The European Union lawmakers overseeing new digital regulation in Europe want to force Big Tech firms to pay for news, echoing a similar move in Australia and strengthening the hand of publishers against Google and Facebook, says an article published in the Financial Times on Tuesday.
The initiative from members of European Parliament (MEPs) would be a serious blow to Google, which has threatened to leave Australia in protest at a planned new law that would compel it to pay for news.
Facebook has also warned it will stop users in Australia from sharing news if the legislation is passed in its current form. MEPs working on two landmark draft European digital regulations, the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), told Financial Times the laws could be amended as they pass through EU Parliament to include aspects of the Australian reforms.
These include the option of binding arbitration for licensing agreements and requiring tech companies to inform publishers about changes to how they rank news stories on their sites. Alex Saliba, a Maltese MEP who led the parliament’s first report on the DSA, said the Australian approach to Google and Facebook had managed to address “the acute bargaining power imbalances” with publishers. “With their dominant market position in search, social media and advertising, large digital platforms create power imbalances and benefit significantly from news content,” he said. “I think it is only fair that they pay back a fair amount.”
Google and Facebook have stepped up their efforts to reach licensing deals for news in Europe since the EU overhauled its copyright laws in 2019. The changes give publishers the right to compensation for snippets of content that appear on online platforms. While support is growing for Australia-style measures, MEPs are divided over how best to introduce such reforms, and whether it is better to wait for the impact of the copyright overhaul to become clear.