Late last month Spain passed a controversial law known as the ‘Google Tax’ or tasa Google that will force the American tech giant to pay newspapers in the country a fee every time it links to their stories.
Not surprisingly for legislation the reshapes a fundamental principle of the internet (that anyone can link to anything) the law has proved extremely controversial, with critics attacking it as backwards and dangerously vague. Supporters, however, claim it could save an industry.
The law is technically known as the Canon AEDE (after the organization representing Spain’s largest papers) and states that sites that link to a news article alongside a “meaningful” description will have to pay a fee to the original publisher – a concept that has been the subject of similar, failed, legislation in Germany, Belgium and France.
However, the Spanish law differs by making this fee more than obligation but a ‘inalienable right’ (derecho irrenunciable), one that overrides any concept of ‘fair use’ and that that will be collected by a third party. For critics of the bill however, the worst past is the vagueness of the law’s phrasing, which could allow publishers to exact a fee from pretty much anyone who links to an article – not just papers.
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