Europe’s biggest news agencies have accused Google and
Facebook of “plundering” news for free. The accusation is contained in
a joint statement that called on the internet giants to
share more of their revenues with the media.
In a column signed by the CEOs of around 20
agencies including France’s Agence France-Presse,
Britain’s Press Association and Germany’s Deutsche
Presse-Agentur, they called on the European
Parliament to update copyright law in the EU to help
address a “grotesque imbalance”.
“The internet giants’ plundering of the news media’s
content and of their advertising revenue poses a
threat both to consumers and to democracy,” the
European Parliament lawmakers are set to debate
a new copyright law this month that would force the
internet giants to pay more for creative content used
on their platforms such as news, music or movies.
A first draft of the law was rejected in July and the
plans have been firmly opposed by US tech firms, as
well as advocates of internet freedom who fear that
the regulations could lead to higher costs for
“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 said.
The joint statement from the agencies, which are
major suppliers of news, photos and video, said.
Facebook reported revenues of $40 billion (34 billion
euros) in 2017 and profits of $16 billion, while
Google made $12.7 billion on sales of $110 billion.
“Who could reasonably argue that they are not in a
position to make fair payment for the content they
use?” the agencies asked.
“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,” they added.
The column marks a new lobbying effort by media
groups, backed by artists such as Paul McCartney, to
sway European lawmakers as they prepare for a
second vote on September 12.
The fight is over two parts of the planned law.
The first is Article 13, which would make platforms
like Google-owned YouTube legally liable for
copyrighted material to prevent content producers
from seeing their work posted without pay.