European publishers’ associations and Microsoft have called for a mechanism to be introduced in Europe to force Big Techs to pay for news content shared on their platforms, following the example of Australia.
The request comes as the Australian Parliament is passing a bill on just this. The associations of European publishers (Emma, Enpa, Epc, Nme) and the IT company founded by Bill Gates have agreed to work together on a solution to guarantee the publishing industry a fair remuneration for the news content that the giants of the web use on their platforms by increasing their traffic and advertising revenue.
According to EU publishers, copyright legislation, which forces Google and other online platforms to sign licensing agreements with musicians, authors and news publishers to use their work, is insufficient.
Christian Van Thillo, President of the European Board of Publishers, told the Financial Times that he welcomed Microsoft’s support and the fact that the company recognizes the value of journalistic content in the core business of search engines and social media. network.
“It is crucial that our regulators recognize this key point, and that they are not fooled into thinking that side deals are the same,” he said, adding: “All publishers should get a deal, no one should be left out.” .
The position of the EU Parliament
The appeal comes as the European Parliament prepares to discuss with the European Commission and the Council on the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act. According to the Financial Times, MEPs would like to include the option of mandatory arbitrage for licensing agreements and a requirement for technology companies to notify publishers of changes in how they rank news on their sites, following the Australian model. According to Alex Saliba, the Maltese MEP who is the first rapporteur of the Digital Services Act, the Australian approach has the merit of trying to resolve “the huge imbalance in bargaining power” between publishers and Big Tech.
Australia has gone much further than any other country in trying to make digital platforms pay for the news they host. The law currently under discussion requires digital platforms to make economic agreements with publishers. If the two parties do not reach an agreement, the legislation provides for the establishment of an arbitration that resolves the matter in a binding manner.
According to Google, the system, in addition to being impractical, poses a threat to the internet. This is why the Mountain View company initially threatened to stop operating in Australia, but later changed its course and reached agreements with some large publishers such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Facebook, on the other hand, saw through its threat and blocked its users from sharing Australian news content.
Facebook instead decided to block news pages in Australia, but after the government agreed to introduce some amendments in the bill, it announced the lifting of the block. “These amendments will provide greater clarity on how the code of conduct will operate, strengthening the framework to ensure that news production is remunerated fairly. The code of conduct still provides for negotiations between platforms such as Facebook and Google, and Australian media companies, to agree on the payment itself, ”Finance Minister Josh Frydenberg and Communications colleague Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.