Journalists urge action against Google over EU copyright dispute

The new Google Pixelnook Go laptop is on display during a Google product launch event called Made by Google 19 on October 15, 2019 in New York City. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2019

Journalists urge action against Google over EU copyright dispute

  • Around 800 journalists as well as photographers, filmmakers and media CEOs signed an open letter published in newspapers across Europe urging governments to ensure that Google and other tech firms comply with the new EU rule

PARIS: Hundreds of journalists called Wednesday for European officials to take action against Google over its refusal to pay media companies for displaying their content in defiance of a strict new EU copyright law.
France was the first country to ratify the law, which was passed this year and comes into force on Thursday to ensure publishers are compensated when their work is displayed online.
But Google said last month that articles, pictures and videos would be shown in search results only if media firms consent to let the tech giant use it for free.
If they refuse, only a headline and a bare link to the content will appear, Google said, almost certainly resulting in a loss of visibility and potential ad revenue for the publisher.
Around 800 journalists as well as photographers, filmmakers and media CEOs signed an open letter published in newspapers across Europe urging governments to ensure that Google and other tech firms comply with the new EU rule.
“The law risks being stripped of all meaning before it even comes into force,” the letter said, calling Google’s move “a fresh insult to national and European sovereignty.”
“The existing situation, in which Google enjoys most of the advertising revenue generated by the news that it rakes in without any payment, is untenable and has plunged the media into a crisis that is deepening each year,” it said.
The presidents of the European Alliance of News Agencies and the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association also signed the letter.

Google has countered that it benefits news publishers by sending more than eight billion visits to their websites each month in Europe alone.
“We don’t pay for links to be included in search results” because “it would undermine the trust of users,” Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president in charge of news, said in Paris last month.
But news publishers, including AFP, say such links to their websites are unable to help them cope with plummeting revenues as readers migrate online from traditional media outlets.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said Google will have to comply with the law, and the European Commission said it stands ready to assist member states, which must translate into domestic legislation by June 2021.
The new rules create so-called neighboring rights to ensure a form of copyright protection — and compensation — for media firms when their content is used on websites such as search engines or social media platforms.
“Now that disinformation campaigns are infecting the Internet and social networks, and independent journalism is under attack in several countries within the European Union, surrendering would be a catastrophe,” said the open letter.
“We call on the public decision-makers to fight back.”
 


After Facebook staff walkout, Zuckerberg defends no action on Trump posts

Updated 02 June 2020

After Facebook staff walkout, Zuckerberg defends no action on Trump posts

  • A group of Facebook employees complained the company should have acted against Trump’s posts about protests
  • Zuckerberg told employees Facebook had conducted a thorough review and was right to leave the posts unchallenged

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Tuesday that he stood by his decision not to challenge inflammatory posts by US President Donald Trump, refusing to give ground a day after staff members staged a rare public protest.
A group of Facebook employees — nearly all of them working at home due to the coronavirus pandemic — walked off the job on Monday. They complained the company should have acted against Trump’s posts about protests containing the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Zuckerberg told employees Facebook had conducted a thorough review and was right to leave the posts unchallenged, a company spokeswoman said. She said Zuckerberg also acknowledged the decision had upset many people working at the company.
On Friday, Twitter Inc. affixed a warning label to a Trump tweet about widespread protests over the death of a black man in Minnesota that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Twitter said the post violated its rules against glorifying violence but was left up as public interest exception, with reduced options for interactions and distribution.
Facebook declined to act on the same message, and Zuckerberg sought to distance his company from the fight between the president and Twitter. He maintained that while he found Trump’s remarks “deeply offensive,” they did not violate company policy against incitements to violence.
One employee, who had tweeted his dissent on Monday, posted on Twitter his disappointment with Facebook executives.
“It’s crystal clear today that leadership refuses to stand with us,” Brandon Dail wrote on Twitter. Dail’s LinkedIn profile describes him as a user interface engineer at Facebook in Seattle.
Timothy Aveni, a junior software engineer on Facebook’s team dedicated to fighting misinformation, announced on Monday that he was resigning his position.
“Mark always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence. He showed us on Friday that this was a lie. Facebook will keep moving the goalposts every time Trump escalates, finding excuse after excuse not to act,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Civil rights leaders who attended an hour-long video call on Monday night with Zuckerberg and top Facebook executives called the CEO’s explanations for allowing Trump’s posts to stay up “incomprehensible.”
“He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump’s call for violence against protesters,” said a joint statement from leaders of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Color of Change.