Italy approves measures for big techs to remunerate journalistic vehicles for the use of publications

Italy approves measures for big techs to remunerate journalistic vehicles for the use of publications

The agency that regulates the communications sector in Italy approved a series of criteria that give the green light for journalistic vehicles to seek to close agreements with platforms such as Google and Meta (Facebook) to receive part of the advertising revenue obtained by them from the distribution of content .

The regulation on the definition of a “fair remuneration for the online use of journalistic publications”, as it has been called, was released on the last 19th, after a year in preparation at AgCom, the body that regulates the area in the country.

The set of criteria represents the last step in Italy for negotiations between publishers and big techs to move forward, as it completes the 2019 European Union directive on copyright and Italian legislation on the subject, in force since December from 2021.

According to the text, companies producing journalistic content may receive, after an agreement with big techs, a share of up to 70% of the platform’s advertising revenue “due to the online use of publications of a journalistic nature by the vehicle”, in net amounts of that that the company receives from the redirection traffic generated by the platforms. In addition to texts, the measure applies to multimedia formats, such as videos, photo galleries and podcasts.

The adoption of the 70% ceiling is intended, according to the agency, to make negotiations on remuneration flexible, given the different needs and characteristics of vehicles and platforms. “The main objective of the regulation is to encourage agreements inspired by commercial practices and business models adopted in the market”, said AgCom in a note.

Among the criteria that must be taken into account when determining compensation are: online audience numbers for the material broadcast; relevance of the vehicle in the market (audience and years of activity); number of journalists employed; values ​​proven by the vehicle in technological investments in the online environment; values ​​proven by the platform in technological investments dedicated to the reproduction and transmission of online journalistic publications.

In addition, it is on the list the requirement that both vehicles and platforms commit to comply with “international standards of information quality and fact-checking”, as a way of recognizing companies that fight fake news.

“The criteria for assessing the solidity of an editorial group are multiple and complex. As the negotiation involves economic issues, the main ones are quantitative, such as audience numbers and advertising that is distributed. But qualitative elements must also weigh, such as the number of journalists hired and the efforts that the vehicles make to guarantee quality information”, said the president of AgCom, Giacomo Lasorella, in an interview with the newspaper La Repubblica.

According to the agency, the regulation seeks to balance the interests at stake, not only those of companies, but also those of a public nature, by protecting values ​​such as freedom of expression and pluralism of information.

AgCom will have power of arbitration in the negotiations. If after 30 days of the start of conversations between a vehicle and a platform there is no agreement, the agency may be called upon by one of the parties. The body then has up to 60 days to indicate which proposal best meets the criteria of the new regulation or directly indicate the amount of “fair remuneration”. If, even so, a contract is not signed, the case can be taken by the parties to court.

The approval of the regulation was celebrated by the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers (Fieg). “It is an important and long-awaited result. It is hoped that a phase of constructive dialogue between the parties will now open, in the sharing of a necessary reform to rebalance the entire digital system”, said the entity.

In response to the approval of the regulation, Google said, according to La Repubblica, that it has been collaborating with governments and journalistic vehicles throughout the European Union, as countries implement the bloc’s directive within their national legislation. “Since 2021, we have already signed licensing agreements with more than 1,000 vehicles in 11 countries, including Germany, France and Spain.” Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said the Italian regulation would be reviewed but that the company confirmed its support for the aims of the European copyright directive.

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