EU Considers Making Platforms Pay for News Content

February 13, 2018

European journalists are sick of giant internet companies profiting from their labor without recompense, we learn from Yahoo News’ article, “Net Giants ‘Must Pay for News’ From Which They Make Billions.” The declaration from nine press agencies comes in support of a proposed EU directive that would require companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to pay for the articles that bring so much ad revenue to their platforms. The write-up shares part of the agencies’ plea:

Facebook has become the biggest media in the world,” the agencies said in a plea published in the French daily Le Monde. “Yet neither Facebook nor Google have a newsroom… They do not have journalists in Syria risking their lives, nor a bureau in Zimbabwe investigating Mugabe’s departure, nor editors to check and verify information sent in by reporters on the ground. Access to free information is supposedly one of the great victories of the internet. But it is a myth,” the agencies argued. “At the end of the chain, informing the public costs a lot of money.

News, the declaration added, is the second reason after catching up on family and friends for people to log onto Facebook, which tripled its profits to $10 billion (€8.5 billion) last year. Yet it is the giants of the net who are reaping vast profits “from other people’s work” by soaking up between 60 and 70 percent of advertising revenue, with Google’s jumping by a fifth in a year. Meanwhile, ad revenue for news media fell nine percent in France alone last year, “a disaster for the industry”.

Indeed it is. And, we are reminded, a robust press is crucial for democracy itself. Some attempts have been made in France, Germany, and Spain to obtain compensation from these companies, but the limited results were disappointing. The press agencies suggest granting journalists “related rights” copyrights and assure a concerned Parliament that citizens will still be able to access information for free online. The only difference, they insist, would be that an appropriate chunk of that ad revenue will go to the people who actually researched and created the content. That sounds reasonable to this writer.

Cynthia Murrell, February 13, 2018



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