In a truly dumb move, the German government passed a law prohibiting Google News from publishing any snippets from news sites unless it pays a royalty. Google complied. It now publishes only the headlines and a small photo. No snippets.
Web traffic for one publisher has fallen by 40%. The traffic from Google News fell 80%. The head of the company has admitted that it lost valuable traffic. He screamed that Google is a monopoly that needs to be stopped, but he said he made a mistake for promoting the law.
Spain’s law is worse: not even a headline may be published. Google must pay royalties. So, Google wisely shut down its service. It sent a quiet message: “You want free Web traffic? Get it somewhere else.”
Politicians thought they could legislate big money at Google’s expense. Instead, the beneficiaries of the law will make less money. The voters will get less value.
I visit Google News several times a day. It is a great free service. No one gets hurt. Readers are benefited.
So far, Congress has kept its hands off. Gridlock may keep it this way.