Google-French Deal for Payments Regarding Online News Content

Google-French Deal:

Google has signed a deal with a group of French publishers to make digital copyright payments for online news content.

  • A similar tussle is ongoing between the Australian government and global tech platforms (google and Facebook) over the sharing of royalties with news publishers.

About the Google-French Deal:

  • France became the first country to enshrine the European Union copyright rules into national law.
  • This brought into effect the ‘neighboring rights’ law.
  • Neighboring Rights: According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), neighboring rights protect the legal interests of certain persons and legal entities that contribute to making works available to the public or that produce subject matter which, while not qualifying as works under the copyright systems of all countries, contains sufficient creativity or technical and organizational skill to justify recognition of a copyright-like property right.
  • The newly adopted EU directive ensures that media are paid for original content, typically news, offered online by tech giants such as Google and Facebook.
  • Under the new law, Google was forced to negotiate to pay the publishers and news agencies for reusing their material online.

European Union Copyright Rules:

  • It wants to create a comprehensive framework where copyrighted material, copyright holders, publishers, providers and users can all benefit from clearer rules, adapted to the digital era.

The focus is on three main objectives:

  • Wider opportunities to use copyrighted material for education, research, and preservation of cultural heritage.
  • More cross-border and online access for citizens to copyright-protected content.
  • Fairer rules for a better-functioning of copyright marketplace which stimulates creation of high-quality content.

Issues in Australia:

  • Google has threatened to remove its search engine from the country, and Facebook has said it could block Australian users from posting or sharing news links if proposed norms on royalty payments are rolled out.
  • Royalty payment: A royalty is a legally-binding payment made to an individual, for the ongoing use of his or her originally-created assets, including copyrighted works, franchises, and natural resources.

The argument made by the global tech companies is that:

  • The Australian media industry is already benefiting from traffic being routed to them by each of the digital platforms.
  • The new rules proposed by the Australian authorities would expose them to unmanageable levels of financial and operational risk.
  • Hefty fines proposed by authorities are being seen as an added disincentive.
  • The fundamental difference in the approach taken by the French and Australian authorities on the issue is that France specifically linked payments to copyright, without putting a forcing device into the agreements like in Australia.

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