Canada vows to be the next country to go after Facebook to pay for the news By Reuters


2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Canadian Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault attends a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa 2/2

By David Ljunggren OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada pledged on Thursday to make Facebook Inc (NASDAQ 🙂 pay for news content, seeking allies in the media battle with tech giants and vowing not to back down if the social media platform shuts down. the country’s news. as it did in Australia. Facebook blocked all Australian news content on its service on proposed legislation that requires it and Alphabet’s Google (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc to pay fees to Australian publishers for news links. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, in charge of crafting similar legislation to be released in the coming months, condemned Facebook’s action and said it would not deter Ottawa. “Canada is at the forefront of this battle … we really are among the first group of countries in the world to do this,” he told reporters. Last year, Canadian media organizations warned of a possible market failure without government action. They said the Australian approach would allow publishers to recoup C $ 620 million a year. Without action, they warned, Canada would lose 700 print journalism jobs out of a total of 3,100. Guilbeault said Canada could adopt the Australian model, which requires Facebook and Google to enter into agreements to pay media outlets whose links drive activity on their services, or agree on a price through binding arbitration. Another option is to follow the example of France, which requires large technology platforms to initiate conversations with publishers seeking remuneration for the use of news content. “We are working to see which model would be the most appropriate,” he said, adding that last week he spoke with his French, Australian, German and Finnish counterparts about working together to ensure fair compensation for web content. “I suspect that soon we will have five, 10, 15 countries adopting similar rules … Is Facebook going to cut ties with Germany, with France?” he asked, saying that at some point Facebook’s approach would become “totally unsustainable.” University of Toronto professor Megan Boler, who specializes in social media, said Facebook’s action marked a turning point that would require a common international approach. “In fact, we could see a coalition, a united front against this monopoly, which could be very powerful,” he said in a telephone interview. This week Facebook said that news accounts for less than 4% of the content people see on the platform, but maintained that it helped Australian publishers generate around AU $ 407 million last year. Google has signed 500 deals worth around $ 1 billion over three years with publishers around the world for its new News Showcase service and is in talks with Canadian companies. Guilbeault said that Google would still be subject to the new Canadian law, as Ottawa wanted an approach that was fair, transparent and predictable. “What does it mean that Google, tomorrow, in six months, in a year, does not change its mind and says that it no longer wants to do that?” he said. Lauren Skelly, a spokeswoman for Google in Canada, declined to comment on Guilbeault’s comments, saying the company did not know the details of the legislation. Michael Geist, President of Canada Research in Internet Law and E-Commerce at the University of Ottawa, said Canada should aspire to Google’s approach, in which companies invest money in content that provides added value. “If we follow the Australian model … we will find ourselves practically in the same place,” he said by phone. “Everybody loses. Media organizations lose … Facebook loses.” Kevin Chan, Facebook’s head of public policy in Canada, said there were “other options for supporting news in Canada that will more fairly benefit publishers of all sizes.”