Morning Media Newsfeed: Google News Axed in Spain | Sony Execs Apologize for Emails

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Google News to Shut Down in Spain Over ‘Google Tax’ (Mashable)
Google said Thursday it will shut down its Google News service in Spain to prevent publishers’ content from appearing on it — ahead of a new law requiring the Internet search company to pay Spanish news organizations for linked content or snippets of news. NYT / Bits The website, which compiles headlines and summaries of news articles from various sources, will go dark in Spain on Dec. 16. Google plans to shut the site there in protest of the new law. The rules, which come into force in January, do not specify how much Google and others like Yahoo! News would have to pay per article. But they carry a potential one-time $750,000 fine if companies do not comply with the law. WSJ / Digits Google also is removing Spanish publishers from Google News world-wide. Those publications will still show up in general Google searches, but that’s less significant than it appears. That’s because the news “cluster” that appears with many general search results is fed by Google News. So if Spanish publishers are excluded from Google News, they won’t appear in the news cluster of ordinary search results — meaning much less traffic from Google. GigaOM Spain is not the first European country to pass a so-called ancillary copyright law — Germany did so in March 2013 — but Spain’s version is much more heavy-handed. Variety In Germany, the ancillary copyright law, introduced in July after lobbying by VG Media and backed by Axel Springer, obliged Google to pay publishers for news snippet texts on its search engine. After Google News removed the snippets from its search engine, traffic to publishers’ websites fell by 40 percent over two weeks. VG Media was forced to authorize the snippets. Demonstrating Google’s massive market power, Axel Springer CEO Mathias Dopfer dubbed its move to charge for snippets “the most successful failure in our history.”

Sony Film Executives Apologize for Racially Tinged Emails About Obama (NYT)
Embarrassing, racially tinged emails about President Obama’s imagined movie tastes, posted online by hackers and reported by news sites, prompted public apologies on Thursday from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s movie chief and one of its top producers. THR The email exchange, which was part of documents that have been posted after a massive Sony hack, discussed how Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal should handle a meeting with President Obama at a Jeffrey Katzenberg fundraiser. Pascal and producer Scott Rudin appeared to mock movies featuring black casts and the president’s possible interest in them. Rudin suggested that the president might especially like comedian Kevin Hart. Variety “The content of my emails [was] insensitive and inappropriate but [is] not an accurate reflection of who I am,” Pascal said in a statement, adding that “although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.” Deadline Rudin also issued an apology Thursday. “Private emails between friends and colleagues written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity, even when the content of them is meant to be in jest, can result in offense where none was intended,” he said. “I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive — and not funny at all. To anybody I’ve offended, I’m profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused.” TVNewser National Action Network president and MSNBC host Al Sharpton denounced the emails as “offensive” and “insulting,” and revealing of casual racism in Hollywood. “What is most troubling about these statements is that they reflect a continued lack of diversity in positions of power in major Hollywood studios. The statements clearly show how comfortable major studio powers are with racial language and marginalization,” said Sharpton in a statement.