
Spanish Congress passed the law, called Canon AEDE, and it will next have to be passed by the Senate in September.
Spanish newspapers have long argued that Google News takes unfair advantage of them. Google doesn’t make money off ads in Google News, but the search giant is still considered a competitor to local industries that should be treated with caution.
If the law becomes official, Techdirt says Google may ax the Spanish version of Google News entirely.