Three sources close to the matter told Reuters that Alphabet’s Google is negotiating with a divided Spanish journalism industry on a personal licensing deal, which may restore the news service of the American technology giant in the country.
Google News, which links to third-party content, was shut down in Spain at the end of 2014 in response to legislation, which meant it had to pay a mandatory collective license fee to republish news headlines or abstracts.
As Spain prepares to implement the 2019 EU Copyright Directive by June, the thorny issue has resurfaced. Although this requires Google, Facebook and other companies to share revenue with publishers, the government can allow companies to negotiate individual deals with content providers.
The Spanish Ministry of Culture said that the government is working on a draft bill, but declined to give more details.
A Google Spain spokesperson said that Google News will return to Spain only if the publisher has the right to sign a personal agreement under the new law. He added that paid licenses are not mandatory.
After preventing Australians from accessing and sharing news and exacerbating planned legal disputes with the Australian government, Facebook was strongly opposed by publishers and politicians last week.
However, EU regulations do not force online platforms to pay for links published by publishers to their news sites. This is Australia’s main dissatisfaction with Facebook, so its implementation can pave the way for a series of transactions.
A source familiar with the process said: “Google is discussing with Spanish editors the possibility of joining the Google News Showcase program.”
Two other sources said that some preliminary agreements had been reached before the details of the new legislation.
Google recently agreed to pay a group of 121 French news publishers 76 million US dollars (approximately 5.5 billion rupees), which angered many other local media, the transaction was considered unfair and opaque.
Some Spanish publishers represented by the AMI Media Association, such as Unidad Editorial, owner of El Mundo, are in favor of maintaining the current system that gives publishers the right to collect licensing fees through collective management entities.
AMI general manager Ramon Alonso (Ramon Alonso) said that the model allows for transparent and fair negotiations with Google and other companies and prevents certain publishers from being excluded.
But others, including CLABE, which represents 162 employees, and about 1,000 news media, including leading digital brands such as El Espanol or Eldiario.es, say they can make better deals on their own and should be free to choose.
CLABE Secretary General Juan Zafra said: “We are working to ensure that these agreements benefit as many companies as possible in this field.”
The Association of Independent Regional Press (AIE), a founding member of AMI, said in a letter published on all of its outlets on Monday that the current model “seriously damaged” the model, which did not generate any revenue from content and made Spain a ” Global number exception”.
At the same time, Microsoft and European media groups on Monday urged EU regulators to require online platforms to seek arbitration over disputes over how to share revenue with news publishers.
Thomson Reuters 2021 ©
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