Traditional media and governments don’t seem to understand tech.
This year, German media outlets cried “foul” on Google for excerpting their stories in search results. You know, the results that point people back to the original story. They wanted Google to PAY for these excerpts.
Google stopped showing these results, and the traffic at these media outlets TANKED. Of course they did. So they begged to have their content excerpted again.
Now Spain is in the act, instituting a tax on Google for excerpts on its News search results. Google just announced that they will be pulling the results rather than paying the tax. I think we know what comes next.
With a move this boneheaded, some are speculating that surely there must be a reason for a law this idiotic. Is it a gift from the government to print media ahead of upcoming elections?
I personally vote for the far simpler “Idiots Interpretation.” Remember that this was also the year that France instituted the “Anti-Amazon Law.” This made it illegal to discount books and ship them for free. Amazon, which offered free shipping prior to the law, promptly began shipping books for ONE CENT.
Old Media and the Old World are united in the fight against progress and technology. If you think this is about preserving an old way of life, I would argue instead that it’s about preserving established channels of money-flow.
In similar vein, Spain has also shut down Uber, the popular ride-hailing company. A judge reached this decision after complaint from the Madrid Taxi Association, citing “unfair competition.” As in: Too convenient to use and not expensive enough.
In my trade, the fight is with Amazon, which has made reading more affordable and more accessible for readers — and more lucrative and more egalitarian for writers. And we see how vehemently the old guard has reacted to all of that.
The problem going forward is that those happy with progress are quietly enjoying its benefits, while those unhappy are lobbying politicians to keep things the way they were (which is to benefit inefficient players at some cost to consumers). I argue that we, as happy progressives, need to be aware of these issues and do more than simply vote with our wallets. We need to mock those enacting bone-headed laws and ridiculous taxes. We should mock those who are appealing to courts rather than appealing to customers. We need to point and laugh. Laugh until we cry.