back to article Microsoft sides with media groups, together they urge Europe to follow Australia's lead, make Google, Facebook pay for news article links

Microsoft and four European press industry trade groups on Monday urged the European Union to introduce new laws that would require websites like Google and Facebook to pay publishers for using news content on their platforms. The group didn't precisely define what this press content is, though we would imagine it includes …

  1. don't you hate it when you lose your account

    Two minds

    This had to happen, wish it'd been much sooner. But still feel it's tilted to protect the old monopoly. Maybe they should include a clause which makes the likes of Fox pay to publish lies. That seems fair

  2. Potemkine! Silver badge

    So now Google will have to pay publishers to link to their articles that are behind a paywall?

    Stop the hypocrisy: news corporations don't give a fuck about democracy. They are not a public service, they are here to make money.

    1. sgp

      Sure but that doesn't make the parasitic business model of Google or Facebook any better.

      1. Naich

        It is possible for both sides in a dispute to be arseholes.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        As Germany and Spain found out, it's not particularly parasitical if your advertusing revenue drops 90% without those links

        Once upon a time newspapers made virttally 100% of their income from classified ads and for most of the last 200 years the "cover" price was only slightly higher than the "rag" price of paper/ink - there to prevent ragmen simply taking all the free copies (free was tried, that's WHY there's a cover price. There's also a perception that paying for news is better quality than free news)

        They lost that income to Internet fleamarket sites very early on and have been in a spiral death dive ever since (lost revenue, cutbacks in jourmalism, lost sales due to poor journalism and online readership cannabilising paper sales, plus intrusive advertising annoying readers and paywals not paying their way all helping rvenue go down even further)

    2. Wade Burchette

      Exactly right. People do not realize that news organization are entertainment. As such, all of them lie, or conveniently not tell you the whole truth. I pity the person who thinks only Fox News lies, but their news outlet tells the truth. Wrong, wrong, wrong. CNN lies just as much. The BBC lies just as much. Everyone of them lies just as much. If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you're misinformed.

      The only time I trust the news is when they say something that goes against their narrative.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Fox "News" is not a news corporation, exactly so it can't be penalized for lying, unlike CNN or the BBC

      2. gypsythief

        I am a bit surprised...

        ...that this comment has garnered a majority of down-votes, for its fundamental tenant - all the media outlets are entertainment business who engage in erm... "truth manipulation" for sales seems quite true to me.

        I do wonder if this sentence has been misinterpreted: "I pity the person who thinks only Fox News lies, but their news outlet tells the truth". On first read through, I took this to mean that "their" referred to Fox News, i.e. "I pity the person who thinks only Fox News lies, but Fox News tells the truth"

        I then re-read it as "I pity the person who thinks only Fox News lies, but the news outlet *the person* reads tells the truth", which made much more sense.

        I would like to quote Paul Simon here, from his song "Have a Good Time:"

        "I don't believe what I read in the papers / They're just out to capture my dime"

        That was written back in 1975. Nothing much has changed in 46 years...

  3. Duncan Macdonald

    What a surprise

    Microsoft hates Google - Google has a far better search than Bing and its Android product has killed Windows Mobile - both of which have curtailed M$ dreams of being the omnipotent force in computing. Remember the many M$ shill organizations that urged the EU to crack down on Google years back.

    Google is not perfect - but it is far better than M$. Would you have expected products like Google Maps (with StreetView) and Google Earth from M$ free of charge ?

    1. BrownishMonstr

      Re: What a surprise

      Old Mcdonald has a grudge. E-I-E-I-O.

    2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: What a surprise

      I must admit that was my first thought - Microsoft wouldn't consider supporting it unless they thought there was money in it for them.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What a surprise

        Or at least a touch of "My enemy's enemy is my friend".

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: What a surprise

          "My enemy's enemy is my friend".

          Not reliably though. Only until my enemy's enemy sees an advantage in changing sides (or indeed attacking us both).

        2. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: What a surprise

          Maxim 29. The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. No more. No less.

          Seriously though, Microsoft killed Windows Mobile with its bad decisions. It was actually a fairly decent phone.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "Google is not perfect - but it is far better than M$"

      What? Google is the new Microsoft. Maybe you can't see it because of the free bones it throws at you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Google is not perfect - but it is far better than M$"

        You're under no obligation to use it.

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Re: What a surprise

      Umm multimap

      That was so much better than anything else I have seen.

