Apparently, the nations of Australia and Canada have taken the necessary steps to rein in the media giants Facebook and Google with tough laws to make them pay for the news content generated by regular professional news sources. Simply put, regular news agencies and hard copy newspapers pay reporters, editors and columnists for their stories, viewpoints, accounts and information gathering and then these media giants merely, now, free of charge, replicate the contents to their readers. In other words, they hijack the work of others. But after years of permitting this form of theft, led by the Aussies, even France, Germany and Finland are about to require these behemoths to shell out compensation for what they formerly just pick-pocketed from genuine sources. It’s about time!
Our Northern neighbor is getting in on the move to tighten the noose on these news thieves. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, said this past week that he would begin drafting legislation that could resemble Australia’s bid to make Facebook and other companies pay a licensing fee to feature domestically created content on their platforms. France has jumped into the fray requiring tech companies to enter into negotiations with publishers regarding financial compensation for their news material. The more, the merrier.
But Zuckerberg fought back…and lost. In response to Australia’s new laws, he had Facebook block all news content from its site. The residents of the island continent woke up last week to find they were unable to view or share news items on their FB feeds while the pages of local and international news organizations were blank. They also blocked, in an act of retaliation, the pages of many government entities and community organizations including key emergency services, the weather and charities. The company later apologized and said this was a mistake and restored these pages. But the moves only intensified the backlash of citizens and governmental authorities against them. They attempted to show their power. All bullies do that. And they are the bulliest of the bunch.
We credit other countries around the world, who although belatedly, have finally come around to corralling these giants in. The question is, “Why is our own government stalling to do the same? Are there payoffs to our legislators?” Good question. To be open and aboveboard, the Jewish Voice has been penalized and its ability to function on the FB platform has been reduced in half, evidently based on our open criticism of their practices. We wish this small squall over Facebook and other similar enterprises turns into a full “Category 5” hurricane. It’s about time.