News media publishers would like to see the European Union copy parts of Australian legislation that forces big tech companies like Facebook and Google to pay for taking over news items. In the meantime, a lobby has been set up.

According to publishers, binding arbitration should also exist in the European Union if publishers and tech companies fail to reach agreement on payments when posting content on tech platforms. They want a special clause to be included in the legislation proposed in December to restrict the large tech companies, the so-called Digital Markets Act.

The industry sees its chance to push the issue now after Facebook stopped sharing news in that country in response to a similar Australian measure. Publishers have lost a lot of ad revenue in recent years due to the emergence of digital platforms that have been losing out on advertising budgets.

According to the European Publishers Council, it is clear that without the Australian approach, tech companies are in danger of running away from negotiations, possibly withdrawing entirely from markets. The EU has already agreed on a separate copyright law to help publishers seek compensation from the platforms, after years of negotiations between industry and policy makers.

For some publishers, the rules do not go far enough. France is so far one of the few countries to apply the copyright law, but the French Competition Authority had to intervene last year to force Google, which is part of Alphabet, to pay for displaying news. When France passed the law, Google stripped its search results for news. At the beginning of this year it was agreed that individual licensing agreements will be negotiated.

“The tech giants are still finding ways to evade their obligations to publishers, even with EU copyright rules in place, said Wout van Wijk, executive director of News Media Europe, an umbrella organisation representing national publishers’ associations. “We would welcome a clause that makes binding arbitration mandatory.”

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