Is there such a thing as life without Google? Possibly not, for most of us, but it may still be possible to exist on our increasingly connected planet if one is deprived of one little bit of Google -- even though life may not be quite the same. In this guest post, Spanish IP enthusiast Míchel Olmedo Cuevas explains how humanity has fared in Spain, a month after the withdrawal there of Google News service. Writes Míchel:
As Eleonora Rosati reported in early December here, Google stopped offering its news aggregation services (“Google News”) in Spain after the Spanish Parliament passed a bill reforming the current Intellectual Property Act 1/1996 which included a new provision on the regulation of snippets in Spain [You can see the updated version of the Act in Spanish here and the modifying bill in Spanish here. A brief review on the implications of the reform can be found here].
This reform was met with heavy criticism from all aggregators, and resulted in a swift reaction from Google that it would stop offering its aggregation services on 16 December. So, how is this situation affecting the Spanish media?
First, what has actually stopped is the aggregation service. It is however still possible to find news results. This means that, just as happened in Germany, Google no longer shows news snippets —but it doesn’t exclude the Spanish media from its results, so the user can filter these results as news as well.
Here, we can see what the result of a German News search for bayern münchen looked like after the German Law was amended:
The results indicated the red arrows are those of the media represented by VG-Media which had, at least at the time, refused to be indexed by Google (even though, since then, many editors have opted out from the system, such as Axel Springer).
Now, here we can see what a search result for podemos españa in the news section looks like in Google News Spain today:
And here we have the very same result, but done through Google Italy:
So, visually, one can see that there is a significant difference in the results. This variation doesn’t only affect the results; it also affects the amount of traffic these sites generate. According to the media themselves, there has been a marginal impact on their results, while other sources talk about a 10% to 15% decrease in their visits in just the very first hours of de-indexation. Official data from Comscore regarding traffic in December will be released in February, when I shall follow up this story and evaluate how this measure has affected the Spanish media. At first glance, though, everything indicates that Spain might follow the steps of other countries and modify (if not abolish) this provision in its next Intellectual Property Act reform, expected early next year (if not earlier).