Cabinet approves “Google tax” on use of copyrighted material

Measure included in reform of Intellectual Property Law

The Spanish Cabinet on Friday approved a draft reform of the Intellectual Property Law, which includes a so-called “Google tax” on the use of fragments of “information, opinion and entertainment” grouped together, for example, on search engines.

Presented by Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Education and Culture Minister José Ignacio Wert, the reform allows the reproduction of such “non-significant fragments” without prior authorization but requires the payment of “equitable compensation” for doing so, Wert explained. Prior authorization will still be required for the use of photographs. Such a tax already exists in Germany and France.

Wert did not say how “non-significant fragments” would be defined nor how much compensation would be involved.

“This is the most important step taken by the Spanish government for the protection of the press,” said Luis Enrique, the chairman of the AEDE association of editors of Spanish newspapers.

Another innovation is the establishment of a one-stop-shop for users of material that is copyrighted, whether radio, television or press-related, which would be privately run but monitored by the CNMC anti-trust watchdog.

Wert said under the proposed reform, not only websites hosting illegal content, but also those that redirect users to such sites will be prosecuted. Both advertisers and intermediary payment agents may be fined for doing so. Search engines will also be monitored to check if they host illegal links. “Spain cannot be Somalia in issues of intellectual piracy,” Wert said.

The reform incorporates European Union directives extending the copyright period from 50 years to 70 years for recorded music. The copyright period for other copyrighted material was already set at 70 years in 1987.

Wert said the number of websites intervened by the intellectual property commission since the introduction of the so-called Sinde Law, named after former Culture Minister Ángeles González-Sinde, at the end of 2011 is 152, with 21 of them closing down.

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