Under the proposed European rules that are designed to shore up the collapsing revenues of traditional media companies, news publishers would have stronger rights to demand payment from digital giants such as Google and Facebook in exchange for using their content.
The European commission plans to put out a series of reforms to consultation in September and the measures are part of it. Starting from authors and musicians to record labels, broadcasters and publishers the proposals are designed to strengthen the rights of those who create and invest in original content.
Increasing pressure from publishers to level the playing field have been exerted on the commission. While revenues for news publishers have slumped despite their expanding online readerships, Google and Facebook have attracted a ballooning share of online advertising money.
“The sustainability of publishing industries in the EU may be at stake, with the risk of further negative consequences on media pluralism, democratic debate and quality of information,” the commission says in draft proposals setting out its preferred options.
According to a version of the draft as reported in The Guardian, “the digital groups have a ‘strong bargaining position’, which ‘makes it difficult for publishers to negotiate with them on an equal footing.”
The exclusive right to make their content available to the public, and to reproduce it for digital purposes is sought to be given to the publishers by Brussels.
Demands from publishers to pay to use extracts of their articles in services like Google News could therefore be faced by Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
There exists, For performers, record labels and broadcasters, the protection known as “neighbouring rights”. The producers of news – publishers who produce largely text-based journalism, are sought to be included in the list by the commission.
Publishers would like the protection to last for 50 years, according to the draft proposal. Given the perishable nature of news, whether a shorter period of as little as between one and five years would be more appropriate, the commission is asking.
“Neighbouring rights are attributed to those that assist in making the original author’s work available to the public at large, for example performers, producers and broadcasters. The commission is considering whether to grant such rights to news publishers. It would recognise their role as investors in content and give them a stronger position when negotiating with other market players,” a spokesman for the commission said.
However, many publishers may choose to continue making their journalism available at no cost in the hope of attracting more readers and there would be no obligation on publishers to make Google pay for using their content.
Earlier attempts have failed when it was tried to force Google to pay for reproducing news stories. The search engine shut down its Spanish version of Google News when Spain introduced a mandatory levy. Many publishers decided to stop charging the company in Germany after big drops in traffic.
Imposing obligation on platforms like YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion to seek revenue-sharing agreements with rights holders is also being suggested for content uploaded by members of the public.
(Adapted from The Guardian)