Plan to make Google pay for news hits rocks

16 Feb 2017

Europe’s press barons thought they’d scored a major victory last fall when the European Commission threw its weight behind their idea to create a special protection for digital journalism, the linchpin of their strategy for long-term survival. But now the plan threatens to come undone.

Advocates of the reform say it would force the globe-spanning fat cats of the internet — platforms like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, which use outside news content to attract eyeballs without paying a single cent — to compensate Europe’s publishers for use of their content. Much as radio stations pay fees to music publishers to play their songs, the companies would compensate news outlets for carrying their content.

If the reform goes through, the victory would reverberate around the world, with publishers in other regions likely to demand similar treatment. Less than six months after the Commission unveiled its proposal, however, the prospects for a so-called publisher’s right are murkier than ever amid growing doubts the plan can win enough support in the European Parliament.

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