Canadian government to introduce law forcing big tech to pay for news

Canada’s federal government on Tuesday introduced legislation requiring tech giants to pay news publishers for the use of their content on their various platforms.

The Online News Act, or House of Commons Bill C-18, would require ubiquitous tech companies such as Google and Facebook, as well as other online platforms that reproduce or share news content, to either indemnify these news organizations or go through arbitration led by the Canadian Broadcasting and Media Commission. Canadian Telecommunications (CRTC). Companies such as Facebook, Google and other digital platforms that have “a bargaining imbalance with news organizations” would be required to enter into “fair trade agreements” with newspapers, news magazines, news outlets online, private and public broadcasters and non-Canadian news media who meet certain criteria.

These content providers will now be empowered to enter into agreements with large technology companies without any government intervention.

According to a primer distributed to journalists, the compensation to be paid by these tech giants must be used to finance the creation of news content to ensure the “survival of the Canadian news ecosystem”.

News agencies have been particularly hard hit by the dominance of companies such as Facebook and Google, which have gobbled up more than 80% of online advertising revenue in Canada. Ad revenue is the lifeblood of news agencies, and with tech giants accounting for the lion’s share of revenue, other news agencies are weakened, especially now that classifieds and print subscriptions are no longer salable.

Culture Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Canada’s news agencies should be adequately compensated for helping Google and Facebook attract more users.

Google and Facebook use news content on their sites “without really having to pay for it. With this bill, we seek to address that market imbalance,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez also said the companies have been notified of the legislation and the two are reviewing the bill. They pledged to invest $1 billion each over three years to fund journalistic efforts worldwide.

Canada is adapting the Australian model to keep Big Tech under control. Australia is the first country to actually force Big Tech to pay for the use of third-party news content.

The president of News Media Canada and vice-president of Brunswick News, a New Brunswick-based newspaper chain, Jamie Irving, welcomed the development, saying the legislation would “level the playing field and give news publishers of Canada a fair chance and would not require additional taxpayer funds.”

However, several sectors have criticized the bill, saying it undermines freedom of the press and will make more news organizations dependent on CRTC-brokered deals with big tech companies.

“This represents nothing less than a government-backed overhaul that risks undermining the independence of the press, increasing reliance on big tech and harming competition and media investment. Canadians,” said Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and Electronic Commerce. law at the University of Ottawa.