Publishers have relied on referral traffic to gain readership for years. Now nine European press agencies such as Agence France-Presse (AFP), Germany’s Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), and Britain’s Press Association are calling on Google, Facebook and others to pay copyright fees for using their content, which these Internet giants make a profit on.
Free is a myth, and informing the public costs a lot of money, according to one report.
The push comes as the European Union debates a directive to require that Facebook, Google, and others pau for the news articles they aggregate and serve up in search engine queries or social feeds.
"The draft directive would require the major players of the Internet to pay a fee to the media for the millions of content accessed on their platforms by Internet users in search of information," reports one publication.
The consortium argues that Google and Facebook generate profits from the content and pay little or nothing for it. Search engines and social media sites argue that they drive readership to publisher sites, benefiting from the increased online traffic.
Basically, news agencies and publishers are tired of giving search engines, social sites, and readers access to the content for free.
In June 2017, when The Wall Street Journalreported that the media site stopped participating in a program called "First Click Free" that allowed site visitors from the Google search engine to bypass its paywall, the publication saw a 44% decline in traffic.
While traffic via the Google search engine fell, subscriptions rose. The WSJ's digital subscriber base grew about 30% compared with the prior year a decline partly attributable to barring Google users from reading for free.
The consortium includes press agencies reporting on the news from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K.