Saturday, May 18, 2024

Confronting the Prospect of Compensating for News content, Google Will Eliminate Links to California-based News Sites for Select Users | VIDEO

*Google initiated a trial on Friday by excluding certain California news websites from the search results of some users. This trial serves as a preemptive measure in response to potential legislation that would compel the tech giant to compensate media companies for linking to their content.

In a blog post on Friday, Google announced this trial, describing it as a “short-term test” affecting a small percentage of users. The purpose is to assess how the proposed legislation would impact the user experience. Additionally, Google stated it would halt new investments in the California news industry, including partnership initiatives with news organizations and product licensing programs.

Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s vice president for global news partnerships, emphasized in the blog post that facilitating access to news stories assists publishers in expanding their audiences without incurring costs. Zaidi argued that the proposed legislation would disrupt this model.

“By helping people find news stories, we help publishers of all sizes grow their audiences at no cost to them. (This bill) would up-end that model,” Zaidi wrote in the blog post.


The bill under consideration in the California Legislature aims to compel tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft to share a portion of their advertising revenue with media companies for linking to their content. The determination of the payment percentage would be entrusted to a panel of three judges through an arbitration process. Advocates of the bill assert that it seeks to address the decline in journalism jobs, particularly as traditional media companies struggle to adapt to the digital landscape. They cite statistics indicating a significant number of newspaper closures in the U.S. and California over the past decade.

Democratic Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, the bill’s author, frames it as a matter of fairness, intending to ensure that platforms compensate for the content they utilize. Wicks expresses a commitment to ongoing negotiations with Google and other stakeholders to support California journalists and preserve democratic discourse.

Despite bipartisan support in the state Assembly, the bill faces opposition from major tech companies. Critics, including Google, characterize it as a “link tax” that would primarily benefit out-of-state entities while further harming local news organizations. Google’s vice president of news, Richard Gingras, highlights the company’s existing support for local journalism through financial grants and training programs.

Google’s decision to temporarily exclude links to news websites echoes similar actions by tech giants confronting unwanted legislation elsewhere. The maneuver underscores the complex interplay between technology companies and regulatory efforts to address concerns about market dominance and journalistic sustainability.

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