EU wants to make Google pay for the use of excerpts from news publishers

A European Commission document has leaked exploring the possibility of granting news publishers the right to charge for re-use of their content. For example, to parties such as Google and Facebook.

The document is an impact assessment, in which the Commission examines various initiatives to reform certain areas of copyright. The nearly 200-page piece was published Thursday by Statewatch. One of the options for modernizing copyright is granting neighboring rights to news publishers, allowing them to claim compensation for the use of their news stories. This can occur, for example, in the situation that Google or Facebook takes over part of such a message.

Neighboring rights are similar to copyright and apply to music and film producers and broadcasters, among others. The EU is now considering adding a category for news publishers. According to the Commission, this is necessary because the revenues of these types of companies do not grow at the same rate to absorb the decline in print media. This would create a value gap. This is partly because online news services make their content available for free and depend to a large extent on advertisements as a source of income. In addition, some companies such as search engines, social media or news aggregators reuse this content without compensation, according to the Commission.

The EU body acknowledges that similar solutions have not worked in Spain and Germany. In the latter country, publisher Axel Springer decided after two weeks to allow Google to index parts of news items again. In the short period after the ban, the number of visitors had fallen sharply. MEP Julia Reda criticized the Financial Times that the European Commission threatens to make exactly the same mistakes again. Other criticisms of the proposal are that the plans would amount to a ‘link tax’, although this is opposed by the EU.

For example, Commission spokesman Christian Wigand told the Financial Times: “Let’s be clear, granting such rights to news publishers will not affect the way users share hyperlinks on the Internet. It would only confirm their role as investors.” The rules would also contain no obligation for publishers to charge a fee. In September, the Commission plans to announce more.

Another topic that comes up in the leaked documents is the plan to oblige parties such as YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion to enter into agreements with copyright holders, for example artists. That writes Reuters. There is also a value gap in the field of music, because companies such as Google earn a lot of money with the content, while artists would see relatively little of it. This should change with the introduction of licensing agreements that should ensure better pay.