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Ricardo Galli: «Una rabieta contra Google acabó en una ley que quita hasta el derecho a cita»

  • Ricardo Galli, cofundador de Menéame, detalla las claves de la tasa Google.
  • Asegura que son las pequeñas empresas españolas de enlaces de noticias y no Google las que más se verán afectadas por este impuesto que considera absurdo.
  • Menéame tendrá que irse de España o cerrar.
  • BLOG: Diez consideraciones sobre la tasa Google o Canon AEDE.

El informático y profesor de la UIB Ricardo Galli, más conocido como Gallir en las redes sociales, es cofundador de Menéame, un conocido agregador de noticias español que ahora ve peligrar su futuro a causa de la denominada tasa Google (o Canon AEDE), un canon que se cobrará a páginas de este tipo para después repartirlo entre los medios de comunicación. Galli ha explicado a 20 minutos cuáles son las claves de este polémico impuesto y cómo afectará a multitud de empresas pequeñas que no disponen de los medios de gigantes como Google.


¿Cómo va a afectar la nueva reforma de la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual a agregadores de noticias como Menéame? Se habla mucho de la tasa Google, pero proporcionalmente a los que más perjudicará es a Menéame y webs similares. En el peor de los casos, para Google puede suponer la eliminación de Google News España, que no les afectará en sus ingresos directos y en los indirectos es más que dudoso. El impacto que puede tener en Google es mínimo en relación con el tamaño de la empresa, en cambio a Menéame nos afecta completamente. Quizá tengamos incluso que irnos fuera de España.

¿Sería ésa su primera opción? Si tenemos que pagar un canon por los enlaces, que lo que hace es convertir nuestra actividad en algo casi ilícito, o bien nos vamos a otro país, que probablemente tendría que ser fuera de la Unión Europea —algo complicado por el tema de liberar los datos—, o bien tendríamos que cerrar, porque no podemos pagar. Este canon convierte la actividad de Menéame en algo casi ilícito

¿Cómo afecta este canon a los medios? Muchos lo celebran. Me gustaría entender por qué algunos medios tienen tanto interés en este canon, cuánto piensan que pueden ingresar gracias a él. Se habla de unos cien millones de euros. Tú coge esa cifra y analízala desde dos puntos de vista. En primer lugar, desde la perspectiva de los ingresos totales en la prensa. En ese caso resulta ridículo, ya que el volumen total de negocio de la prensa en España supera un poco los 4.000 millones de euros anuales. ¿Qué suponen entonces esos cien millones?

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The transformative and occasionally disruptive effect of the Internet on traditional news publishing has been widely discussed, and as DisCo has previously covered, some European states are reacting to these changes with a form of tax-and-subsidy system that would benefit domestic news publishers at the expense of mostly foreign Internet services.

logoFrance and Germany have both made efforts in this direction, and in February the Spanish government began considering a similar proposal.  A provision appearing late in the development of Spain’s ongoing reform of its IP laws would subject normal Internet snippets — i.e., quotations — to a special “ancillary” copyright.

The proposed statute appears to impose a compulsory license each time a website provides even a small snippet of a newspaper article.  Curiously, it also subjects the reuse of any photo to permission from the news publisher, whether the photo is protected by copyright or not, once the photo is posted to any “periodically updated” website.  Not only does this sound like an administrative nightmare, it also runs afoul of international copyright norms in several ways.  The long-standing Berne Convention (a) prohibits nations from restricting the right to quote, (b) limits IP protection to expression, not facts, and (c) states that copyrights do not extend to “news of the day.”

By restricting Internet services like search and social media from functioning as they do elsewhere in the world, this proposal also represents a new trade barrier, upending how both the Internet and copyright law ordinarily function.  An IP-based tax on quotations is therefore not only bad policy, but it also appears to violate the EU and Spain’s international free trade commitments.

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The Spanish Google tax, or (twice) the perfect cartel

It is always tempting for firms in sectors in decline to collude. But a cartel may not always be feasible or successful. Sometimes, major competitors have no interest in playing the game (this may be so for various reasons; competitors may have a different cost structure, may be more efficient or use a different technology). The next trick is well known. If private collusion does not work, turn to the State to enforce an official cartel or to (bluntly) eliminate competition from other players. You want a well-functioning and sustainable cartel? Make sure that anti-dumping duties are imposed on your heartless competitors from other parts of the world.

Montebourg, who has become an endless source of competition-related stories, has been quite open (I admit he is very candid, both in the English and the Spanish sense of the word) about his dislike for Free Mobile and has even taken active steps to make its life more difficult. The operator has emerged as a phenomenal maverick, bringing much needed dynamism to the French mobile market. But apparently prices are too low for Monsieur le Ministre’s taste and French consumers, as responsible and forward-looking citizens of the Republic, should pay more for their calls (he has in fact referred to the ‘excesses of low-cost’). Needless to say, the three incumbent mobile operators are not particularly unhappy about the whole deal.

The proposed Google tax in Spain provides yet another example of State-enforced collusion, albeit a more subtle one (which is not difficult given that our dear Arnaud is leading the way in the abovementioned example). Traditional newspapers struggle to survive in Spain. Advertising revenues have been in steep decline for years and media groups are heavily indebted. The solution? Charge Google, which has become the default cash-cow (and access-cow), for the use of non-significant excerpts (which, I would mention in passing, sounds oxymoronic from a copyright law perspective).


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