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The US Congress has proposed a law that would give publishers in the US the power to negotiate with companies such as Facebook and Google for a possible payment for showing parts of news items.

The law is called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act and is supported by members of both parties in the House and Senate, writes The Register. However, it is not yet certain that it will actually be passed.

Compensation for article snippets

With such a law, publishers, such as news websites, can demand a fee from tech companies like Google and Facebook when those websites show snippets of their articles in search results. This could include titles and pieces of text from the article.

The current legislation does not provide room for publishers to cooperate for bargaining power. Congress does want to give publishers that leeway. As far as Congress is concerned, it is up to the publishers to decide what kind of agreements they will eventually conclude with the tech giants.

This is not the first time the US has tried to pass legislation. The law was proposed in both 2018 and 2019, but both times it did not gather enough support. It is possible that this time will be different, now that Australia and Europe are also openly playing with similar ideas.

Similar movements in Australia and EU

In Australia, a similar law had already been introduced, which led to Google promptly removing all Australian media from its search results. Facebook also did not allow the sharing of messages from Australian media on its platform. Naturally, this resulted in a huge drop in visitor numbers for the affected media. After negotiations between the media and the tech giants, the Australian media are once again being shown in search results. Details of the agreement reached are not publicly known.

Last month, the European Publishers Council announced that it would also be working towards similar legislation in the EU. This coalition of European media parties directly referred to the Australian approach in their appeal to the EU. Remarkably enough, Microsoft also supports the initiative. The company claims to support journalism but possibly sees an opportunity to gain some market share with its Bing search engine, as well.