Microsoft Calls for Australian-Style Media Arbitration in EU

Posted on February 22, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google, Microsoft, Social with 23 Comments

Microsoft has joined forces with several news publishers in Europe to call on the EU to adopt Australian-style media arbitration laws.

“Europe’s press publishers and Microsoft today agreed to work together on a solution to ensure that Europe’s press publishers get paid for the use of their content by gatekeepers that have dominant market power in line with the objectives of the new neighboring right in the EU Digital Single Market Copyright Directive, which comes into force this June and to take inspiration from the new Australian legislation that requires the tech gatekeepers covered by that law to share revenue with news organizations,” Microsoft explains in long-winded fashion in its announcement post.

You probably saw the news that Google has agreed to pay news publishers in Australia rather than just steal their content as they had in the past. The trigger for this change was new legislation in that country that requires gatekeepers like Google to pay for content and then use an arbitrator if pricing talks break down. Because an Australian-based arbitrator would almost always rule in favor of the newsmakers, it behooves Google to make deals with these firms rather than face much higher prices through arbitration.

So what Microsoft is doing here is asking the EU to adopt similar legislation throughout that jurisdiction. That is, the EU should create an arbitral panel that will “establish a fair price based on an assessment of the benefits derived by each side in having the news content included on these gatekeepers’ platforms, the costs of producing this content, and any undue burden an amount would place on the platforms themselves.” And the software giant has the support of several publishers, including the European Publishers Council, News Media Europe, ENPA, and EMMA.

Microsoft’s initiative is yet another direct attack on the business models of companies like Facebook and Google, the former of which has not agreed to pay for Australian-based news and now no longer allows its users there to repost news stories that originate in that country. These so-called gatekeeper companies “undermine Europe’s press sector,” News Media Europe says. And as Microsoft notes, they should be required to share revenues with the news organizations that they’ve been stealing from.

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