Oh Those Spaniards


I have mentioned many times that Google is seen as public enemy #1 in many parts of the EU.  It personifies American avarice and digital monopoly.  Various EU courts have gone after it and occasionally they win…witness the recent goofy “right to be forgotten” hoopla. If there is any industry which has suffered at the hands of the digital revolution it’s the newspapers. They have fallen from mighty powerhouses of influence and money to business scratching out a living on the margins of the new digital world.  Understandably they hate Google News more than almost anyone. From their point of view Google takes the content they wrote and deserves it up on a site which they don’t get paid for. Of course as soon as a Google news reader wants to read more than just the snippet published on Google they have to click through and that drives a ton of readers (and thus revenue) to the news site.  A few years back the German government pass laws which essentially required that Google pay news publishers if they link to their content. Google responded by requiring that publishers agree not to pay for being linked to…if they didn’t agree they were out the index. Not surprisingly most signed.

The Spanish government has now passed similar legislation which taxes Google for linking to news sites. The wrinkle here is that they are trying to impose an “inalienable right” clause which they hope will prevent Google from solving this in Spain the way they solved it in Germany. On the face of it this is all very silly.  The newspapers in question can stop Google from indexing them whenever they want by simply deploying a “robots noindex flag” on their sites…and they can lose the traffic which comes their way from Google by doing that.

If the Spanish try to make the weird “inalienable right” clause to trump the German solution (please don’t ask for an explanation of how that works I haven’t got one yet”) then Google could simply dump the Spanish news index entirely….then everyone loses.

This feels a lot like tilting at windmills on the part of the Spanish media dinosaurs who just don’t like the way the digital world turned out. Sadly that ship has sailed…Google does not and will not pay to index your content Señor Publisher, you may hate it and feel it unfair, but that’s the reality and in your heart of hearts you know that you need Google more than Google needs you.

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