France's Agence France-Presse and 20 other European news agencies are now jointly urging the European Parliament to pass copyright reforms that would diminish the 'threat' posed to consumers and democracy by companies like Google and Facebook. The organizations accuse the companies of "plundering" both content and advertising revenue from news media groups without fair compensation. That often includes videos and photos as well as news, the agencies argue, resulting in sizeable costs incurred by publishers and agencies in order to generate the content. Companies such as Facebook and Google typically earn approximately upwards of $10 billion in profit per year and are in a position to be able to easily pay for the content they're using. What's more, that could be done without charging users any more than they already pay, the agencies posit.
The reforms themselves are set to be debated and voted on as early as September 12 and include two parts. As they are currently written, Article 13 seeks to hold technology companies such as YouTube or Facebook legally responsible for copyrighted materials that appear on their sites without compensation. Article 11, meanwhile, would seek to ensure that news agencies and respective organizations receive payment whenever Google or other websites link to content published by those groups. A draft of the reforms was recently rejected in July during an initial vote and both articles have drawn stark criticism from both digital rights organizations and the companies the reformed law would affect.
Digital rights groups, in particular, have expressed concerns about whether it would have an overarching negative impact on users. Specifically, the concerns center around costs to end-users and over-regulation limiting free-speech. Some have claimed that providers of services would need to charge users or set prices higher in order to offset the expected costs. Opponents of the new regulations claim that those would force technology companies to censor users much more generally and widely to prevent legal ramifications for the content or media shared on their platforms. Moreover, it could be severely limiting to some platforms, such as YouTube, since it would have a measurable impact on the creativity that's central to the service's existence.