On Thursday, Spain passed its much-discussed Intellectual Property Law – its own version of Germany’s so called ‘Google Tax’ legislation.
As told by The Hollywood Reporter, the new law will allow for fines of up to around £468,000 (€600,000) to be applied to aggregators that show snippets of pirated content.
Under the definition of the Intellectual Property Law – also known as the LPI – any aggregator that publishes copyrighted content qualifies for sanctions, including Google News
Like Germany’s precedent-setting “ancillary copyright law”, Spain’s new tax has met with criticism, with some quarters seeing it as a calculated move by publishers to profit off the back of Google News.
Writing for Search Engine Land, Greg Sterling called the LPI ‘misguided’, and reported that the law was put together by AEDE, a Spanish newspaper group, “under the ostensible notion of protecting copyright owners against online piracy”.
He also suggested the Spanish government had “[duplicated] the mistake” Germany made, writing: “Because the Spanish and German cases are almost identical what happened in Germany is instructive and probably predictive for Spain.”
Germany’s ‘Google tax’ law was passed in 2013, and quickly escalated into a legal tangle. For protection against liability, Google asked publishers to explicitly opt in to be featured in Google News results. Publishers responded by filing an antitrust complaint – as Search Engine Land reported: “[Publishers argued] they were effectively forced by Google to waive their copyrights.”
After its difficulties in Germany, it’s perhaps not surprising that Google has given a less-than-enthusiastic response to the Spanish government’s decision. As reported by The Hollywood reporter, the search giant issued the following statement: “We are disappointed with the new law because we believe that services like Google News help publishers bring traffic to their sites.
“As far as the future is concerned, we will continue working with the Spanish publishers to help increase their revenues while we evaluate our options within the framework of the new legislation.”
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