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REWIND: International Business News #97

Posted on December 11th, 2014

This week, in the REWIND of international business news, we discuss Sweden raiding a popular file sharing site, Spain introducing a ‘Google Tax’, and Uber’s growth challenges.

Sweden captures pirates, but fails to sink their ship.

Authorities in Stockholm raided the servers of Pirate Bay, one of the world’s most popular file sharing sites, and successfully took the service offline this week.  Anti-piracy advocates expressed concern, however, that file sharing sites like Pirate Bay, which had facilitated the sharing of pirated software, music, movies and other electronic media for 11 years, have changed consumers’ behavior.  These sites have arguably created an entire generation of consumers that expects to have access to electronic media without cost.  Despite laws prohibiting the distribution of copyrighted material, this sense of entitlement to free media leads otherwise law abiding citizens to enjoy free media without remorse.

In search of protection for local publications, Spain introduces a ‘Google Tax’ that might reduce the traffic directed to such publications.

A new intellectual property law will be introduced in Spain that will permit Spanish publishers to charge aggregators like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications.  Publishers in Germany quickly discovered the value of Google News after a similar law led traffic to German publishers’ sites to plunge.  As we highlighted in a previous post, Google has been under scrutiny in the EU.  While Spanish publishers might later advocate against these restrictions if they experience a similar fate as their German counterparts, for now, this evidences further challenges for the search giant on the horizon.

‘Ubermentum’ hits speed bumps.

We previously chronicled potential trouble for Uber as it continues to rapidly expand to additional cities around the world.  Uber’s continued rapid growth has been met with an increasing number of legal challenges.  From Judges in Spain banning Uber from operating in the country, to heightened scrutiny of Uber’s checks on drivers following allegations of sexual assault against an Uber driver in New Delhi, it appears that some of the ‘Ubermentum’ is fading.  But a recent $1.2 billion funding round at a $40 billion valuation is evidence that investors still see growth potential.  That will certainly help the company overcome regulatory hurdles.