EPC Questions Platform's Gatekeeper role in “Google News Experience”
On 25 June, Google presented their new news media strategy which is to be launched later this year. The licensing programme is designed to assist participating publishers, according to Google, to reach their consumers through a Google defined 'enhanced storytelling experience'.
EPC members want to see more details though as it is very unclear what this programme means in practice and whether the scheme will respect the rules of the new Copyright law at European level.
According to the European Publishers Council (EPC), Google’s announcement that they will commence licensing audio, video, images and articles from news organisations for a new “Google news experience” later this year, raises yet more questions about the gate-keeper role played by Google in determining the news experience of readers.
EPC’s Executive Director Angela Mills Wade said today: “It is important to recognise that it should be the norm that dominant platforms agree terms and pay for the content which they curate and profit from; the current state of play, whereby no licences are concluded with Google, is an unacceptable exception. Therefore, it’s high time that all Member States implemented the new EU-level Publisher’s Neighbouring Right that was brought in specifically to grant press publishers clearer legal rights and stronger negotiating positions when dealing with dominant platforms.”
The EPC understands that this new feature will be available on Google’s primary mobile app and on mobile devices using the Android operating system, accessible with a swipe on the home screen. The licensed content will also be built into the Google News app for every mobile device, and eventually on other Google products too.
The EPC questions the role Google is assuming for itself when it is offering to pay to grant free access to users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site which, according to Google, will “let paywalled publishers grow their audiences and open an opportunity for people to read content they might not ordinarily see.”
More details are needed to assess fully the scope of this new licensing scheme.
Angela Mills Wade said: “We don’t yet know how comprehensive this licensing scheme will be, on what basis payments will be calculated, and whether or not it will be open to all news publishers, large or small, who wish to licence their content. Meanwhile, Google continues to use the content of most publishers and journalists without negotiation or payment. It is essential that dominant platforms play by the rules set by European law and negotiate with publishers in good faith."
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