In a move which echoes Australia’s new law which seeks to force platforms to pay for news, EU lawmakers are considering making an amendment to the proposed Digital Services Act (“DSA”) to include similar aspects of the Australian reforms. This could include requiring tech companies to inform publishers about changes to how they rank news stories on their sites, and the option of binding arbitration for licensing agreements.
Members of the EU parliament are divided over the potential amendment. Some, such as Alex Saliba, a Maltese MEP who led the parliament’s first report on the DSA, said the Australian approach had managed “the acute bargaining power imbalances” with publishers. Whereas others like Arba Kokalari, a Swedish centre-right MEP acting as a shadow rapporteur and thus responsible for steering the DSA through parliament, said it was “problematic” to consider new legislation “before even seeing how the new copyright directive will be implemented”.
It is certainly an interesting development as Member States implement article 15 (the new ancillary press publisher right) of the Copyright Directive into their own laws. The Directive does not set out mandatory payment requirements. Some politicians are seeking to use it in order to introduce one, however these developments suggest that is the wrong interpretation.
What is clear, is that such an amendment is likely to prove controversial, which would be troubling for the EU given their aim of pushing the DSA through the ordinary legislative procedure as quickly as possible. The Internal Market Committee is due to discuss the DSA and sister Digital Markets Act with Margrethe Vestager later this month on the 23rd February, so we might learn more then.
EU lawmakers overseeing new digital regulation in Europe want to force Big Tech companies to pay for news, echoing a similar move in Australia and strengthening the hand of publishers against Google and Facebook.