California Bill Would Force Tech Giants to Pay 'Journalism Usage Fee'

California legislators are mulling a bill that would require big-tech companies to pay publishers a “journalism usage fee” when they use local news content and sell advertising next to it. 

The California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), AB 886, introduced by State Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) would also require news publishers to invest 70% of the profits from these fees in journalism jobs. 

It’s not clear if the bill, authored by California News Publishers Association (CNPA) and the News/Media Alliance (NMA), has a chance of passage. 

As written, it provides “a lifeline for news outlets – large, small, and ethnic – by directing a portion of the ad dollars back to the print, digital, and broadcast media that bear the entire cost of gathering and reporting local news while Big Tech bears none,” Wicks states. 



Wicks adds that these “dominant digital ad companies are enriching their own platforms with local news content without adequately compensating the originators. It’s time they start paying market value for the journalism they are aggregating at no cost from local media.”

The groups want to see similar legislation at the federal level. 

“We hope Congress takes note and follows suit by reintroducing legislation at the federal level as well to give news publishers across the U.S. the same ability to be fairly compensated by the dominant tech platforms,” states Danielle Coffey, executive vice president and general counsel of the Alliance.

A federal bill (S. 673 and H.R. 1735), made it out the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2022. But Meta threatened to remove news from the U.S  platforms if it passed. The JCPA was dropped from the annual national defense spending bill

“If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions,” spokesperson Andy Stone said on Twitter last fall. 


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