    5. Falmari Silver badge

      Stop fighting old battles

      Stop fighting old battles and look at today’s reality, there are bigger threats than Microsoft today. Google are more powerful than Microsoft and just as bad as Microsoft were or are, IMHO they are worse.

      Everything companies like Microsoft and Google to name just two do is in pursuit of profit. Microsoft are supporting the Australian code for Microsoft’s benefit. But Google are no different, Google Maps (with StreetView) and Google Earth are not really free. But even if they were free it is because they believe it will lead to profit down the line. These services will be:-

      a) Generating money through ads.

      b) Not making money now but expected to make money in the future.

      c) A loss leader to keep you in the Google eco-system to earn them money.

      Just remove your blinkers and stop focusing only on Microsoft, it can’t be that difficult. Its easy as easy as ABC I mean Alphabet.

  4. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "... pay publishers for linking to news content on their platforms"

    Maybe I'm mistaken, but "linking" doesn't seem to be the issue. It seems instead to be summarising. In these days of TL:DR, the summary can deflect readers from the original news item as the impatient will just read the summary but not follow the link. So the "linking" platform gets a free ride on news generated by others. Sounds a bit like the general principle on which Farcebook has always operated.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: "... pay publishers for linking to news content on their platforms"

      The problem of summarising should be catered for by the news site including appropriate metadata, robots.txt and so on, surely? I'm sure there is a metadata element that you can use that displays in search results instead of an autogenerated summary.

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: "... pay publishers for linking to news content on their platforms"

        There is but if you put garbage in it expect not to feature on the first page of those search results. Also expect that garbage to show whenever someone shares a link to your site on Teams, Slack, Discord, Whatsapp, email, SMS, etc making you look bad. And if you don't put garbage in it then they are using your content, exactly the problem in the first place.

    2. Duncan Macdonald

      Re: "... pay publishers for linking to news content on their platforms"

      One thing that Google and FB could easily do - license Reuters feed for Australian news and only display that . If they did then they would comply with the letter of the law while hurting Australian media outlets (ie Murdoch) even more.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: "... pay publishers for linking to news content on their platforms"

        They already complied with the law by not showing any news, but that got the Australian government very angry. How dare they decide not to do the thing that the law was created to prevent them from doing? It seems as if the point of these laws is to take money from tech and give it to publishers, not to fix tech's abuses. I'm not even sure they can really explain what those abuses are, although they clearly exist. The way the law is formulated seems tailor-made not to actually change anything.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: "... pay publishers for linking to news content on their platforms"

      It doesn't matter whether linking was the "issue". (It wasn't; attempting to shore up a failed business model was the issue.1) That's what the law, as written, governs. Masnick's discussions on Techdirt went into the actual language of the law in some detail. Under the law, linking with no quoting or summarizing would still have accrued charges; and what's more, a site such as Facebook couldn't choose which of the applicable news organizations to link to. It had to be all or none.

      The whole thing was entirely without merit and an affront to the concept of the World Wide Web. Australia has not "won" anything. They've made yet another mess through their own short-sighted stupidity.

      1Don't blame me. I like newspapers. My wife and I still buy and read the excellent local weekly paper, and we often read some of the national papers online. (I don't much like reading newspapers online, but getting these in print isn't an option where we are.) But as others have pointed out, advertisement, and particularly classified ads, were the critical revenue streams supporting the traditional newspaper business, and they're gone now. Attempting to ruin the web by seeking rents won't fix that.

    4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Sorry, thought it was obvious

      Apologies, we thought it was obvious that when talking about links to news articles that it includes the titles and summaries that Google, Facebook, Twitter etc automatically generate when presenting the link.

      The link text has to have some part of the publisher's content in it - the headline or the opening sentence - to be simply visible on the page.

      The article also did note that "both Google and Facebook feared Oz's bargaining code would embolden publishers in other nations to demand royalties for using headlines, snippets of text, and article links in search results." So, yes, it's more than just links.

      BTW Microsoft etc left it open ended on what exactly should be paid for. I've now made it as clear as I can that we're talking about more than just simply a link, though.


  5. Scott Broukell

    Presumably then each and every FB user can now individually negotiate a price with FB which equates to the value of their own personal data set which FB continues to harvest - just a thought.

