Last year, German legislation was pushed through that prevented search engines, like Google, from posting snippets of news articles alongside search results without permission. Until recently, most publications have chosen to leave the search results alone. A consortium of 200 publications ran a two week experiment by preventing Google from showing the snippets; and saw readership plummet by 40-percent.
Europe and the world’s largest search engine have been at odds for the last few years due to an anti-trust investigation and monopoly concerns. The US firm accounts for some 80-percent of the search engine market in Europe, and the percentage is much higher in more developed countries like Germany.
Germany’s biggest publisher, Axel Springer, said that preventing Google from showing article snippets would have shot them out of the market. Springer is not small by any stretch of the imagination, as it publishes Bild.de – the most read news site in the country – and that still saw an 80-percent drop in clicks coming from Google News.
Spain has recently passed legislation that would similarly limit Google’s ability to post content alongside search results by forcing the search engine to pay a fee for every search conducted. Of course, Google could still decide that it would rather not pay the fee and remove article snippets. If Germany is any indication, it might be worse off for any publishing industry that tries to prevent Google from doing what it does.