Spain pushes for 'Google tax' to restrict linking. Could it kill Twitter and Facebook there, too?

"Linking is not a crime!," say those opposed to Spain's proposed "Google tax."

"Linking is not a crime!," say those opposed to Spain's proposed "Google tax."

Marilín Gonzalo, an Argentinian blogger and journalist living in Spain, writes in with news about "a terrible bill the Spanish government passed in Congress last week."

All the internet community is against it but it seems we are not being heard, as the mainstream print newspapers stand to benefit from this new law, and won't publish news about it.

The government wants to put a tax on *linking* on the internet. They say that if you want to link to some newspaper's content, you have to pay a tax. The primary targets of this law are Google News and other aggregators.

It would be absurd enough just like that, but the law goes further: they declared it an "inalienable right" so even if I have a blog or a new small digital media publication and I want to let people freely link to my content, I can't opt-out--they are charging the levy, and giving it to the big press media.

It was just the last and only way that the old traditional media companies can get some money from the government, and they strongly lobbied for it. The bill has passed in the Congress where the party in the government has majority (PP, Partido Popular) and it's headed to the Senate, where they have a majority also.

There are many more details and the law goes even further to threaten the right to fair use in digital media. They want to penalize various forms of social media traffic, and some here believe that this is part of a plan to limit the free expression and circulation of information outside of Spain's few big newspapers.

Menéame (a Spanish version of Digg we have here) is talking about leaving the country. Facebook and Twitter could be affected in Spain, too, if the government demands that they also pay the new tax.

We are trying to alert the internet community in other countries, so our voice is heard.

Here are some useful links you may like to look at:

The Story of Spain’s Google Tax

Spain's 'Google tax' could kill Facebook and Twitter

Creadores, editores y medios: no estamos los que somos

La "Tasa Google" costará más de 1000 millones al año a los usuarios españoles

España desconectada

Here's another good article (in Spanish) about the new law: "¿Por qué no solo Menéame, Google News, Twitter o Facebook se verán afectadas por el Canon AEDE?"

Notable Replies

  1. The bill has already pass the Congress, next step is Senate where the Government has also majority, so it's expected to make it. And yes, Google has already said that if they make them pay for Google News, they'll just close Google News in Spain (they don't get money for that service).

  2. I'm just fascinated by the bizarre artifacts around the outer edge of that image.

  3. Google doesn't need to move offices, Spain is part of the European Union and it´s offices are in Ireland. And if they have the just can fire everybody almost for free thanks to the current labour legislation.

    Currently the country is governed by the Popular Party (right wing, christian, neo-liberal, homophobic and chauvinist) with absolute majority in the parliament, but national elections are coming next year and the prospects are bleak for them, they know they will have a hard time on the urns, so they are pushing all kinds of crazy and abusive legislations. They know that, even if they lose to another party or coalition, it will take years to out rule those legislations and that it will become a legal quagmire that will likely end with the government paying astronomical compensations to everyone.

    Even if the government just approve the "Google Tax", Google and other internet companies can sue Spain thru the European Court of Justice. And it looks very likely that Spain, no matter what will have to pay lots of pay-taxer money to everyone, except their citizens. frowning

  4. The evilness of the law being approved is that blacklists won't work. Under this law, all media outlets have an "innalienable right" to be compensated. This compensation is to be handled by a RIAA like entity (CEDRO). Even if you do not want to get compensated, they will go around asking for the compensation in your name. So for Facebook or Twitter to comply with the law properly, they should not allow any links at all to Spanish sites.

  5. I do not understand how they would go about assessing or collecting this tax. It seems a little bit like taxing bad thoughts, or farts.

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