Microsoft has joined forces with European publishers while in Australia Google and Facebook continue to fight a battle with the Australian Government over payment to the media for linking news. The software giant, owner of the search engine Bing, has agreed to work with the Council of European Editors, News Media Europe and the associations of magazine and newspaper publishers ENPA and EMMA on a “legal solution” to “demand payment” for use. of the contents by “the guardians who have a dominant power in the market ”. Although they do not name them, they refer to Google and Facebook.
This informal coalition, which will propose that the plan be added to the next EU legislation on Big Tech, seeks to create an Australian-style arbitration mechanism that establishes a “fair payment” in case the parties do not agree on how much should be paid for the news.
The EU copyright rules modified in 2019 and which oblige Google and other online platforms to sign license agreements with musicians, authors and news publishers in order to use their work, “are not enough”, as they have pointed out. Microsoft and the publisher associations cited in a statement.
The Redmond company takes this new step after having asked the authorities of the United States, Canada and Europe on February 11 to adopt proposals similar to those of the Australian Government to force technology groups to pay the media for their content. Microsoft seeks, with this movement, to take advantage of the strong pressure suffered by its rivals and promote its own search engine Bing as an alternative to the Google search engine.
The new allies have also assured that they will closely observe the model developed in Australia, which has led Google to sign agreements with News Corp, owned by Australian magnate Rupert Murdoch, and Facebook to veto the sharing of Australian news on its platform.
The proposal from Microsoft and the publishers comes as EU lawmakers prepare like those in other countries to launch laws that tie more short to the American tech giants.
Christian Van Thillo, President of the European Council of Editors, welcomed “Microsoft’s recognition of the value that our content brings to the core business of search engines and social networks.” And he added that “it is crucial that our regulators recognize this key point and are not fooled into thinking that agreements that are signed individually are the same. All editors must reach an agreement, and none should be left out ”, he added.
For his part, Casper Klynge, vice president of Microsoft, has defended that the payment to publishers will allow to create quality news and has assured that this is “something fundamental for the success of our democracies”. The president of this company, Brad Smith, already indicated a week ago that, from their experience with Bing, they know that the content of the news generates an important indirect value for search engines and social networks (up to 4.7 billion dollars annually for Google ), although people often don’t click on the original story.
Although EU governments are in the process of implementing a recent review of copyright law, which is already trying to respond to publishers’ claim for payment for their content, which takes effect this June, Microsoft and European partners fear that publishers “do not have the economic strength to negotiate fair and balanced deals with technology companies, which could otherwise threaten to walk away from negotiations or exit the markets altogether.”
For this reason, they have highlighted, they not only demand that the content be paid, but that the legislation includes an arbitration mechanism, which balances the power of the parties, and “this will be achieved through appropriate regulatory frameworks such as the Digital Market Law , The Digital Services Law or other national laws ”, they have remarked in a statement.
The new action by Microsoft and European publishers comes as Google and Facebook continue to criticize the Australian bill, which they consider unworkable and unfair. Both companies (despite the fact that they have concluded agreements with publishers in different countries) believe that this regulation ignores the realities of their relations with the media and assures that it is attacking the very essence of the internet (that linking is completely free).
However, Fernando de Yarza, president of News Media Europe, has insisted after seeing how Google has agreed to pay more to Australian publishers than to French ones, that “the experiences in France and Australia have shown us that there is a real need for a binding instrument ”.
Facebook argued that last year it helped make Australian publishers some $ 316 million. And today Google has assured the Financial Times that they already have hundreds of partnerships with publishers across Europe, “which makes us one of the largest funders of journalism.”