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.