Europe’s news agencies blast Google, Facebook for ‘plundering’ content

Europe’s biggest news agencies claimed Facebook reported revenues of $40 billion in 2017 while Google made $12.7 billion. (AFP)
Updated 04 September 2018
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Europe’s news agencies blast Google, Facebook for ‘plundering’ content

  • ‘The Internet giants’ plundering of the news media’s content and of their advertising revenue poses a threat both to consumers and to democracy’
  • ‘Can the titans of the Internet compensate the media without asking people to pay for access to the Internet, as they claim they would be forced to? The answer is clearly ‘yes’’

PARIS: Europe’s biggest news agencies accused Google and Facebook of “plundering” news for free on Tuesday in a joint statement that called on the Internet giants to share more of their revenues with the media.
In a column signed by the CEOs of around 20 agencies including France’s Agence France-Presse, Britain’s Press Association and Germany’s Deutsche Presse-Agentur they called on the European Parliament to update copyright law in the EU to help address a “grotesque imbalance.”
“The Internet giants’ plundering of the news media’s content and of their advertising revenue poses a threat both to consumers and to democracy,” the column said.
European Parliament lawmakers are to set to debate a new copyright law this month that would force the Internet giants to pay more for creative content used on their platforms such as news, music or movies.
A first draft of the law was rejected in July and the plans have been firmly opposed by US tech firms, as well as advocates of Internet freedom who fear that the regulations could lead to higher costs for consumers.
“Can the titans of the Internet compensate the media without asking people to pay for access to the Internet, as they claim they would be forced to? The answer is clearly ‘yes’,” the column said.
The joint statement from the agencies, which are major suppliers of news, photos and video, said Facebook reported revenues of $40 billion (€34 billion) in 2017 and profits of $16 billion, while Google made $12.7 billion on sales of $110 billion.
“Who could reasonably argue that they are not in a position to make fair payment for the content they use?” the agencies asked.
“What we are really talking about is introducing a fair payment by those who have ripped off the news. For the sake of Europe’s free press and democratic values, EU lawmakers should press ahead with copyright reform,” they added.
The column marks a new lobbying effort by media groups, backed by artists such as Paul McCartney, to sway European lawmakers as they prepare for a second vote on September 12.
The fight is over two parts of the planned law.
The first is Article 13, which would make platforms like Google-owned YouTube legally liable for copyrighted material to prevent content producers from seeing their work posted without pay.
The second is Article 11, which would create a so-called “neighboring right” meaning that newspapers, magazines and news agencies would have to be paid when Google or other websites link to their stories.
“Without paying for it, Internet giants such as Google and Facebook use vast quantities of news that is produced at great cost by press publishers and news agencies,” added the joint statement on Tuesday.
Critics argue that the reform would lead to blanket censorship by tech platforms because of copyright problems, reducing their role as a hub for creativity, especially YouTube.
They say it would also restrict the usage of memes and remixes by everyday Internet users who often use content without securing the rights.
The column was signed by the heads of TT in Sweden, STT in Finland, Belgium’s Belga and APA from Austria, as well as other media groups across the European continent.


Vietnam jails activist for anti-government posts on Facebook

Updated 25 September 2018
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Vietnam jails activist for anti-government posts on Facebook

  • The conviction comes as communist authorities step up a crackdown on dissent
  • Some 97 activists were in jail as of April this year, according to Amnesty International

HANOI, Vietnam: A court in southern Vietnam has sentenced an activist to 27 months in prison for Facebook posts that judges say insulted the ruling Communist Party and government and called for anti-government protests.
Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, 42, was convicted “abuse of democratic freedom to infringe on the legitimate interests of the state” by the People’s Court in Ninh Kieu District in Can Tho province after a one-day trial Monday, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
The agency quoted judges as saying Quang’s actions “actively abetted hostile and reactionary forces from inside and outside the country” who want to overthrow the party and government.
Court officials were not available for comment Tuesday.
The conviction comes as communist authorities step up a crackdown on dissent. Quang was third activist to be jailed in a week on similar charges.
On Saturday, Nguyen Hong Nguyen and Truong Dinh Khang, were convicted of insulting the Communist Party and its leaders, including late founding President Ho Chi Minh, and sentenced to two years and one year respectively in separate cases in Can Tho province.
Despite sweeping economic reforms over the past 30 years that opened Vietnam to foreign investment and trade that made it one of fastest growing economies in the region, the Communist Party tolerates no challenge to its one-party rule.
Some Western governments and international human rights groups criticize Vietnam for jailing people for peacefully expressing their views. Hanoi says only lawbreakers are put behind bars.
Some 97 activists were in jail as of April this year, according to Amnesty International.