How and why Congress needs to get big tech to start paying for news

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Written By Chris

Congress will strive as soon as once more to avoid wasting native journalism this 12 months.

A key invoice to stabilize the information business, forestall additional layoffs and place it for long-term survival is being revised and ready for reintroduction by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and others.

The bipartisan Journalism Competitors and Preservation Act (S 673) would “give these information retailers a preventing probability,” Klobuchar mentioned at a Feb. 2 listening to the Minnesota Democrat hosted on the journalism disaster.

The JCPA would enable publishers to collectively negotiate with Google and Fb, to safe truthful compensation for information content material the tech giants are taking advantage of.

Count on a bruising struggle. When an analogous coverage was debated final 12 months in Australia, a a lot smaller market, the platforms went ballistic. Google threatened to chop companies throughout the nation and Fb briefly blocked all information on its platform.

Their threats backfired. The coverage was enacted and all however a couple of retailers have since negotiated content material licensing offers. I wouldn’t be shocked if platforms are stonewalling the previous few retailers for political causes, to forged doubt on the coverage’s efficacy because the U.S. and different nations contemplate comparable laws.

Total, Australia’s coverage led to extra journalists getting employed and so much fewer layoffs, its outgoing competitors chief, Rod Sims, advised The Guardian final month. Sims estimates platforms at the moment are paying greater than $200 million yearly for information.

In preparation for debate when JCPA is reintroduced, here’s a dialogue of some frequent misconceptions concerning the coverage.

Q: Information retailers voluntarily put content material on Google and Fb. In the event that they don’t just like the phrases, why not cease?

A: Media corporations should be on the platforms as they turn into extra depending on digital income. However they’ll’t get truthful therapy if platforms abuse their monopolies, as federal investigations decided. There’s a “vital and rising asymmetry of energy” between platforms and information organizations, a 2020 Home antitrust report discovered.

Q: Retailers don’t want particular therapy, they’ll negotiate on their very own.

A: A couple of big media corporations have heft to barter with platforms. However the overwhelming majority don’t, together with greater than 6,000 native newspapers offering most of America’s important information protection. Individually, they don’t have assets or leverage to barter content material licensing offers with Google and Fb.

Q: This principally helps massive firms.

A: Not likely. Once more, big retailers don’t must band collectively. Smaller ones should work collectively to get correctly paid by platforms. This proved true in Australia, the place a coalition of small, rural newspapers secured compensation after the bargaining coverage took impact.

Q: It’s for Rupert Murdoch.

A: That’s incorrect. The Wall Road Journal, owned by Murdoch’s Information Corp, already made a licensing cope with Google final 12 months, paying the Journal tens of tens of millions a 12 months for its content material. It’s true that Information Corp was an early advocate for Australia’s coverage, which helped it safe licensing offers. Such insurance policies are wanted so different media corporations obtain comparable assist. In the event you hate Murdoch, opposing JCPA is capturing your self within the foot, as a result of the outcome could be that his retailers get sustainable income from content material licensing and different information retailers don’t.

Q: Making Google and Fb pay for content material simply makes issues dearer for everybody.

A: Improper. Fb and Google pay billions for content material that pulls individuals to their platforms, simply not for information they’re accustomed to getting for nearly nothing. Final 12 months, Google created a $100 million fund to compensate individuals posting quick movies (and began paying for information in Australia) and nonetheless grew web earnings 89% 12 months over 12 months, to $76 billion. Mark Zuckerberg introduced that his firm will spend greater than $1 billion “to reward creators for excellent content material they create on Fb and Instagram via 2022.” However not factual information.

Q: It will break the web as we all know it.

A: That was a bogus menace made by platforms and their allies in Australia. It proved false, as platforms at the moment are paying for information there, and miraculously the web nonetheless works. Variations of this propaganda proceed, by mischaracterizing JCPA as searching for to implement a regime of charging for hyperlinks. The purpose is guaranteeing truthful cost for content material, just like what’s been achieved with recorded music.

Q: This authorizes cartels, which do dangerous issues.

A: That’s deeply deceptive and insinuates that information retailers and their commerce teams are akin to drug lords. A greater comparability is to agricultural cooperatives that emerged within the early 1900s to assist farmers survive amid monopolies and damaged marketplaces. Congress in 1922 accepted an antitrust exemption permitting farmers to market their merchandise cooperatively. The JCPA is a a lot narrower exemption and non permanent, however it might equally enable publishers to collectively safe a good value for his or her items.

Q: Newspapers are dying, why trouble?

A: There’s bipartisan assist for JCPA as a result of saving native information and reining problematic monopolies will profit the general public. Ample analysis reveals that democracy is dependent upon protection offered by native papers, and it suffers once they fade away. It’s additionally too quickly to put in writing off newspapers. Some are discovering success with new enterprise fashions emphasizing digital subscriptions and promoting. However progress is hamstrung by a distorted market, by which a couple of platforms dominate {the marketplace} and don’t pretty compensate publishers for information content material they revenue from.

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