Spain has joined Germany in amending its copyright law to impose a licence fee on online aggregators such as Google News when they either post links to or excerpts from copyright material.
The fee will be paid to the Association of Editors of Spanish Dailies, an organisation representing Spanish publishers and reflects a European approach that, rather than providing for broad exceptions, copyright owners should generally be paid when other people use their content.
The new law will come into effect in January 2015, and includes sanctions of up to €600,000 for breaches.
For copyright owners, there is a dilemma here. On the one hand, Google has enormous market power, and has built extremely profitable businesses on the back of other people’s content. Insisting on payment, therefore, would appear appropriate.
On the other had, Google can drive eyeballs to websites so if Google were to refrain from accepting any proposal for a licence fee, a copyright owner may find that their material just doesn’t show up in searches.
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