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News Publishers Don't Understand How The World Works Today

The Verge is reporting that Spanish publishers have succeeded in getting their government to pass a law requiring news aggregators to link to their articles. In terms of stupid decisions it ranks up there with the worst of them.

This comes less than a week since German publishers, who secured a similar ruling, backed down and allowed Google a free license to publish extracts from their news articles.

It appears that those who publish news on the web don't really understand which side their bread is buttered on.

Google's News search tool takes their content to a wider audience, generating more clicks and page views and ultimately more advertising. If Spanish news sites follow the Germans in demanding a licence for republishing extracts from their content, Google will stop listing them in search sites and the drop in traffic will hurt them significantly more than they understand.

For news producers, as for the music industry, the world has changed. The democratisation of the content creation process means that print and broadcast media don't have the exclusive ability to generate and control the news. Monetising the content creation business is difficult and the returns will be lower than in the 'good old days'. It can be done, and done well - but only if you're prepared to play by twenty-first century rules.

The Spanish - as with the German - publishers didn't understand this and it is for this reason, not Google, that they struggle in the modern marketplace. Perhaps they should spend some time studying the successful models of British publishers who have turned, for example, the Guardian and Daily Mail websites into steady income streams.

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