Two years ago, Techdirt wrote about an industry study of Spain’s “Google tax”, which requires a Web site to pay for sending traffic to publishers when it quotes snippets of their texts. Just as everyone who actually understands the Internet predicted, Spain’s new law had adisastrous effect on the publishing industry there, especially on smaller companies. Despite that unequivocal evidence, the law is still in place, and it’s a further sign of how pointless it is that only now has the Spanish Center for Reprographic Rights (Cedro) finally managed to sign up its first deal with a news aggregator, called Upday
( original in Spanish
). Cedro is claiming that this “pioneering” move possesses a “strategic importance” because it recognizes the rights of those whose publications appear elsewhere as snippets.
The fact that it has taken so long to find anyone willing to accept that point is bad enough, but it gets worse. Upday operates across Europe, and was launched in Spain at the beginning of March this year. It turns out to be a partnership between Axel Springer and Samsung
. As Techdirt readers may recall, the giant publishing group Axel Springer is one of the biggest supporters of the Google tax in Germany. Initially, it tried to take a hard line against the US search company. But Axel Springer was soon forced to back down humiliatingly and offer Google a free license to post snippets from its publications. A two-week experiment without search engine leads caused Web traffic to Axel Springer’s sites toplunge.
So, far from being a “pioneering” move that validates the whole snippet tax approach in Spain, Upday’s deal with Cedro is simply a key German supporter of this daft idea trying to give the impression that the moribund Spanish Google tax is still twitching somewhat. It’s pretty clear why Axel Springer and Cedro would be keen to do that now, after years of nothing happening in Spain. The European Union is currently revising the main EU Copyright Directive
. Article 11 of the proposed text is an EU-wide version of the snippet tax
, despite the fact that the idea has failed miserably everywhere that it has been tried. The agreement between Upday and Cedro will presumably be used as “evidence” that the Google tax is “working” in Spain. The fact that it is a “circular” deal between German and Spanish supporters of the idea proves the exact contrary.