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Can Google Fix the $108 Billion News Industry It Helped Break?

‘International copyright - convergence and divergence’ - Stationers seminar 10 March 2021

Time to redress the imbalance between “might” and right”?

This article from Bloomberg 18 January 2021 circulated by BOSACKS Media Intelligence Courtesy of BoSacks & The Precision Media Group America's Oldest e-newsletter est.1993

Will there be a Brexit premium for content owners, caught in a seemingly endless game of “whack a mole” against theft of their intellectual property? Or will the UK sit on its hands and do nothing with its new found freedoms to redress the imbalance between might and right?











These were some of the key issues discussed in an online seminar moderated by Sarah Faulder, Chief Executive of collective licensing body PLS, a Stationers’ Corporate Member, on 11 March 2021, with leading intellectual property experts Shira Perlmutter of the Register of Copyrights and Director, US Copyright Office, and Daniel Alexander QC, Deputy High Court Judge. 

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‘International copyright - convergence and divergence’ Stationers’ seminar



Will there be a “Brexit premium” for content owners, caught in a seemingly endless game of “whack a mole” against alleged infringement? Will the UK use its new found freedoms to develop creative solutions to new problems? 


These were some of the key issues discussed in an online seminar moderated by Sarah Faulder, Chief Executive of collective licensing body Publishers’ Licensing Services, a Stationers’ Corporate Member, on 10 March 2021, with leading intellectual property experts Shira Perlmutter, Register of Copyrights and Director, US Copyright Office, and Daniel Alexander QC, Deputy High Court Judge. 


Copyright and the challenges international commercial activities bring for copyright law were being brought into sharp relief by jostling between publishers and online platforms and major interventions by governments around the world.


In the United States, said Shira Perlmutter, the Copyright Office had issued a report on safe harbors for platforms, concluding that, in short, “the balance is not right”.  While online service providers believed the system was generally working well, rightsholders complained about being forced to play “whack a mole” chasing infringements with notices to take down content which then reappeared almost immediately. Back in 1998 when the issue was addressed we thought we had a lot of content online but that is nothing like what we have now.


Current efforts in Europe to address the issue included the new EU copyright directive due to be implemented by member states this year.  Daniel Alexander noted that the UK had supported the directive which contains provisions on text and data mining, the liability of online platforms especially to have authorisation of use and to act on notice and act on take down orders plus non-commercial use. However, the UK currently has “no plans” to implement the directive and was currently asking itself what it would do.


Meanwhile major players such as Murdoch-related companies were striking their own deals with the likes of Google in the context of new legislative frameworks.  The UK was, as Sarah Faulder put it, at a crossroads. Was copyright the best basis on which to bring platforms to account? In Australia competition law was in fact being used as well. 


Shira Perlmutter argued that both copyright and competition legislation had a role, with differing goals and scope. Daniel Alexander added that competition law could do things which copyright could not especially as regards ensuring reasonable terms of licensing. Both agreed it was necessary to find solutions for the body of smaller IP owners.  Daniel suggested class actions might be explored further (with some activity in the field of competition law in the UK at the moment).  “Astute regulators should look to mechanisms which encouraged and supported deals and collective resolutions,” he said.


The question of who owned the intellectual property created by artificial intelligence opened a whole new book.  Currently in most regimes AI generated work requires a human author to attract copyright protection, sometimes stretching to the person who made the arrangements for the machine that invented the work…probably the theme for a future seminar.


Daniel Alexander said the Stationers’ Company historical engagement in copyright offered a lesson for the future with its actions 300+ years ago. “Copyright was developed for a very particular purpose,” he said and in fact legislators were in this area “doing things the Stationers’ Way”, introducing legislation to address a specific issue in a specific industry for the purpose of protecting a particular kind of right. Sometimes, he added, the specific was more effective than the general and could then be generalised.

Report by Ian Locks

As the internet giants have sapped their content - advertising and news - the news organisations that have unwillingly fed them have shrivelled to mere shadows of their former glory. As the links on this page show, there is a glimmer of hope as Google leads  the way in making deals with UK, German and French publishers with others no doubt on the way as it rolls out Google Showcase.  The $1bn (£750m) global investment by Google in newspapers and magazines means publishers will be paid a licensing fee for producing extracts of news that appear in Google News Showcase.  New copyright laws being enacted in EU countries (although not yet in the UK) have played a big part in bringing about realisation among the behemoths that they cannot continue to bite off the hand that feeds them and Facebook will hopefully not be far behind in recognising the need for reimbursement. For Stationers' Company, these are yet more major steps in the development of the concept of copyright to which the Company can lay claim to founding 300 years ago. For publishers of news everywhere it is hopefully good news to see the behemoths are edging towards being curators of what they have helped to destroy - even if $1bn might indeed be just "a drop in the ocean" as the Bloomberg article, republished in the BoSacks e-newsletter, suggests.

Can Google Fix the $108 Billion News Industry It Helped Break?

By Alex Webb


The innovation that turned Google and Facebook into money-making behemoths wasn’t search or social networking. It was selling advertising space alongside content they got for free.


Now, as regulatory investigations in the U.S., Europe and beyond raise the prospect of breaking up the Silicon Valley companies, they’re tweaking that formula. The two firms are striking deals to start paying one important source of that content: news organizations. Not only does this help bring them in line with new copyright laws, it also gives them the chance to regain the media industry’s trust.


