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  1. Microsoft throws Google under the bus in European news fight Google has blasted "link tax" proposals as antithetical to the open Web. Robert Scoble / Flickr Microsoft is throwing its weight behind a European effort to force Big Tech companies to pay for the right to link to news articles. Google and Facebook have strongly opposed such proposals in both Europe and Australia, describing them as an attack on the open Web. Microsoft disagrees. "Access to fresh, broad, and deep press coverage is critical to the success of our democracies," said Microsoft Vice President Casper Klynge in a press statement. Specifically, Microsoft is supporting calls for Europe to adopt a mandatory arbitration rule like the one now under consideration in Australia. Such a rule would increase the leverage of news publishers by giving them a way to force technology giants to the bargaining table. Klynge touted Microsoft's past financial support for journalism and described an Australia-style arbitration mechanism as "a logical next step." An offer Google literally can’t refuse Pressure on Google to pay for news articles intensified in 2019 when the EU parliament passed copyright legislation giving news organizations a "neighboring right" over the use of snippets from their articles. EU-wide laws like this must be translated into the local law of each EU nation. France was one of the first countries to do this. In the past, Google has responded to laws like this by simply delisting a country's news articles from its search results. But this time, French competition authorities warned Google that would be considered unfair discrimination and hence a violation of competition laws. As a result, Google had little choice but to pay some licensing fees to news organizations. In Google's first deal under the new framework, the search giant committed to pay $76 million over three years to 121 different news organizations. Still, some French news organizations blasted that deal as letting Google off the hook too easily. And now, some are calling for an even stronger legal mechanism to force Google—and possibly other tech giants—to the table. In Australia, officials are considering establishing a baseball-style arbitration process where each party puts forward an offer and then a neutral arbiter decides which offer is more reasonable. This arrangement is widely viewed as more favorable to news organizations, since it gives technology giants an incentive not to drag out negotiations or insist on low licensing rates. “Fair and balanced agreements” In their new blog post, Microsoft and several European news groups call on European policymakers to "take inspiration from the new Australian legislation that requires the tech gatekeepers covered by that law to share revenue with news organizations." They say that the law "should mandate payments for the use of press publishers' content by these gatekeepers and should include arbitration provisions, to ensure that fair agreements are negotiated." "Even though press publishers have a neighboring right, they might not have the economic strength to negotiate fair and balanced agreements with these gatekeeper tech companies," Microsoft and the publishers say. Without protections, tech gatekeepers "might otherwise threaten to walk away from negotiations or exit markets entirely." You might expect Microsoft to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Google in a fight that pits American tech giants against European politicians and publishers. But Google and Microsoft are in very different positions in the search market. Google has upward of 90 percent search market share in Australia and a number of European countries, while Microsoft's Bing is mired in the single digits. So "link tax" proposals are going to cost Google far more than Microsoft. Siding with European policymakers could help Microsoft build goodwill there. Meanwhile, if Google were to actually invoke the nuclear option and shut down its search engine in Australia or elsewhere, it could mean big market share gains for Bing. So stoking conflict between its biggest search rival and foreign governments may have a lot more upside than downside for Microsoft. Microsoft throws Google under the bus in European news fight
  2. This must be done by all hospitals. http://www.unknowncountry.com/news/let-food-thy-medicine-hospital-opens-organic-garden
  3. AOL has signed a video distribution deal with Microsoft meaning that its video content will be available on Microsoft video platforms. Videos from AOL’s library of nearly 900,000 will be distributed on Microsoft video platforms including MSN and Bing apps for Windows and Windows Phone. This includes AOL brands such as HuffPost Live, TechCrunch and Moviefone as well as partner sites including ESPN, TMZ, Rachel Ray and Martha Stewart. MSN alone has nearly 450 million unique visitors worldwide every month so the partnership will undoubtedly help AOL reach a new customer base. "Microsoft's suite of devices and services is unmatched, and its loyal audiences are constantly seeking new and refreshed offerings on their platforms. We have an open strategy for distributing our premium content, and we're proud to partner with Microsoft to enhance their video experience," said Ran Harnevo, President of AOL Video. The AOL video library will also include its 2014 slate of original series that will be unveiled at the Digital Content NewFronts next week in New York. Microsoft will also be at the event to show off its soccer reality show called “Every Street United” hoping to attract the attention of advertisers. Source:http://www.t3.com/news/aol-and-microsoft-join-forces-to-offer-premium-video-content
