Regulation

Facebook, Google, Publishers Go Head-To-Head Over ‘Digital Use’ Payments

The European Parliament is set to vote this week on copyright legislation that would make media internet platforms pay for the content that appears on their sites.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the vote will take place on Wednesday (September 12) on a draft copyright directive that would force internet platforms to pay for certain content, such as copyrighted music playing in the background of an uploaded home video.

The legislation has sparked a fierce debate pitting publishers, music companies and movie directors against internet giants including Facebook and Google.

In July, the vote on the legislation was pushed back after EU lawmakers shied away from taking a “tough line” on the way revenues would be shared. Among the critics of the proposal: the trade body that is known as EDiMA, a consortium that sports members such as Apple and Facebook and Microsoft, which cautioned against such practices as dictated by the proposal, citing censorship.

The vote will now include more than 200 proposed amendments. If passed, EU countries would have up to two years to implement the new rules, which would be enforced by member countries.

Celebrities including Paul McCartney and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales are lobbying for and against the law, respectively, while EU legislators have received hundreds of emails against the draft text on some days.

Media companies, particularly publishers, say their business has been severely hurt through the sharing of published materials that provide them little or no revenue. That behavior is theft, said Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of German publisher Axel Springer SE. But the new law would give these publishers the opportunity to negotiate payment for “digital use” of their content.

“If somebody else can just steal what you have created,” Mr. Döpfner told a conference organized by German rival Hubert Burda Media in Brussels, “then this is just a hopeless case for content creators.”

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