Google News to relaunch in Spain after mandatory payments to newspapers scrapped

From The Verge: Who should get paid when big tech platforms aggregate news stories? This was the question that prompted Google to shut down its Google News platform in Spain in 2014, after the country decided the US tech giant should cough up a monthly fee to Spanish papers. Today, though, Google announced that Google News will return to Spain “early next year” after the country overhauled its online copyright laws in line with EU regulation.

The big difference from Google’s point of view is that it no longer has to pay a fee to Spain’s entire media industry and can instead negotiate fees with individual publishers. Some may want to charge Google for sharing stories in Google News, and Google can pay them or exclude them, depending on its preference. Other outlets will no doubt waive these fees, judging that the traffic offered by Google News outweighs any lost advertising revenue.

Google says it’ll be working in the coming months with publishers “to reach agreements which cover their rights under the new law.” But just try to guess which side of the bargaining table will have the upper hand. Will it be lone newspaper outlets, struggling against plummeting revenues and industry-wide change? Or will it be the international megacorp that’s one of the most profitable companies in the world? Anyone?

Really, though, the return of Google News to Spain is just a single skirmish in a long running battle between Europe’s media industry and Big Tech. The former complains that the internet has undermined its business model, and that profits from this new economy have been hoovered up by Google and its kin. The latter reply, “oh well, yeah, I guess so, sorry about that,” and throw some of their megabucks at various “sustainable journalism” initiatives. It’s not exactly been a happy solution, particularly for media companies.

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