  4. Facebook may block news from being shared on its platforms in Australia Proposed rules to force tech platforms to share ad revenues with news publishers are not workable, the company says Illustration by James Bareham / The Verge Facebook plans to block the sharing of local and international news stories on its platforms if legislation requiring tech platforms to pay publishers for content becomes law, the company said in a blog post Monday. “Australia is drafting a new regulation that misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect,” Will Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand wrote in the blog post, arguing that the commission overseeing the process “ignored important facts,” including the relationship between social media and news media. “Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram.” Easton continued. “This is not our first choice — it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector.” The country’s proposed News Media Bargaining Code law, which is in draft form at present, stemmed from a 2019 inquiry that found tech giants like Facebook and Google take too large a share of online advertising revenue from media organizations in Australia. The Treasurer of Australia ordered the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to develop a voluntary code of conduct which would force the platforms to pay media companies. The ACCC told the government it seemed “unlikely” that a voluntary agreement could be reached, however. Under the proposed legislation, Google and Facebook would have to provide publishers with advance notice of changes to their algorithms, with penalties for failing to comply. Both companies have pushed back strongly against this provision. with Facebook saying it would give news organizations in Australia an unfair competitive advantage. Easton wrote in his post that news represents a fraction of what Facebook users see in their news feeds, and is “not a significant source of revenue” for the company. In addition to investing “millions of dollars” in Australian news businesses, he added, “over the first five months of 2020 we sent 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook’s News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge — additional traffic worth an estimated $200 million AUD to Australian publishers.” Earlier this month, Google published an open letter about the proposed law, and added a pop-up to its homepage in Australia warning “the way Aussies use Google is at risk” and that the regulation could hurt their search experience. The law, Google argued, “is set up to give big media companies special treatment and to encourage them to make enormous and unreasonable demands that would put our free services at risk.” The ACCC pushed back, saying Google’s letter contains “misinformation,” and added that “a healthy news media sector is essential to a well-functioning democracy.” Media companies in Australia have largely supported the proposed changes. Australia’s newspapers and media outlets, like their counterparts in other countries, have been hard-hit by the economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Guardian has reported. Large Australian media companies have asked staff to take pay cuts in recent months, and several newspapers were forced to halt production because of a sharp decline in advertising revenue. Facebook may block news from being shared on its platforms in Australia
  5. Can Australia Force Google and Facebook to Pay for News? A proposed law would require the tech giants to negotiate with publishers. Similar attempts in Europe have largely failed. Illustration: Sam Whitney Australians visiting Google.com last week found, hovering below the search bar, an exclamation point encased in a yellow triangle. A warning: “The way Aussies search every day on Google is at risk from new government regulation.” The warning links to an open letter from Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Mel Silva. Google’s and YouTube’s offering in Australia could become “dramatically worse,” she warns. The services themselves are “at risk.” All Australians users could be affected. Silva’s warning stems from a proposed law that would require Google and Facebook to negotiate with news outlets and pay for news content featured on their platforms. Australian regulators say the tech giants benefit from publishing news generated by others, but Google and Facebook are so dominant in search and social, respectively, that publishers can’t make them pay for it. It’s not the first time a country has tried to force Google and Facebook to pay media companies for republishing their news. A 2014 Spanish law required publishers to charge Google for the headlines and snippets of their stories that appeared on Google News. In response, the company removed the Google News service from Spain and took Spanish publishers off its news service globally. Readership of news stories dropped, particularly at smaller, less-well-known outlets, according to one study. Last year, France wrote into law an EU copyright directive that demands Google pay for the news content that appears on its sites. Google was ordered back to the bargaining table this year after it removed French publishers’ snippets from its search results and did not pay for links. In 2014, Germany’s biggest publishing house briefly barred Google from featuring snippets of its articles in a bid to make the search giant pay licensing fees but backed out after traffic plunged. Australian officials studied those efforts and took a different approach. They are not relying on copyright law, and they included measures designed to prevent Google or Facebook from dropping or down-ranking Australian news based on whether outlets try to negotiate a price, as happened in Europe. In response, Google is pitting itself against “big media companies” and appealing to the Australian public to oppose the proposal. Regulators and media executives around the world are watching to see if Australia can succeed where others have stumbled. The Australian approach could set a global precedent, says Belinda Barnet, a senior lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology. “If every country in the world starts demanding the same, then it will have an impact on [Google and Facebook’s] financial model.” The proposed Australian law emerged from an 18-month inquiry into the power of digital platforms by the country’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The commission concluded that many news businesses are reliant on—and benefit from—Google and Facebook for traffic but have little bargaining power with the tech giants. It also found that while Google and Facebook derived little advertising revenue from featuring news headlines and snippets on their sites, original news content benefited both platforms. More than one-third of Facebook users reported using the social media site to access news, according to the ACCC. Google placed a Top Stories carousel of headlines and snippets in response to 8 to 14 percent of queries, which the commission said indicated that Google values surfacing news content. Google’s