Thursday, 06 September 2018 11:49

European news agencies slam Google, Facebook for 'plundering' news

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European news agencies slam Google, Facebook for 'plundering' news Pixabay

Twenty news agencies in Europe have issued a joint statement calling on Internet giants Google and Facebook to share more of their revenue with the media.

Accusing the two Silicon Valley behemoths of "plundering" news free, the heads of the agencies — including Frances' Agence-France Presse, Britain's Press Association and Germany's Deutsche Presse-Agentur — urged the European Parliament to push through an updated copyright law in order to address what was described as "a grotesque imbalance".

A column, signed by all 20 news agency chiefs, said: "The Internet giants' plundering of the news media's content and of their advertising revenue poses a threat both to consumers and to democracy," according to an AFP report.

As iTWire  reported, last month the European Parliament voted against proposals to begin talks to update the copyright laws, with the parliament's plenary voting 318-278, with 31 abstentions, to reject the negotiating mandate that had been proposed by its legal affairs committee on 20 June.

The matter will next come up for a vote at the next plenary session in September.

"Can the titans of the Internet compensate the media without asking people to pay for access to the internet, as they claim they would be forced to? The answer is clearly 'yes'," the column signed by the European news agency chief said.

They claimed Facebook had reported revenue of US$40 billion in 2017 and profit of US$16 billion, while Google had made US$12.7 billion profit on sales of US$110 billion.

And the heads of the agencies said: "Who could reasonably argue that they are not in a position to make fair payment for the content they use?

"What we are really talking about is introducing a fair payment by those who have ripped off the news. For the sake of Europe's free press and democratic values, EU lawmakers should press ahead with copyright reform."

There are two provisions in the law which the agencies want to see adopted. One would make platforms like Google's YouTube legally liable for copyright violations, meaning that it would have to prevent copyrighted content from being posted without payment.

The second would create a "neighbouring right" which means newspapers, magazines and news agencies would have to be paid when Google or other websites link to their stories.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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