New IT law may force internet companies to pay media firms for content

Google, Facebook

New Delhi: India would soon introduce legislation to make Internet firms pay fees to media organisations from which they source news content. A similar law enacted by the Australian Parliament early in 2021 had attracted global attention.

“The Government of India will announce a new law to replace the Information Technology Act, 2000, which would include provisions to compel Internet companies to make payments to media firms for using their content,” Union Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar told Manorama.

“Global tech firms earn huge amounts from digital advertisements and dominate the sector. This causes big losses to media organisations. We are seriously taking up the matter while preparing the new IT law,” the minister added.

After Australia brought in the landmark legislation intended to rein in global IT giants such as Google and Meta Platforms, which owns the popular online social media and social networking service Facebook, countries such as France, Germany and Spain also initiated measures to introduce a similar law.

It is pointed out that Google and Facebook earn billions of dollars through news content. However, the media organisations which generate news do not have any monetary benefits. Incidentally, various media bodies, including Indian Newspaper Society (INS), have been highlighting the issue for some time.

What the Australian law states

The law implemented in Australia says Internet firms providing links or gist of news and other content from various media organisations should pay an amount to the parent source. According to the law, Google and Facebook earn big amounts of money by inserting advertisements in the news content after providing links in search results and news feeds.

As a result, media organisations preparing the content are eligible to receive fees from Google and Facebook. Subsequently, in one year after enacting the law, various media outlets in Australia received an amount of 200 million US dollars (around Rs 1,594 crore) as payment for using their content.

How Google, Facebook reacted

Initially, Google and Facebook vehemently opposed the new law in Australia, with Google even threatening to cease all its services in the country. However, Google soon yielded after learning that Australia was considering alternatives to Google.

Meanwhile, Facebook adopted a tougher stand and stopped providing news links altogether in Australia. Facebook also ceased providing news originating in Australia, including government announcements, in other countries.

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