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News 23 Feb 2021 - 3 min read

Microsoft and European publishers call for "Australian-style" media deals

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

A coalition of European publishers and Microsoft have called for an "Australian-style" arbitration mechanism to ensure tech giants such as Facebook and Google pay publishers for content.

What you need to know:

  • European publishers and Microsoft have called for an "Australian-style arbitration mechanism" in the wake of the current Digital Platforms Inquiry
  • The solution will mandate payments for the use of press publishers’ content by tech giants such as Google and Facebook
  • It will also work in tandem with the EU Digital Single Market Copyright Directive, which comes into force this June

The ongoing battle between the Australian Government and tech giants Google and Facebook has led to calls for a similar approach to government intervention on content payments to be rolled out across Europe.

Backed by a coalition of European publishers and supported by Microsoft, the solution will mandate payments for the use of press publishers’ content by international tech players.

It will also work in tandem with the EU Digital Single Market Copyright Directive, which comes into force this June and seeks to extract more equitable financial contributions to news media and magazine publications from tech companies.

The move by Microsoft sees it move further from its Silicon Valley rivals and take another position of support with major publishers after backing Australia's proposed legislation.

The coalition is made up of four of the largest news media lobby groups across Europe; the European Publishers Council, News Media Europe, European Newspaper Publishers' Association and European Magazine Media Association.

These groups, alongside Microsoft, will work to develop a proposed set of legal guidelines with the expectation they are included in current draft regulations - the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

"Although press publishers have been granted a neighbouring right in the EU, negotiations with such gatekeepers will not produce fair outcomes unless additional regulatory measures are brought forward to address gatekeepers with dominant market power, through appropriate regulatory frameworks such as the Digital Markets Act, Digital Services Act or other national laws," Microsoft said in a statement.

Christian Van Thillo, Chairman of the European Publishers Council welcomed Microsoft's recognition of the value of premium publishers and their content.

He said it was "crucial" that regulators aren't misled by "side deals", alluding to individual contracts that have been signed between the tech giants and publishers, such as the ones Google has since struck with major French publishers.

"It is crucial that our regulators recognise this key point, and don’t get misled into thinking that side deals on the basis of a stand-alone product are the same thing because they are not at all and undermine the neighbouring rights that we have been granted. All publishers should get an agreement – no one should be left out," Van Thillo said.

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