Sweden and Denmark are both eyeing copyright laws that may force digital platforms pay media sites for the ability to share news content.
The proposal, intended to grant publishers and media companies the right to demand compensation whenever their journalism is disseminated on digital platforms, has been welcomed by the Swedish Media Publishers' Association.
“We want newspapers to have the opportunity to spread their content online. But we also want the global tech giants to pay for the use of journalism and we want more fair and reasonable competition conditions,” the trade organisation's acting CEO Thomas Mattsson told national broadcaster SVT.
According to Mattson, the change in legislation will be promoted in accordance with a copyright directive adopted by the EU in April 2019.
Swedish Justice Ministry legal expert Patrik Sundsberg told SVT that the goal of the budding legislation is to regulate the relationship between media companies and IT companies and strengthen the position of online newspaper publishers by giving them exclusive rights to their publications.
Similar legislation is being prepared in neighbouring Denmark, whose Culture Minister Joy Mogensen questioned the “democratic mindset” of digital companies that block media that demand payment for sharing their content, like Facebook recently did in Australia.
“I don't know if it is because they don't understand it, or don't care about the importance of news media in a democratic society. They are the ones who bring journalistic based knowledge to the forefront,” Mogensen said, as quoted by the trade newspaper Journalisten.
The Danish culture minister is prepared to go as far as to give the media the opportunity to negotiate collectively.
“We have chosen to go further than the EU requires, by giving the Danish media companies the opportunity to negotiate collectively with tech giants. They mustn't stand one by one and fight against the very large and powerful companies that tech giants have become,” Mogensen said.
Earlier, Facebook's top manager in Scandinavia, Martin Ruby, called the proposal “unfair”, claiming that Facebook also creates value for the media. However, as of today, only 4 percent of Facebook content is news.
Mogensen countered that failure to comply and losing quality news content will result in Facebook “quickly becoming a place for tinfoil hats and conspiracy theorists” and “falling in value”.
The Swedish and Danish proposals both come in the wake of Facebook's feud with Australia. Last week, Facebook blocked all Australian news content and several state government and emergency department accounts after it failed to sway Canberra over the proposed media bargaining law, which would entitle the media companies to levy payment for sharing their content. Later, Facebook lifted its ban as Canberra agreed to make changes in its legislation.
However, other countries, including the UK and Canada, have voiced their readiness to obligate Big Tech to pay for journalism.