U.S. bill strengthens digital news publishers’ right for revenue sharing with Big Tech

A revised version of the bill was tabled by bipartisan senators in the United States on Wednesday that strengthens the stance for digital news publishers to negotiate with Big Tech companies for sharing revenues that entail the use of their content.

August 24, 2022 07:44 pm | Updated August 25, 2022 12:23 am IST

Representational image of the Meta and Google logos. It will now be easier for digital news publishers to negotiate with Big Tech companies such as Google and Meta for using their content

Representational image of the Meta and Google logos. It will now be easier for digital news publishers to negotiate with Big Tech companies such as Google and Meta for using their content | Photo Credit: Reuters

Bipartite senators in the United States on Wednesday introduced a revised version of a bill that would make it easier for digital news publishers to negotiate with Big Tech companies (such as Google and Meta) for using their content on the former’s respective platforms. As per news agency Reuters, the bill titled ‘The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act’ endeavours to remove “legal obstacles to news organisations’ ability to negotiate collectively and secure fair terms from gatekeeper platforms that regularly access news content without paying for its value”.

The Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA), a collaborative forum of digital arms of Indian media organisations, referred to it as a “major shot in the arm”. “It is a big step in the right direction. It vindicates our stand here in India as we strive to make Big Tech more transparent, inclusive and accommodative in terms of revenue-sharing.” Earlier this year, the forum had complained to the Competition Council of India (CCI) that led to an investigation into Google’s alleged malpractices in sharing revenues with digital news entities.

As reported by Reuters, an older version of the bill was introduced in March 2021. It, however, was opposed by tech-based industry groups NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry whose participants include Meta and Alphabet (the parent company of Google).

If cleared, United States would be following up on similar legislations that have been passed in the European Union (E.U.), Canada and Australia.

The development assumes significance back home for it corresponds to the time when tech companies would be testifying before a parliamentary panel over anti-competitive practices. Former Union Minister Jayant Sinha is expected to chair the disposition that would involve companies as Google, Microsoft and Netflix among others. This follows up on Union Govt’s recent focus on making internet free from any market distortion practices. It has been reported that the IT Ministry is also closely studying related legislation in about 20 countries, including the recently promulgated Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) in the E.U.

Additionally, as part of the wider initiative, the IT Ministry is slated to release the inaugural version of a quarterly-conducted audit of social media platforms on September 30.

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