Denmark's Publishers Seek New Ways For Tech Giants To Pay For Content

  • by June 29, 2021
Publishers for years have fretted that tech giants Google and Facebook don’t fairly compensate them for their journalism. Their complaints have pushed lawmakers in several countries, including the United States to consider ways to regulate the business arrangements among content providers and online platforms. 

Denmark’s media industry this week will meet to develop a strategy to bargain with Google and Facebook, which are estimated to control about 53% of digital ad revenue worldwide. The first general assembly of almost 30 Danish media companies will comprise a collective bargaining organization that may serve as a model for other countries, the Financial Times reported.

The Danish plan is based on a controversial European Union copyright directive that lets news publishers claim revenues for online use of their material. The effort resembles a strategy adopted by the music industry to make online platforms responsible for unlicensed media usage. By banding together, the media companies will seek a business arrangement for tech platforms to pay for content. 
The Danish media companies participating in the plan include state broadcaster DR and private rival TV2, newspaper groups Berlingske and JP Politikens Hus, internet startup Zetland and smaller independent publishers. Magazine publisher Egmont is the only major Danish media group that isn’t in the group, the FT noted.  
The push by Danish media companies for collective bargaining with tech companies, based on the EU copyright directive, differs from the approach in other countries.



Australia this year passed a law requiring major online platforms to negotiate payments for news or face an intervention by a government mediator. Facebook and Google had threatened to leave Australia because of the law, but managed to reach agreements with media companies in the country to license their content. 

U.S. lawmakers are considering a variety of bills to help news publishers that have seen a dramatic decline in ad revenue in the past decade. The proposed Journalism Competition and Preservation Action of 2021 would exempt publishers from antitrust laws for a limited time, letting them engage in collective bargaining with tech platforms. The bill has faced mounting opposition amid concerns that it would help major media companies form a cartel, leaving independent publishers in a weakened position. 
The Danish plan also differs from France’s effort to apply the copyright directive, which led two groups of media companies to negotiate with Google over payment terms separately. As the FT reports, magazines have sought to bargain with Google and Facebook as their own collective. 
In Denmark, Google said it already offered to start discussions with publishers, while Facebook is working to limit its liability by reducing content that’s shown when people share hyperlinks in their posts. If Danish media companies are successful in their efforts, publishers in other EU countries may adopt a similar strategy to negotiate with tech companies on licensing agreements.
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