Canada unveils legislative proposal to force Facebook and Google to pay for news

According to reports, Canada released Tuesday the details of proposed legislation that would force Facebook and Google to negotiate business deals with news publishers and pay for content. This is similar to the groundbreaking law Australia introduced last year.

Canadian journalism is in crisis,” Culture Minister Pablo Rodriguez said at a news conference as the bill was introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. The bill called the Online News Act and code-named C-18 in the House of Commons would require digital platforms with uneven bargaining power (measured in terms of global revenue) to strike a fair deal with news organizations, which would then be reviewed by regulators.

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If such deals don’t meet a set of metrics laid out in the bill, platforms must go through mandatory premiums and an arbitration process by Canada’s broadcast and telecommunications regulators. Canada will take the same approach as Australia’s law, which already mandates that Alphabet’s Google and Meta Platforms’ Facebook pay media companies for content that appears on their platforms, setting an example for other countries.

Canada’s news media industry has pressed Facebook for more government regulation of tech companies to make up for the losses they have suffered over the years as Facebook and Google steadily expanded their advertising businesses. More than 450 news organizations have closed in Canada since 2008, including 64 in the past two years.

Facebook and Google have voluntarily agreed to invest $1 billion in global news projects over three years. Rodriguez said the Canadian government is in talks with the two companies.

“They are open to regulation … we have a very open and friendly conversation,” he said.

In separate statements, Google and Facebook said they were both evaluating the proposed legislation and hoped to cooperate with the Canadian government. The legislation would cover news businesses operating in Canada, including newspapers and news magazines that serve Canada digitally, allowing them to negotiate with tech companies individually or collectively.

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