EU countries back copyright reform targeting Google, Facebook

EU countries on Monday endorsed an overhaul of the bloc’s two-decade old copyright rules targeting Google and Facebook. (AFP)
Updated 15 April 2019
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EU countries back copyright reform targeting Google, Facebook

  • An overhaul of the bloc’s two-decade old copyright rules target Google and Facebook
  • Nineteen countries voted in favor while six were against and three abstained

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s bid to overhaul its two-decade old copyright rules cleared its final hurdle on Monday as EU governments backed the move forcing Google to pay publishers for news snippets and Facebook to filter out protected content.

Nineteen countries, including France and Germany, endorsed the revamp while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden were against. Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia abstained.

The European Parliament gave its green light last month to a proposal that has pitted Europe’s creative industry against tech companies, Internet activists and consumer groups, triggering intense lobbying from both sides.

The European Commission kicked off the debate two years ago, saying the rules needed to be revised to protect the bloc’s creative industries which is worth €915 billion ($1 trillion) and employs 11.65 million people.

Under the new rules, Google and other online platforms will have to sign licensing agreements with musicians, performers, authors, news publishers and journalists to use their work online.

Google’s YouTube, Facebook’s Instagram and other sharing platforms will also have to install filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials.


Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

Updated 18 July 2019
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Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

  • India is among the last big growth markets for the company
  • Netflix faces competition from Amazon’s Prime Video and Walt Disney Co’s Hotstar
Netflix said on Wednesday it would roll out a lower-priced mobile-only plan in India within the next three months to tap into a price-sensitive market at a time the streaming company is losing customers in its home turf.
India is among the last big growth markets for the company, where it faces competition from Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Video and Hotstar, a video streaming platform owned by Walt Disney Co’s India unit.
Netflix lost US streaming customers for the first time in eight years on Wednesday, when it posted quarterly results. It also missed targets for new subscribers overseas.
“India is a mobile-first nation, where many first-time users are experiencing the Internet on their phones. In such a scenario, a mobile-only package makes sense to target new users,” said Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpoint Research.
The creator of “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” said in March that it was testing a 250-rupee ($3.63) monthly subscription for mobile devices in India, where data plans are among the cheapest in the world.
The country figures prominently in Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings’ global expansion plans.
“We believe this plan, which will launch in the third quarter, will be an effective way to introduce a larger number of people in India to Netflix and to further expand our business,” the company said in a letter to investors released late on Wednesday.
Netflix currently offers three monthly plans in India, priced between 500 rupees ($7.27) and 800 rupees $11.63).
It has created a niche following in the country by launching local original shows like the thriller “Sacred Games” and dystopian tale “Leila,” which feature popular Bollywood actors.
The second season of “Sacred Games” is set to release in August.
In contrast, Hotstar, which also offers content from AT&T Inc’s HBO and also streams live sports, charges 299 rupees ($4.35) per month. Amazon bundles its video and music streaming services with its Prime membership.
“We’ve been seeing nice steady increases in engagement with our Indian viewers that we think we can keep building on. Growth in that country is a marathon, so we’re in it for the long haul,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said.