In October 2014, Spain approved a new Law which became effective as of January 1, 2015, establishing that the so called "News Aggregators" must pay a rate to the Editors due to the reproduction of the "aggregated" journalistic contents. This rate has been popularly known as "Google Rate", in view of the gigantism of the North American Company of the same name, and because it is the owner of one of the most popular Aggregators, the Google News (or Google Notícias, in Brazil).
Contentious since its birth, the need to pay due to the reproduction of journalistic contents has opposed the media companies and the technology companies, leaded by Google.
On one side, Google alleges that the payment of the remuneration would be impracticable, as Google News does not generate revenue and has no advertisements. Furthermore, the News Aggregator would improve the traffic and the access to the contents of the very own sites of the media companies, since the Aggregator merely compiles news from different sources in a single platform, however, upon clicking the link of news, the user is referred to the site of the journal/media company. Ultimately, the Aggregator would increase the traffic of users in the sites wherefrom the contents are reproduced.
On the other side, the journals and media companies argue that the News Aggregators reproduce contents protected by copyright, without the proper remuneration to their authors. Namely, there is no remuneration for the work performed by the authors.
It is a matter of difficult solution and the Spanish Law has not been the first attempt of regulating remuneration for the reproduction of journalistic contents in News Aggregators. France, Belgium and Germany have also discussed with Google about the matter, and these countries reached an agreement with the company on how the reproduction of the journalistic contents would occur. However, insofar as Germany is concerned, early this year, the Editors Association of this country filed a lawsuit against Google aiming that the latter respects copyright provisions and pays the proper rate for the reproduction of contents of the media companies.
In the specific case of Spain, Google´s reply was to the point: removal of the Spanish media companies from Google News, being Spain the first country to have all its journalistic contents removed from the Aggregator. After the implementation of the law, a study requested by the Spanish Editors in 2015 ascertained that the law caused more damage than benefit to the Spanish media companies, especially the smaller ones.
The matter is so much controverted that, in accordance with news advertised in Financial Times at the end of 2015, the European Commission, executive arm of the European Union, will analyze whether the News Aggregators have the obligation to pay for exhibiting portions of journalistic contents. Such a measure is a reply to the controverted relations among the European media companies and the News Aggregators.
As far as Brazil is involved, the Copyright Law (Law 9610/96) also grants to the Editors and authors of "writings published by the press, either daily or periodical", the right to use them economically. Hence, just as it happens in Europe, the Brazilian Editors are also entitled to request remuneration for the use of their journalistic contents by the News Aggregators.
However, having in mind what has happened up thus far in other countries, it is worth considering whether the more advantageous would not be to work in partnership with the News Aggregators in an attempt to reach a compromise for the remuneration for the use of the contents. After all, the absence of news in the Aggregators may involve a negative impact for the traffic of users in the sites, decreasing the accesses and, ipso facto, the revenue for the media companies.
Originally published March 31, 2016
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