Canada Vows to Follow Australia’s Lead and Charge Facebook for News Content

Facebook logos are pictured on the screens of a smartphone (R), and a laptop computer, in central London on November 21, 2016. Facebook on Monday became the latest US tech giant to announce new investment in Britain with hundreds of extra jobs but hinted its success depended on skilled migration …

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said on Thursday that his country intends to make social media giant Facebook compensate Canadian news organizations for using their content, much as pending legislation in Australia would do.

Facebook responded to the Australian House of Representatives passing its legislation by blocking Australian users from sharing news content.

“Canada is at the forefront of this battle,” Guilbeault told reporters on Thursday. “We are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this.”

Guilbeault said Canada could model its legislation after Australia’s, or perhaps use the somewhat lighter approach adopted by France, which brokered a deal with Google to pay for French media content in late January. He said Canada is “working to see which model would be the most appropriate.”

Guilbeault was not unduly concerned about Facebook’s surprising retaliatory action against Australia, which has stirred up a backlash against the social media giant around the world. 

“I suspect that soon we will have five, ten, fifteen countries adopting similar rules,” he predicted. “Is Facebook going to cut ties with Germany, with France?”

As for Google, Guilbeault noted it has signed a billion dollars’ worth of deals to purchase content around the world and is already negotiating with Canadian providers, but it would still be subject to whatever law Canada passes.

“What’s to say that Google – tomorrow, six months, a year from now – doesn’t change its mind and says its doesn’t want to do that any more?” he said of Google’s existing deals and pending negotiations.

In a post on his Facebook page, Guilbeault called Facebook’s action against Australia “highly irresponsible” and said Canada would “move forward to put in place fair legislation between news media and web giants.”

“Last week, I met with my Australian, Finnish, German and French counterparts to work together on this issue. The more of us around the table adopting similar regulations, the harder it will be for Facebook to continue such actions. There is strength in numbers!” he said.


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