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Google Refusing to Pay Publishers in France following the Implementation of the EU Copyright Directive
Google has opted out of paying publishers in France for news results in Google Search, an executive announced on September 25. France, which is the first country to implement Article 15 of the new European Union Copyright Directive nationally, had hoped that news publishers would benefit from the legislation allowing publishers to protect and license news content online, including snippets. Publishers in France were hoping to recoup some of the nearly €320 million they claim to lose to the duopoly each year. In response, Google has indicated that it will remove all snippets from search results, arguing that doing so would allow it to avoid licensing content under the Copyright Directive. Publishers who wish to allow previews without charge will be able to opt-out of the snippet removal and have their blurbs shown in the search results, forcing publishers to choose between protecting their content and not getting paid, a situation some have referred to as being “blackmailed.” Read more here.
The House Judiciary Committee on September 13 informed Alphabet CEO Larry Page that the company was under investigation regarding competition in digital markets. Page, whose company is the parent of Google and YouTube, among others, was asked to provide a host of documents and financial statements for each of its subsidiaries being investigated by the House. The Committee plans to look at whether Alphabet and its platform brethren are engaging in anti-competitive behavior online and whether existing antitrust laws and enforcement are sufficient to address any issues they find. You can read the House Judiciary’s letter to Page here.
News Media Alliance Requests Germany to Extend the EU Publishers’ Right to Non-EU Publishers during Implementation
On September 6, the News Media Alliance joined four other news media organizations to request the German Government to extend the protections created by Article 15 of the newly approved EU Copyright Directive to non-EU publishers. Article 15 of the Directive requires EU member states to create a Publishers’ Right that allows news publishers to protect their content online against unauthorized uses. The member states have until 2021 to implement the Directive. In the letter, the Alliance, European Publishers Council, News Media Association UK, News Media Europe, and WAN-IFRA noted that the member states have the right to extend the right to non-EU publishers, although the Directive does not require them to do so. Extending the right would protect both European and non-EU publishers. The letter was in response to the German Government’s public consultation on the implementation of the Directive. Read the letter here.
Alliance Hosts Congressional Fly-In to Advocate for Passage of the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act
On Tuesday, September 10, the Alliance is hosting a Congressional fly-in to advocate for the passage of the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.” Executives representing Alliance member companies will meet with Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill throughout the day to discuss the bills currently before the House and Senate and to ask for support for a limited safe harbor that would allow news publishers to collectively negotiate with the tech platforms for better terms. You can learn more about both bills in the Alliance’s Safe Harbor Resource Center.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested that Alphabet, the parent company of Google, turn over all information they have related to previous antitrust investigations conducted both in the U.S. and abroad, according to a filing by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The request comes following the launch of a DOJ antitrust probe into the dominant online platforms announced in July. In addition to the DOJ probe, recent reports indicate that the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) technology task force, created in February, has moved onto an investigation phase. While the FTC has not publicly named the companies under investigation, Facebook previously admitted that they were being looked at by the agency’s antitrust division. Read more.
On Thursday, September 12, the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 3: The Role of Data and Privacy in Competition” regarding the roles data and privacy play in helping or hindering competition in Silicon Valley. Those testifying at the hearing include: Democratic FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra; Rod Sims, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; former Obama adviser Jason Furman, now a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School; and Roslyn Layton, a visiting scholar with the American Enterprise Institute who served on Donald Trump’s FCC transition team. Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) will lead the hearing, which is the third in his ongoing series looking at the impact of the tech duopoly. Read more.
On September 6, the New York Attorney General announced that New York is leading a bipartisan, multistate investigation of Facebook’s dominant role in the digital marketplace. New York’s Facebook probe is joined by Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia. The investigation will focus on whether the company has jeopardized consumer data, reduced consumer choices, or increased advertising costs. In addition to the Facebook investigation, a separate group of 48 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia is launching an antitrust investigation into Google. The probe is led by Texas. Read more about the investigations here and here.