News Media Alliance Slams Google Copyright Campaign

News outlets took aim at Google Friday, saying its "Together for Copyright" campaign belied the facts that the European Union

Copyright Directive proposal the campaign is citicizing protects publishers and that the changes Google is pushing would limit access to "high-quality" online news in Europe.

"Currently, online platforms such as Google and other corporate businesses can use – and make money from – publishers’ online news content every day, paying the publishers nothing," said the News Media Alliance. "For obvious reasons, Google would prefer to keep the status quo and go on using publishers’ content for free, but this is not a fair and equitable arrangement for news publishers, many of whom are already struggling with decreased revenues from shifting preferences away from print, and advertisers electing to give their dollars to the platforms."

Under the Publishers Right, Google would have to negotiate for a license with publishers to distribute their news in EU countries and would be liable for any infringing uses of copyrighted material on their platforms at the time it is uploaded, rather than having the notice and takedown process as there is in the U.S.

The Alliance said Google is making false claims about the Publisher's Right, a right film and music creators in the EU already have.

Google has said the EU proposal has "unintended consequences" that could threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs and lead to the blocking or limiting of content on YouTube and Google Search.

"Any service that hosts uploads, including YouTube, would be held liable at the moment of upload for any copyright infringement," says Google of the EU proposal. "Services could have no choice but to block existing and newly uploaded videos in the European Union with unknown or disputed copyright information, in order to avoid legal liability."

Google also wants the EU to define the "quality journalism" that should be protected, a definition "that specifies news content by news publishers."

"Google claims it wants to help journalists find an audience and make a living, yet the changes they are proposing to Article 11 would weaken publishers’ rights to protect their content," says the Alliance. "Contrary to what Google claims in its campaign, adopting a strong Publishers’ Right would ensure the public’s continued access to a diverse pool of information online."

The alliance has told the Federal Trade Commission that edge giants like Google and Facebook are using their market power to force practices on their members that threaten the viability of the news business.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.