Google says that the European Parliament’s version of a new copyright directive will have consequences for smaller news publishers, limit innovation in journalism and reduce choice for European consumers.
Europe is updating its copyright rules these rules for this digital age. Google says it agrees with that, but calls on policymakers to fix some issues in the final text of the directive, and not follow the European Parliament’s version of the new copyright directive -specifically Article 11 and its recital 32.
Article 11 generally seeks to protect journalists and their work. However, Google says that the specific article requires online services to strike commercial deals with publishers to show hyperlinks and short snippets of news. This means that search engines, news aggregators, apps, and platforms would have to put commercial licences in place, and make decisions about which content to include on the basis of those licensing agreements and which to leave out.
"Effectively, companies like Google will be put in the position of picking winners and losers," said Richard Gingras Head of News, Google. "Online services, some of which generate no revenue (for instance, Google News) would have to make choices about which publishers they’d do deals with," he added.
Presently, more than 80,000 news publishers around the world can show up in Google News, but Article 11 would reduce that number. And this is not just about Google, it’s unlikely any business will be able to license every single news publisher in the European Union, especially given the very broad definition being proposed.
This would mostly benefit larger players.
Not only might this harm individual news publishers, it also risks reducing consumers’ ability to discover and access a diversity of views and opinions.
"We believe the information we show should be based on quality, not on payment. And we believe it’s not in the interest of European citizens to change that," Gingras said.
Today Google drives economic value to publishers by sending people to news sites over 10 billion times a month. That free traffic has enabled many smaller or emerging publishers to get discovered, grow a business, and find success online.
"The copyright directive should give all publishers the right to control their own business models and destiny by giving them the choice to waive the need for a commercial license for their content. Publishers – big and small – should continue to be able to make their own choices about how their content can be discovered and how they want to make money with that content," the head of Google News added.
The exact language of the new rules is being determined in the next few weeks.