The European Union is in the process of finalising new copyright rules which could see Google pull its News service in Europe. The details have yet to be finalised but currently Article 11 would require aggregators like Google to pay when an article ‘snippet’ is featured. You’d think that there are ways around this for Google, but going by past behaviour, this could mean the death of Google News in Europe.
In 2014, the Spanish newspaper publishers’ association (AEDE) lobbied for a new law which would require news aggregators to pay for the right to use story snippets. Rather than amending the delivery of news articles, for example adding adverts in Google News to cover costs or not featuring a full snippet, Google shut down Google News in Spain. This has lead the industry to question how important Google News is to Google. Given that Google doesn’t make money from the service, removing it in Europe won’t lead to a financial hit, simply disappointment from users.
Assuming then that Google removes Google News in Europe, the impact to marketing and communication professionals will be huge. Google News is an invaluable tool to follow hot topics, track the development of stories and to be informed when firms are looking to add their view to a topic. Sure there will be ways around it, but it will impact the speed and quality of story development.
It is also wrong to assume that publishers will simply gain from these new rules. Many publishers that rely on traffic from Google will lose eyeballs, and lost eyeballs is lost revenue. A study in 2017 by the Spanish Association of Publishers of Periodical Publications found that the Spanish law caused publishers to lose 13% of their web traffic, resulting in a nine million Euro loss. A ruling that aims to help could end up hindering publishers, particularly the smaller players.
There are commentators in the media industry who are convinced Google will come up with a solution. I wish I was as optimistic as them! One for PR and marketing professionals to watch closely.
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