(CN) – Press agencies across the European Union called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would force internet giants to pay for profiting off of copyrighted news content.
In a plea published Dec. 13 in the French newspaper Le Monde, the nine press agencies said Facebook, Google and others are posting huge profits “from other people’s work.”
“Facebook has become the biggest media in the world. Yet neither Facebook nor Google have a newsroom. They do not have journalists in Syria risking their lives, nor a bureau in Zimbabwe investigating Mugabe’s departure, nor editors to check and verify information sent in by reporters on the ground,” the agencies said.
They added news is the second reason – after catching up with family and friends – why people log on to Facebook, which saw its profits triple to $10 billion in 2016. And both Facebook and Google have seen huge increases in their ad revenue, while media outlets have seen their plummet.
“Access to free information is supposedly one of the great victories of the internet. But it is a myth,” the agencies said.
“At the end of the chain, informing the public costs a lot of money.”
Getting the European Parliament to agree on the legislation may be easier said than done, however, with many members worried the bill will threaten free access to news on the internet. But the press agencies said users would not be affected.
“Internet users would not be touched,” the agencies said. “Simply those who now pocket a disproportionate part of advertising revenue would have to share a significant part of it with those who actually produce the information.”
The appeal to lawmakers was signed by France’s AFP, the German agency DPA, Britain’s Press Association, Spanish agency EFE, Italy’s ANSA, Sweden’s TT, Belga of Belgium, Austrian agency APA and the Dutch agency ANP.