Later this month, Facebook will launch its news tab (which has been available in the U.S. since 2019) in the U.K., with names such as the Guardian, the Economist and the Independent. Google has meanwhile started rolling out its latest news offering, the Google News Showcase, which is already live in Germany with 20 publications, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Spiegel and Die Zeit. Next up it’s going to the U.K., France, Belgium and Australia.


Both products set a significant precedent in that the tech giants are paying publishers to license their stories.


In the past, any revenue the two companies directed toward publishers came from either one-off philanthropic funding for news projects or a share of ad income from users clicking on a story — neither of which has been enough to build a sustainable media business. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP expects the global newspaper industry’s combined advertising and circulation revenue to fall from $108 billion to $86 billion between 2019 and 2024.


A Drop in the Ocean

Google’s three-year plan to spend $1 billion on news content represents just 5% of the sales the industry will lose. Its own 2024 revenue will hit $273 billion.


To be sure, the new licensing fees are, in relative terms, insubstantial. Major publishers in Germany are receiving a flat fee of just a few million euros a year each from Google — between 1% and 2% of their annual revenue. Given that the search giant can account for more than a quarter of their traffic, it’s a drop in the ocean. Facebook is paying similar amounts in the U.K.


The trade-off is the ability to cultivate a relationship with readers who are already on these platforms, because these products will direct them to a publication’s website to read the story. That hasn’t been the case with Apple Inc.’s News+ offering or Microsoft Corp.’s websites — both of which keep readers on their platform and obscure data from publishers, who are nonetheless paid for their stories. Microsoft is developing another news product for Windows that will host the stories itself. Perhaps now the publishers with which it’s in early talks will have a stronger bargaining hand.


The Google News Showcase is made up of so-called “cards,” each focusing on a topic — say sports, finance or Covid — and displaying stories selected by news organizations. Should a user click on a given story, they’re directed to the publication’s website paywall-free, thanks to the license fee paid by Google. Conveniently for the Alphabet Inc. unit, the contracts let it use the stories across any of its other products. Facebook’s news tab will similarly push readers to a publication’s website.


These products are separate from the stories that appear in Facebook newsfeeds or Google search results — the platforms should arguably pay extra for that. But news executives hope that this effort marks a first step toward more sustainable recurring revenue agreements.


There remains a great deal of skepticism from news organizations, since they have been burned repeatedly in the past. For years, Facebook encouraged companies, public figures and publishers to cultivate an audience through Facebook pages. After those groups invested time, money and effort, the California firm then changed the way content was surfaced, making it very hard to reach that same audience without paying for promotion.


That’s one reason that some publishers are more comfortable receiving just a small fee from the tech companies when they could reasonably seek more: If it was a more sizable payment, then they’d risk becoming beholden to the Silicon Valley firms’ whims.


The new contracts guarantee revenue from Google and Facebook for three years — an aeon in technology half-lives. As much as news executives are excited about the precedent that is being set, they need to ensure these deals yield meaningful results, primarily by attracting new subscribers.


As antitrust pressures on Google and Facebook mount, it’s in their interest to help the news business develop sustainable economic models. Doing so might ease the criticism they face for upturning those models in the first place — and ward off additional regulation. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has championed new rules in Australia that force the tech giants to share more digital ad revenue. Paying for news should also improve the quality of platforms that have become a hotbed for misinformation. 


A healthy news industry is good for democracy. For the tech giants, it should also be good for business.


Copyright issue puts tech giants under new spotlight in Turkey 


Google agrees to pay French publishers for news



Ryan Browne



Google slams Australia law forcing tech giants to pay for news


Sui generis database rights from 1 January 2021

Wednesday 10 February 2021 9:36 am

Google to pay UK publishers for news as global pressure mounts but Facebook stands firm in Australia bust up










Google has inked a licensing deal with more than 120 UK publications as pressure mounts on tech giants to pay publishers for news.

The launch of Google News Showcase, part of the company’s pledge to invest $1bn (£750m) in news worldwide, means publishers will be paid for excerpts that appear in its search results.


Google said Thursday it will pay French publishers for news content in a major digital copyright deal

  • The agreement comes after several months of talks between Google France and France’s Alliance de la Presse d’Information Generale.

  • Google said it would negotiate individual licenses with members of the alliance.

Copyright issue puts tech giants under new spotlight in Turkey 

Ömer Fatih Sayan, the deputy minister of transport and infrastructure, signaled that the next step in digital media is the issue of copyright which is also on the agendas of some European countries currently.

Tuesday 9 February 2021 12:35 pm

EU weighs up forcing tech giants to pay for news

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Big tech media Aussie war

Publishing Industry reacts to Facebook’s Australia news ban

By Jamie Gavin

19 Feb 2020

Yesterday, Facebook took what it described as a ‘heavy heart’ decision to stop allowing news content on its services in Australia. The move comes on the back of the country’s proposed new Media Bargaining legislation and the tensions between government, tech giants, and publishers that have escalated in recent months. The ban will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.

All this on the same day it is announced Murdoch empire signs licensing deal with Google

Murdoch empire signs licensing deal with Google!preferred/0/package/514/pub/514/page/118/article/143237

Google threatens to withdraw search engine from Australia

Google slams Australia law forcing tech giants to pay for news

Picture: City AM

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