Editor’s note: ¡Alegria! had a near-death experience. Or so it seemed. New Spanish intellectual property rights legislation (the “Google tax”) imposes fines up to 600,000 euros for publishing excerpts from Spanish media online without compensating the original publisher.
This law came into effect on January 1, eight days ago, and it looked like the end for ¡Alegria! The Joy of Spanish Living. Because that’s mainly what we do. We curate and aggregate Spanish-related news and features, publishing quotes from the media then linking to the full stories online. We were close to deciding to close up shop when the youngest, least-experienced member of our team said: “Wait! That law only applies to the Spanish media, and only a small part of our content comes from Spanish publications. So all we have to do is cut out those articles and continue to march. That’s what Google did, eliminate the Spanish media from Google News.”
Here at ¡Alegria! we think that Spanish legislators, perhaps with an imperfect understanding of the Internet, have made a mistake with the new law, which was enacted with the sole votes of the right-wing Popular Party. We think the media worldwide have a symbiotic relationship with Google News and all the other search engines and news aggregators, insofar as it is these services that channel a great deal of traffic to the online media’s own sites.
Ironically, Google News generates no profit for Google. It’s a free service. And Spanish publishing interests–including some that originally lobbied for restrictive news-aggregation legislation–are beginning to recognize that they, themselves, are the principal beneficiaries of Internet freedom to quote and link and are now suggesting that perhaps the government should “remodel” the new law.
Here’s The Guardian’s coverage of the announcement of the new law: Spain moves to protect domestic media with new ‘Google tax’
Read a comprehensive article on the issue worldwide from Forbes.com: What Google’s International Pullouts Mean For The Search World