AG Submits Comments on Press Publisher Protections

From The Authors Guild:

The Authors Guild submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office recommending changes to copyright law and policy to stop internet platforms like Facebook and Google from monetizing news content freely, and to give newspaper and magazine publishers more power to negotiate with platforms that aggregate news content. The comments come in response to the Copyright Office’s “Publisher Protection Study,” which seeks to understand the effects of “news aggregators” like Google and Facebook on newspapers and magazines with the goal of issuing policy guidelines to protect the industry.

The Guild’s comments emphasized that the Facebook and Google “duopoly” over the digital advertising market has siphoned revenues out of the press publishing ecosystem, leading to mass closure or consolidation in the industry. According to the Pew Center, 2,100—or about one in five—newspapers or magazines have shuttered or merged into larger entities since 2008, with advertising revenues sinking from $55 billion per year in 2005 to just $8.8 billion in 2010. The comments also underscored the impact on writers and journalists, pointing out that full-time journalism jobs had dwindled by 26% since 2008 and per-word and piece-based freelance rates were vastly lower than they were 15 years ago.

. . . .

Apart from the clear economic harm to journalists, freelance writers, and press publishers, control of the news space by internet platforms have also dealt serious blows to democratic culture. As the last four years show, when the public relies on misinformation and fake news instead of real journalism—which, unlike clickbait, takes hard work, time, and resources to produce—the cost to society are immense. 

Link to the rest at The Authors Guild

4 thoughts on “AG Submits Comments on Press Publisher Protections”

  1. This may be a naive question, but can someone please explain to me what this “news aggregation” that Google is accused of amounts to?

    I just type a query into the search bar and Google serves up a bunch of links, none of which actually give me any “news” as such, just a hint that the site may have the information I’m interested in. If there is news that interests me I have to visit the news site where they can, courtesy of Google sending me there, do their best to extract money from me while serving up their story.

    For its part in this Google may or may not get some advertising revenue – though the fact that I run an adblocker on most devices and almost never click on advertiser’s links, unless they are for a product I’m searching for (or a title on Bookbub), means that the advertisers would be foolish to pay. I accept that a lot of advertising money has moved from newspapers to organisations like Google – with undesirable results for the viability of the news services – but this is just a natural result of technological change. The great majority of adverts never had any connection with the periodical in which they appeared, it was just a marriage of convenience based on the papers’ need for money and their ability to serve adverts to a mass audience, so once the advertisers found another way to make this connection the newspapers had to face up to their audience’s unwillingness to pay the cost of what is on offer.

    Mind you, I suspect that the huge majority of advertising spend is simply money down the drain and if the firms paying for it ever notice this then the Internet as we know it may never recover

    • They’re comingling two separate things, the search browser and Google news, which offers up news links without submitting a query. Just go to the website to see how it works:

      news.google.com

      It isn’t a terribly good site and at number 4 in English news site popularity it gets half the traffic Microsoft’s MSN News gets (and MS pays the linked sources). Year to year it has dropped 25% while MS is second only to tbe BBC and has grown 16%. BBC has also lost 16% and CNN has lost 36%.

      https://pressgazette.co.uk/most-popular-websites-news-world-monthly/

      Mainstream news sites are not terribly popular these days.

  2. Well that kind of explains it. When I click on the Apps icon in an open tab in chrome – which is not something I normally do – I get presented with a few apps, some of which I even use, but news is not one of them. However, for the first time I just clicked on the apps icon on a new tab and was presented with 35 Google apps, the great majority of which I’ve never used (some I’d never heard of). Low and behold, “news.google.com” was amongst them, so now I’ve actually opened it.

    I’ve not delved very deeply into this – just clicked on a few tabs like World, Technology, Sport – but everything I looked at just gave me headlines and to get the actual story I had to go the the news provider’s website (sometimes going via a “Full Coverage” page which still only gave me snippets + links). So at the end of the day it just looks like an aggregation of normal search results with snippets giving just enough information to advertise what I might hope to find at the end of the link.

    Maybe there is more there than I’ve found but, on this cursory examination there is nothing that I see justifies a payment by Google, just free advertising flyers for organisations’ websites.

    I also find the comparison to sites like the BBC a little odd. They appear to be a news provider of the kind that Google links too rather than an aggregator like Google (with the additional problem that they don’t actually have any advertising income to lose to Google, though maybe this means it isn’t a problem?).

    • I knew about google news but I don’t bother with it. As you point out, its added value is nonexistent.
      Instead, I go to a handful of news sites direct and MSN news.

      Microsoft gives you snippets that take you to a MSN page with the fully attributed article and links to other articles from the same source so they actually add value; they don’t serve articles by click popularity but rather by content. Machine curated but they offer up multiple takes on tbe same subject, controversial or not.
      They’re pretty much the only place to offer up the same subject covered by Fox,MSNBC, AP, Reuters, CBS, ABC, NBC, Al Jazeera, NYT, WP, etc. Even the BBC on occassion. They even tried sourcing chinese outlets…for two days… They quickly discovered it was all distorted propaganda.
      They also give you a choice of subjects to focus on so you don’t have to go subject by subject like Google.
      YahooNews is fairly good.
      But MS is near the top for a reason.
      If nothing else, they haven’t been caught skewing news, they leave that to the sources. 😉

Comments are closed.