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Google News says, 'Adios!'

| Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, 8:54 p.m.

MADRID — Google is locking Spanish publishers out of its popular Google News service in response to a new Spanish law that imposes fees for linking to the headlines and news stories on other websites.

The move announced Thursday will reverberate around the globe. Besides closing Google News in Spain, Google will block reports from Spanish publishers in about 70 international editions packaged by Google News.

Google News' exile of Spanish publishers will begin Tuesday, a couple of weeks before the start of a Spanish intellectual-property law requiring news publishers to be paid for their content, even if they are willing to give it away.

That means people in Latin America, where Spanish news organizations have sought to boost their digital audiences, won't see news from Spain via Google News. Also set to disappear are reports in English from Spanish publishers such as El Pais, Madrid's leading newspaper.

People who use Google's standard search in Spain and anywhere else around the world will be able to find articles on their own from Spanish publications, because the law applies only to aggregators and not to individuals who do their own searches outside of Google News.

But the lost access to Google News will likely make it more difficult for people to keep abreast on what it is happening in Spain because they will have to know what to look for instead of having the top stories sorted for them.

Spanish publishers are likely to lose a valuable source of traffic to their websites.

In November, Germany's biggest news publisher, Axel Springer, scrapped a move to block Google from running snippets of articles from its newspapers, saying that the experiment had caused traffic to its sites to plunge.

“It is hard to see what value this has achieved for the press in Spain or for Spanish (and Spanish speaking) Internet users,” Jeremy Malcolm, an analyst for digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in a blog post.

This marks the first shutdown of Google News since the service debuted as an experimental project in 2002.

Richard Gingras, head of Google News, said the decision was made “with real sadness” because Google News is “a service that hundreds of millions of users love and trust, including many here in Spain.”

Spain's press association had lobbied for the law nicknamed the “Google Tax” to “effectively protect the rights of citizens and businesses.”

Spain's Ministry of Culture, which helped draft the new rules, said in a statement that Google's choosing to close its local news aggregator was a ‘‘business decision'' separate from the country's legal process, and that news and other information would still be freely available on the Internet.

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