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Monday, July 22, 2024

Changes in copyright law. “It's part of a larger conflict”

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Since there is no competition, Google dictates the terms of online advertising sales, Meta dictates the terms of social media advertising sales, and traditional media get the piece of the cake they have to agree to, because they have no one to really discuss it with – said Sylwia Czubkowska, Techstorie, Tok FM on TVN24, commenting on changes in copyright law.

Polish media appeal to politicians about changes in the content of the amendment to the Act on Copyright and Related Rights adopted by the Sejm. They demand a strengthening of the position of publishers in relations with technology giants such as Google, Microsoft or Meta, who earn money from journalistic content, although they do not create it themselves.

What is the media protest about?

– This is really more than a fight for our journalistic cause. This is not just a media issue, this is not just a journalists issue. At this point, the problem clearly concerns the media market, and clearly also journalists at the end, but it is an element of a larger conflict, a larger problem and a larger phenomenon. In this slogan that was published, there was an appeal to politicians and it looked as if it was again a jump of some power on media freedom – said Czubkowska.

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When asked about the parties in this dispute, the journalist replied: – Politicians are actually a bit of an executor here, not a party. On the one hand, the media are of course a party, and on the other hand, we have large technology corporations – big tech – mainly Google and Meta. It's about changing the rules that led to a major dysfunction in the advertising market, to the creation of an advertising duopoly, in which Google is a monopolist in the online advertising sales market, and Meta is a monopolist in the social media advertising sales market.

She added that “importantly, these advertisements are also sold thanks to journalistic content, on journalistic content, and what is more, their sale very often causes drops in traffic on the services themselves, portals, services belonging to newspapers, or which are part of television and radio concerns.”

According to Czubkowska, “we have allowed, because the media have allowed this over the last dozen or so years, for powerful giants in advertising sales to emerge, and they themselves are losing out on this.”

– There is an EU directive and it is not a new directive, because it was adopted in the European Union in 2019, i.e. five years ago. It should have been in force for three years. Unfortunately, our previous government appealed to the European Court of Justice. He believed that there was not much need to support the media here, but also artists, because it is a directive that also equalizes the chances of filmmakers or musicians. He believed that competition on the market is more important, i.e. de facto guaranteeing these technological giants free further development. However, they have already developed freely and a lot – emphasized the journalist.

She also used an analogy to trade and stated that one can “imagine a situation where we have only two largest discount stores and these two largest discount stores compete mainly with each other, but they do not necessarily compete because they have slightly different goods to sell.”

– But no one else is still on the sales market, so at some point there is no competition, we only get the products and only at the prices that these two networks can offer us, because there is no competition. And this is how the current situation on the advertising market looks like. Since there is no competition, Google dictates the terms of online advertising sales, Meta dictates the terms of advertising sales in social media, and traditional media get a piece of the pie that they really have to agree to, because they have no one to really discuss it with – Czubkowska explained.

Voting in the Senate

The amendment to the copyright law, adopted by the Sejm, implements the EU directive on remuneration for the use of works – including articles – by search engines, social media and streaming platforms.

The regulations introduce a new concept of exclusive right, which introduces the issue of remuneration from Google, Meta (Facebook) and Microsoft (e.g. the Bing search engine) for the use of content prepared by the media.

According to the wording of the regulations voted on by the MPs, the media, i.e. publishers, both small and large, are to establish the rules and the amount of remuneration with the technology giants themselves. Directly or through the intermediation of collective management organizations. Experience from other countries has shown that this is a long and difficult process, hence the amendment by the Left MP Daria Gosek-Popiołek, which assumes a certain facilitation. Namely, if an agreement is not reached within three months of submitting the application to start negotiations, the parties may apply to the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection to conduct mediation. If mediation does not bring results within three months, the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection could establish the terms of remuneration by his decision.

In addition, there was a proposal to precisely define when a publisher is entitled to remuneration and for large technology corporations to be obliged to provide publishers with data to determine its amount. The amendments proposed by Daria Gosek-Popiołek responded to an appeal by publishers addressed to MPs and senators.

However, the MPs of the Civic Coalition, Third Way and Confederation rejected the aforementioned amendments of the Left, which introduced the changes in the bill that the publishers had called for. Now they are to return to the Senate.

Main image source: Shutterstock



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