Spanish Congress has passed a law, known as the «Google tax», that could result in the use of Facebook and Twitter being outlawed in the country.
Specifically, Madrid passed a reform to the Spanish Intellectual Property Law (LPI) that grants the Spanish News Publishers Association (AEDE) the «inalienable right» to charge a fee for anyone that adds their content.
Experts have begun to analyse the new regulation to see what effect it will have on social networks where users reproduce content with links to the original source.
Known as the «Google tax», the change in the law actually affects more than just the internet giant as it could also be applied to the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
Article 32 of the reform states that «putting at the disposition of the public via electronic service providers or including content or fragments of content» gives the publishers the «inalienable right» to «receive equivalent compensation» for the intellectual property that was reproduced.
Despite being passed into Spanish law, the country’s justice system would still have no right to pass judgment over foreign companies that are outside their jurisdiction.
However, the new regulation would give the Spanish justice system the right to close websites within its national territory. This implies that Facebook or Twitter could be banned within Spain if users posted content that was protected by the LPI.
It’s in this context that social networks already began requesting their Spanish users not to use links to any AEDE content.
Several users already requested that filters be programmed in to block these contents from being posted, while yet others promised to stop using links and begin using screen shots in order to side-step the law.
Christopher Beauchamp, an analyst at IG in the UK was cynical about the law’s enforceability but said there could be serious wider implications.
«You have to wonder how effective this law will be – or whether it’s more of a sop to the news organisations in Spain,» he said.
«However the big worry is if other European countries follow suit – Twitter and others could find themselves shut out of markets just as growth starts to take off.
«Spanish media companies could find themselves more hurt by this law than any others really, especially if Spaniards look to other foreign news sources.»