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By Thomas Baekdal - December 2014

Google News Out of Spain: None Shall Pass

For Pete's sake, how many times will European media shoot themselves in the foot before they learn? The latest story is how Spanish publishers have successfully lobbied their Government to create a new copyright law that forces Google to pay a license fee when they link to them. To which Google responded by saying, "F*** you too, we are out of here!".

Yep, European publishers want people to pay for linking.

Now... I could continue this as the most epic rant ever. But while that surely would be entertaining, I'm not sure that it would be helpful. Instead, I will just walk over to this corner of my office and stare at the wallpaper for an hour or so. At least the wallpaper makes more sense.

I will also say this, as an analyst desperately trying to prevent European news publishers from shooting themselves in the foot. Take a day out of your busy schedule lobbying European politicians and just visit a brand. Ask them, how are you convincing more people to buy your products, connect with your brands, and generally just love everything you do?

Are you?

A: Lobbying the government in order to prevent Google and others from linking to you?

B: Paying PR and ad agencies to build SEO, enhance social media, and actively trying to get as many people to link as much as possible, in as many ways as possible?

Once you have finished figuring that one out, visit a few of the digital native publishers and ask them if they are:

A: Trying to protect their homepage traffic by limiting the way people can link?

B: Saying "Forget the homepage, the future growth is coming from sharing?"

So far, we have had a number of cases where EU publishers have done everything they could to destroy European news startups. Mostly by filing several lawsuits against any news startup that tried to rethink the way we consume news. (BAM, there goes a foot)

Okay, granted, a few of these cases were justified (in the cases where they weren't linking but taking the full articles and republishing them). But the end result is the same. The EU media startup scene is in a terrible state.

We have the EU cookie law, which was championed by the press until they realized how bad it was. (BAM, there goes another foot)

We have the 'Right To Be Forgotten'-law, which was also championed by the press, right up until Google started removing links to articles in newspapers. Then the press suddenly woke up. (BAM, there goes an arm)

...and now, by championing copyright laws that prohibits the very essence of why the internet works, i.e. linking. (BAM, there goes another arm)

Actually, there is a very simple way to illustrate this. The old European media companies are behaving exactly like the Black Knight in Monty Python ...and the rest of us is Arthur, King of the Internet.


"None shall pass!" ...not even if it means losing an arm or a leg to protect their past role of being the gatekeeper.

Update: That didn't take long. The Association of Spanish Newspaper Publishers is now trying to get EU involved, and thus force Google to keep Google News alive, arguing that Google controls almost all the searched in Spain.

In other words, they are saying that Google must link to them, and pay for those links. In other words, this is 100% a Google tax dreamed up by the Spanish newspapers.


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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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