Microsoft Calls for Australian-Style Media Arbitration in EU

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

23 responses to “Microsoft Calls for Australian-Style Media Arbitration in EU”

  1. divodd

    Sure let's give Rupert Murdoch extortion power everywhere - this remains morally wrong no matter where it happens

  2. shmuelie

    I'm just waiting for Facebook to "pull out" of EU member states....

  3. navarac

    All the comments re-Google are missing the point as Google have signed up to pay up. It's FACEBOOK that withdrew its services, and hooray for that!

  4. nbplopes

    In reply to Pungkuss:

    If you think businesses have a the free choice of to be or not to be in Google search, you must live in the la la land. Furthermore being in Google Search does not automatically translate into being in any other of their products such as Google News or music lyrics. Which seams to be the source of contention.

    So the same polítitians that approved this law as are investigating Murdoch. Which just reinforces this decision.

  5. wright_is

    Oh, brother! No.

    What Google and Facebook is doing is wrong, but the solution in Australia is also not the solution. This is a case where both sides need to lose...

  6. JH_Radio

    Hmmm. s why Europe and not the US?

  7. jimchamplin

    This is one of the single biggest threats to a free internet that exists. If it’s enshrined in law that one can put a price on a link, then expect Balkanization of the whole damn thing.

    I’m not saying that the producers don’t deserve to be paid, but this is the wrong solution.

  8. jjonas51

    I don't know what to think about this. How is it stealing if they're linking to the specific content or article? Do their news feeds simply scrape info and not attribute / redirect to the creators site?

    • dftf

      In reply to jjonas51:

      Google has something called "AMP" (Accelerated Mobile Pages) where some pages are rendered in a simplified format and by Google, so you wouldn't go-through to their actual site. This is about the only reasonable thing I could understand to complain about.

      But on a desktop browser, any link I click on Google News always takes me through-to the website for the linked headline.

      So... I still find this issue to have blown-up way-more than I think it ever should have. Just simply say "Google News must only provide a headline and nothing else, and every click must go-through to the website whose headline is being linked to" and be done

    • Greg Green

      In reply to jjonas51:

      When I log on using my ipad half the stories do not lead to the originator, but are a reprint on google. There's a link to go to the originator's site. I just tried it on my desktop and all stories go to the originator.

      I don't know if this difference is due to an ipad peculiarity or due to mobile access vs desktop.

    • mikegalos

      In reply to jjonas51:

      Yes. In some of their products they scrape the content and while they attribute it they don't redirect so they get all the ad revenue because the users' needs are met through their product's deep link rather than going to the actual news provider's site.

  9. scovious

    This is smart, the EU is much more likely to enforce laws for fairness in competition than other places in the world. If it succeeds there would be a strong precedent for the US to follow, I assume that's their plan.

  10. toukale

    Microsoft is just trolling, nothing to see here folks.

  11. vladimir

    I don't really understand why Microsoft gets involved in this matter. Is it just to charge against google? Weren't they friends with everyone?

  12. RobertJasiek

    I just want to understand what exactly this is about. When, in Germany, I use Google searching for, e.g., Corona, I get the following:

    • list of weblinks: page title in one row, contents preview in 2 rows
    • statistical diagram of number of new Corona cases, source stated
    • list to news articles: newspaper, page title in one row, contents preview in 2 rows

    Nothing of this is a proper citation. Is this the problem that Google does not cite properly?

    In a list, is every page title a violation of copyright because Google does not cite properly? Is every contents preview in 2 rows a violation of copyright because Google does not cite properly?

    Is the statistical diagram a violation of copyright because statement of the source is insufficient data for copyright purposes? Is the statistical diagram too much information beyond what citation would allow? Has Google agreed on a treaty with the source of the statistical diagram a therefore may show it already on the web search result page? (Similarly, during US elections, we got to see related data and diagrams already on the web search result page.)

    So what aspects are being disputed as copyright infringements at all and what are not? Would Google simply be allowed to continue as it has if only Google did cite properly for each page title and contents preview in 2 rows on each search result page? Can Google do so automatically, such as providing the name of the author of each entry?

    • Greg Green

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      I thought the original problem was Google News, not search. Half the time on mobile google news leads me to someone else's story on a google page. The other half I go to the originator's website.

      I'm not a regular user of google news, I just tested it a few times.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      The main problem is not Google Search, but what it does beyond. As for instance selecting top stories across the web .... But more importantly services such as Google News. Try and download Google News for the iPhone or the iPad and you see a service based on other organizations content that is than monetizes by Google around this service.

      Just the other day saw a documentary about Google. Initially the aim was to index the able and make it easily searchable by everyone. Kind of a Rosetta Stone. But the aim as mutated. They started using the same data used for indexing to than monetize it indirectly through mass surveillance mechanism that can shape news and people’s behaviour.

      In theory digital services founded on “free” digital assets should be kept free unless agreed to with the suppliers. If suppliers do not agree than it should be payed or removed.

      For instance, say a Thurrot article. I could easily extract a synopsis and put in say an app. But if to access that synposys than I charge one way or another for it, say for instance surrounding it with other data while the synopsis is at the center of interest, than a case could be made for retribution if the traffic direct is not enough form of payment.

      The reality of people behaviour is that more and more use things such as Google News to scan for news rather than the sites themselves. So its not true that indeed customers are being directed to those services. Publishers must see this trend on their analysis. Even in terms of Ads. Advertisers move from those sites out to these scanners, because they are the ones that get the most views. While at the center, what makes these services really useful, that is content, the news, get 00000000000000000. Try this, imagine Google News with no news ... yes, worth 0!!!! This simple litmus to ascertain the raw materials over which the service is built should be enough to understand why probably there is a case for payment.

  13. navarac

    So that will take 7 years to sort out then? The EU couldn't sort itself out of a paper bag, anymore it could about Covid vaccines.

  14. Chris_Kez

    This is a terrible idea, and Microsoft should not be anywhere near this.