Where do you get your news updates? I am sure your answer is ‘on my Facebook News Feed’ or Google Platforms like the Newsstand. The latter has morphed up into various platforms; the Chrome new tab, users’ lock screen, and of course the good old Google News.
The two, one a social media, and the other a search engine have over the years becomes news aggregators for millions of people across the globe. Now nine news agencies in Europe have taken Facebook and Google to court on the plea that these U.S. online companies ought to pay them for linking back to their respective sites.
The case has many appellees, but Facebook and Google came out more pronounced than the rest of the accused news aggregators. The news agencies say more people read off such aggregators than the ones who actually click through to read the news.
They also complain that Facebook does not compensate the news sites in a fair manner, given it is using their content. The petitioners also claim that news updates and stories have now become part of the social media and search engine’s core businesses. Yet they do not produce any news of their own, and if (when) they do make payment to the news agencies, it is a minimal amount.
The agencies are complaining the profitability of their industry has taken a dive ever since such platform started aggregating their content and distribute them. On the other hand, the profits of the companies distributing content that is not their own have increased tens fold.
Back in 2014, news agencies took Google to court over the same matter, and the court ruled that the search engine must pay the publishers royalties. Google resolved to pay the Spanish news agencies, after which the company closed the Google News shop in Spain.
This current plea has been signed by various international news agency like the Press Association in U.K., AFP in France, Italian Ansa, Belga in Belgium, Spanish EFE, DPA in Germany, Australian APA, and Dutch ANP.
It will be interesting to see if Google will react the same way it did in Spain, by closing down shop and moving out of town. Facebook’s reactions too will be of high interest.