February 26, 2021

European publishers and Microsoft call for Australian-style protection in Europe


Brussels, Feb 22 (EFE) .- European press editors and Microsoft on Monday called for an Australian-style arbitration mechanism in the European Union (EU) to ensure that the “guardians of technology”, such as Google or Facebook, remunerate to press editors fairly for the use of the content.

In a joint statement, the European press publishers and Microsoft reported their decision to “work together on a solution to ensure that European press publishers are paid for the use of their content by gatekeepers who have market power. dominant online “with advertising.

“The solution should require payments for the use of press publishers’ content” by technology platforms and include “arbitration provisions to ensure fair deals are negotiated,” the statement signed by four publisher associations and Microsoft said.

The signatories are convinced that negotiations with large technology platforms, such as Facebook or Google, which have dominant market power, will not produce fair results unless additional regulatory measures are presented.

Unlike the pioneering Australian bill in the world – which forces Google and Facebook to resort to a mediator to agree a price with press publishers if they have not reached an agreement before – the European copyright law that must coming into force next June offers the media the right to demand payment for a license.

In addition to the European copyright law, the Community Executive last December presented a broad legislative proposal to limit the abuses of power by large digital platforms, such as Facebook and Google.

This is the digital services directive that aims to force the internet giants to remove illegal content from their web pages and fine them up to 6% of their global turnover if they do not do so.

The European press publishers and Microsoft consider that the additional guarantees they demand should be included in this directive for digital services. “This is necessary to avoid undermining the scope of publishers’ rights and creating legal certainty,” they stressed.

Otherwise, they warned, even if press publishers have a related right (recognized in the aforementioned copyright directive), they may “not have the economic strength to negotiate fair and balanced agreements with these controlling technology companies, that otherwise could threaten to walk away from negotiations or exit the markets altogether. ”

In this sense, the president of the European Union of EMMA Magazines, Xavier Bouckaert, considered that any binding regulation should imply a specific obligation for platforms to grant all publications “non-discriminatory access”.

The president of the European Council of Editors, Christian Van Thillo, highlighted the value that media content “brings to the core businesses of search engines and social networks, because this is where Google and Facebook generate the vast majority of their income. “.

For the president of News Media Europe, Fernando de Yarza, there is a real need for a binding instrument to address the inherent imbalances in the bargaining power with the big platforms, which undermine the potential of the European press sector “and he advocated” a healthy and diverse online news media ecosystem. ”

“Independent journalism is vital for social cohesion that is essential for democracy, but the Internet and social networks have not been kind to the free press and most of the media have been greatly affected,” lamented the president of the European Association of ENPA Newspaper Editors, Jean-Pierre de Kerraoul.

Also the vice president of Microsoft, Casper Klynge, said that access to a “new, broad and deep press coverage is fundamental for the success of our democracies” and recalled that his company’s commitment to journalism is not new, since In October 2020, it launched a new initiative to invest in and support local media and, through Microsoft News.

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