France is the first nation to ratify controversial EU copyright directive that targets bigtech

The French parliament voted recently to adopt a copyright reform that ensures media are paid for original content, including news clips, offered online by tech aggregators, such as Google and Facebook.

The creation of what is known as the “neighboring right” to copyright protection was strongly backed by media companies and artists – and opposed by technology businesses and content aggregators. Creators and content providers want to secure revenue from web platforms that allow users to distribute their work.

The directive also was strongly opposed by internet freedom activists who say it will be restrictive, acting as a “link tax” which will discourage internet discourse, and by Silicon Valley, especially Google, which makes vast profits from the advertising generated alongside the content published on its pages.

Alphabet has threatened to shut down Google News in Europe as a result of the directive. In instituted a similar option in Spain.

$4.7 Billion

The New York Times reported that Google made $4.7 billion from the work of news publishers in 2018 via search and Google News, according to a study released by the News Media Alliance.

“The journalists who create that content deserve a cut of that $4.7 billion,” said David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the alliance, which represents more than 2,000 newspapers across the country, including The New York Times.

“They make money off this arrangement,” Chavern said, “and there needs to be a better outcome for news publishers.”

The U.S. news industry as a whole brought in $5.1 billion in digital advertising in 2018.

The most controversial part of the copyright directive makes platforms like Google and Facebook responsible for copyright violations in material posted by their users. Previously, users, not the platforms, were liable. The directive will also require aggregators to pay publishers a licensing fee for displaying excerpts from news stories, with the exception of “individual words or very short extracts.”

“Essential for Our Democracy”

“We can be proud to be the first country to enshrine the EU directive into national law,” said French Culture Minister Franck Riester.

“This text is absolutely essential for our democracy and the survival of an independent and free press,” he added.

The EU copyright directive is due to be adopted by all member states by April next year.

For an executive summary of the News Media Alliance’s report, go here.

For the full study, go here.

Image source: International Publishers Association

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