Google and Facebook threaten to leave if they are forced to pay for the news: they have said it in Australia, but now it is Europe that proposes it
“This is going to happen all over the world. Are they going to withdraw from all markets?” wondered Senator Rex Patrick, before Google’s threat to leave the Australian market if the new law is approved by which companies such as Google or Facebook would have to pay the media to use your news.
The case of Australia has generated a significant stir, not because of the importance of its market, but because of the precedent it creates. So much so, that now the European Parliament is preparing an equivalent initiative by some members, as reported Financial Times. Legislation that, if passed, would mean a major change in the way Google or Facebook work with the news. With the Australian country they have threatened to leave, but it seems difficult to believe that they would do the same with the European market.
Paying the authors of the news: when, how much and how
Various parliamentarians are working to ensure that European legislation in the digital world (DSA y DMA) include references on the use of the news, incorporating some of the aspects also proposed by the Australian reform. This includes compel copyright licensing agreements and demand that companies like Google or Facebook report on how they order the news on their sites and how the algorithm works on their visibility. That is explain what criteria are followed to give visibility to some news and not others.
From Europe, the position of technology companies is seen as dominant in some sectors and they believe that it is only fair that these companies return an amount. This way of thinking is not unique, because in fact Google itself has already reached agreements with some newspapers to remunerate them for the use of their news. This is the French case, where the first major European agreement has been made. In it, Google has reached an agreement with the APIG group, which represents about 300 media. However, for the moment it is a specific agreement and not a general solution, which is what the different governments are trying to find.
The threat of leaving the country is not new. And it has been fulfilled in the past. An equivalent debate ended the closure of Google News in Spain. That has been more than seven years, but the problem is still on the table, because deep down there is a conflict of interest over copyright. In november last year, the organization CEDRO reopened the matter in Spain with a lawsuit about the use of the news. This time on Discover. No further movement has occurred since then, but the lawsuit is part of this ongoing debate in Europe.
While in Australia the support has been majority when it comes to reforming the law, in Europe at the moment there is no consensus. The debate is not easy, since it is difficult to establish which media should be subsidized, what news used is likely to be rewarded and how this amount should be calculated. In practice, what we have is a conflict that is being solved on the basis of patches, through specific agreements between the parties involved. At least until it is possible to create legislation that limits the matter.
In a open letter, Google explained that Australian law could “break Google Search” as we know it. From Facebook, Australia’s decision also caused a release warning of the “damage” that this regulation could do. In the case of Facebook, they warned that “most users do not come to Facebook with the intention of seeing news” and that withdrawing from the market “would not significantly impact your income”.
In response to Xataka, from Google they explain that “publishers receive valuable traffic on their websites of 24,000 million visits per month.” One for which they are willing to pay to “continue supporting journalism.” Therefore, from Google they maintain the News Showcase initiative, with 450 registered publications and that allows free access to news under paywalls. An initiative that taking advantage of the controversy with Australia, has also landed there.
Regarding the proposal that comes from Europe, Google states that “the EU Copyright Directive, which is in the process of being transposed into national legislation, aims to achieve the right balance between news publishers, large and small , and platforms “.
At the moment this proposal has not been officially registered and from the company they remember that figures such as Tim Berners Lee they have criticized Australian law because can damage the fundamental principle of free linking on the internet. In the case of Facebook, they have decided not to respond with any comment when asked.