Google and Meta threaten withdrawal: Canada plans media law

Power struggle between Google and Meta, publishers and the Canadian government: A new media law is in the air. This stipulates that large Internet companies pay publishers to display their links or content. In Australia, a very similar case has already led to a compromise. In the meantime, Google and Meta had blocked media content there. They are now threatening to do so in Canada. The question of such a payment and thus also of the ancillary copyright law must be asked again in this country due to the current developments in the field of artificial intelligence.

The Online News Act, as the media law planned in Canada is called, is intended to force media intermediaries to pay for news content that they link to or whose content they show. This would primarily affect Google and Meta with Facebook. The reason given is that the intermediary platforms share the majority of the advertising business between themselves – and could not do this without the news content. The publishers lose this money. The payment for the use of the content should be a kind of compensation. The parties involved should negotiate the amount, and a mediator will be used in the event of a dispute.

As in Australia, Meta and Google are arguing that they basically get the clicks for the media companies in the first place and that they could then earn money through advertising. An agreement has now been reached in Australia. There are payments, but nothing is known about the amount. Part of the compromise is Google’s News Showcase and Facebook News, purpose-built news services that pay select media outlets to provide content. And that is a sticking point of the compromise – not all publishers are equally involved.

In order to emphasize its own demands, Google had temporarily blocked all news sites for Australia. For test purposes, as it was called. Meta stopped showing news posts on Facebook, (more or less) by accident, but also from charities and clinics. Now such a demonstration of power is threatening in Canada. The Reuters news agency quotes Google’s Richard Gingras, according to which Google linked to Canadian news publishers 3.6 billion times last year and accordingly helped to generate advertising revenue. On Facebook there have been 1.9 billion clicks since April 2022.

In Germany and the EU there have also been attempts to make the big corporations pay for media content. In the meantime, the ancillary copyright, which was adapted as part of the EU copyright reform, takes effect. However, while Google pays for previews in France, for example, there is still no such agreement in Germany.

So far, Microsoft has stepped out of line. The company has said several times that it would be happy to pay for media content. Brad Smith, Microsoft President, wrote, for example, that such a law is important for the survival of democracy and that Microsoft would like to contribute to a fair relationship between technology companies and the free press. However, Microsoft’s new Bing, which offers the search as a conversation thanks to ChatGPT, also complicates the problem. If the AI ​​collects information from the publishers’ websites in the background and offers this in a summarized form in the chat window, the click on the website may also be omitted. It is therefore questionable whether the arguments of Google and Meta would stand up in such a case. And it will have to be clarified to what extent artificial intelligence may use which content for training.

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