  6. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Rupert Murdoch Takes on Facebook and Google in Australia, Others Look to Follow

    Rupert Murdoch Takes on Facebook and Google in Australia, Others Look to Follow

    "He is relentless against anyone who takes advertisers or viewers from his empire, be that government broadcasters like the ABC and the BBC or the Big Tech firms," Mayne said. "He will prevail on getting (the UK and Australian) governments to take punitive action against Big Tech."

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Microsoft has sided with publishers"

    I wonder what the decision would have been if FaceBook belonged to Microsoft ?

    Microsoft survives today for two reasons : 1) it's bottomless pit of money, and 2) Windows and Office, which are the defacto standards of computing.

    Everything else Borkzilla has tried has basically failed to bring in money. Windows Phone is only the latest disaster, there have been others. Borkzilla is in the back seat on the Internet, it is no longer calling the shots.

    I wonder if it is going to start a news outlet. Being paid by Google & FB would certainly be the ultimate irony.

  8. naive

    Interesting development

    It is hard to predict where this will lead.

    Not buying rights from conservative media would give them a legal excuse for being "biased" in search results.

    Not sure if this will help finishing off the destructive influence of Big Tech on society, democracy and the monopolies they built.

  9. Graham Cobb Silver badge

    Massive new barrier to entry/growth

    French President Emmanuel Macron also rubber-stamped a copyright-based law in his Euro nation that stated publishers must be repaid if their content is reused online.

    So France has decided to bolster the duopoly of Google/Facebook and make it impossible for any small but better competitors to ever appear?

  10. MJI Silver badge


    I do not use them, nor anything from their empire. The demented wallnut can eff off!

    As to the use of google news, I use it simply as a news search engine, not displayed, may not get seen.

  11. not.known@this.address

    missing the point?

    It seems people are so wrapped up congratulating Facebook for attempting to "hit Murdoch where it hurts" that they are missing the most important point; if social media "summarises" the news collected by reporters paid by the news agencies and doesn't pay for it, who will pay the wages of the reporters? Sooner or later, the news agencies will run out of money for paying staff and will lay them all off, so who will social media get their "summaries" from then?

    And, more importantly, what will the reporters and other staff laid off by the news agencies do to earn a living? It's a pretty safe bet Murdoch has enough to live on for quite some time so he might be mildly inconvenienced, but how many of the staff his corporations employ are in the same position?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: missing the point?

      These are perfectly good concerns. The problem as I see it is that these laws aren't likely to help with that. Just because Google gives some money to some publishers in order to link to their content doesn't mean those publishers are going to do good things with it. Also, they're likely to only make such connections with the very big news organizations. Smaller journalists won't get paid, but could still file complaints, and Google will probably deal with that by deprioritizing them in search results.

      We need to identify what the true problem is and take steps which directly fixes the problem.

      If the problem is overquoting which means people don't click through, fine. We can solve that problem. Quoting of more than one sentence is now a copyright violation. You can link, but the only text you can show is a headline or one sentence of the content. That should fix the quoting problem. If quoting is not the problem, then what is? Because the law as it exists now doesn't restrict quoting. In fact, it either allows tech companies to continue quoting for a token payment or restricts everything, from linking to quoting, if there's no payment. That's fragile at best, but more likely completely ineffective.

      1. canthinkofagoodname

        Re: missing the point?

        Australian Copyright law already has some provision for the quoting side; in essence, you can list headlines and quote snippets of an article provided that summary does not provide enough info that you don't need to read the article as a whole (IANAL, paraphrasing what I recall reading today).

        The driver for the News Media Code, or justification, is the combination of:

        - Ad revenue which would previously have sustained the news media businesses is now going to Google / FB et alia; and

        - News Media Business cannot survive without digital platforms like Google / FB.

        It's a measure of redistributing wealth from nominated digital platforms, and news media. No copyright issues at all.

        To be clear, I don't support the code; I'm both Australian and have serious concerns about the News Media Oligopoly that is News Corp (Murdoch) and Nine-Fairfax here down-under, and this measure only succeeds in reinforcing that grip those two media moguls have.

  12. Spanners Silver badge

    Will they get refunds fir lies?

    If when a sizeable quantity of what they will link to turns out to be lies, they should get refunded several times what the initial cost was.

    Neither Australia, the USA or the UK have much free press. The majority of it is owned by old white guys.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Murdoch, Australia’s most toxic export

    Meddling crypt-dodger.

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