ability to provide high-quality and reliable search, and Facebook’s ability to attract and retain eyeballs on its feed, the ACCC argued, relied to some degree on their ability to showcase independent, accurate news content. The dispute is “about the extent to which [news publishers’] content drives traffic, and they don’t receive returns from that,” says Terry Flew, a professor at the Queensland University of Technology. He says the proposed law recognizes “that each party derives benefit from the other. In the case of the platforms, it’s the content; in the case of the publishers, it’s the distribution channels.” Australia, Flew says, has “proposed that there must be a just price, if you like, for the financial benefit gained by the platforms.” That just price is intended to result from negotiations between the online platforms and media companies. Should they fail to agree, the parties will submit “final offers” to a panel of arbitrators, who must choose one or the other. The proposed law also would require that Google and Facebook give news outlets 28 days notice of changes to their algorithms that would harm news businesses, such as removing snippets, down-ranking publishers, or closing Google News in the country. Violations, including of the nondiscrimination requirement, could result in fines of up to 10 percent of the platform’s annual revenue in Australia—for each offense. Silva, the Google executive, says the company pays some publishers for their content, through a licensing agreement announced in June with several Australian, Brazilian, and German publishers, and is looking to do more so, but that the draft code is “unworkable.” Google says the continual changes to its algorithm make it impractical to identify changes that might affect news businesses. The proposal, Silva said in a statement, “ignores the significant value Google provides to news publishers.” Sharing details about the algorithm “would provide an unfair advantage to news businesses and help them feature more prominently in organic search results at the expense of other businesses, creators, and website owners,” she said, adding that the proposal also doesn’t include safeguards for data shared with news businesses. Together, Google argues, these conditions put its services in Australia at risk. “We’re going to do everything we possibly can to get this proposal changed,” Silva wrote in the open letter to Australians. Asked in July whether this could mean removing Australian news from its services, Silva replied: “All options are on the table.” Facebook hasn’t directly appealed to users to oppose the proposed law. Will Easton, the company’s managing director in Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement when the proposal was released in July, “We are reviewing the government's proposal to understand the impact it will have on the industry, our services, and our investment in the news ecosystem in Australia.” Fires, a Pandemic, and 8 Reporters Australia’s news media industry has been contracting, with title closures and journalist job losses across the country. Media companies are in a bind, Flew says. They can’t afford not to be on Facebook and Google, but the distribution of news on the platforms undermines news media companies’ ability to monetize their content and build brands. In its inquiry, the competition commission found that after viewing news snippets, some consumers won’t click through to a news site where the publisher can generate advertising revenue. Google and Facebook account for 71 percent of the $6.5 billion (US) spent annually in Australia. But the commission did not base its proposal on lost advertising revenue. Rather, it argues that the content itself is of intrinsic value to platforms and therefore they should pay for it. One of the country’s largest media companies, Nine, headed by a former federal treasurer, has suggested the two companies compensate media companies up to $432 million (US) for use of their content. Belinda Barnet, senior lecturer, Swinburne University of Technology For smaller outlets, any compensation at all would be welcome. Bruce Ellen’s team of eight journalists at the Latrobe Valley Express newspaper, covering an area east of Melbourne, has had a busy year. Summer bushfires singed the edges of their readership’s region. Then, as Covid-19 hit in the autumn and returned for a second, more deadly wave in the winter, the newspaper published breaking and exclusive stories about test shortages and the outbreak of clusters in the area. This kind of reporting could not be found anywhere else. But it appears via a Google search and is posted on Facebook, including by the paper itself. “We get no recompense from Google at all,” says Ellen, general manager of the paper. “Not one cent. My P&L shows nothing at all.” News is valued by users of Facebook and Google and can attract and keep users on the platforms. It costs his business to produce this content, but so far it has cost Facebook and Google nothing to feature it in headline or snippet form. “They’re leveraging our content to drive traffic,” says Ellen. The proposed law is not a panacea for the problems facing news media, he says.“We have to row our own boat.” But it could help stop the hemorrhaging of journalists and publications. For his paper, believed to be the last regional newspaper in Australia to print two editions a week, it might just mean survival. “In reality it means we can continue to employ the same number of journalists,” he says. A Battle for Public Opinion The code has received a generally warm reception from Australian news businesses. News Corporation Australasia executive chair Michael Miller called it a “watershed moment.” In a statement, he said that the law would mean that the platforms, which derive “immense benefit” from news content “will no longer be able to use their power to walk away from negotiations with news creators … The tech platforms' days of free-riding on other people's content are ending.” A consultation period over the proposed law ended Friday. The ACCC will consider revisions before putting the proposal before Parliament. With general support from both the governing conservative coalition and the Labor opposition, the legislation is expected to pass. “Then we get into the realm of public opinion and pressure,” says Flew, the Queensland professor. “The strongest card that Google and Facebook have is a strong dislike of News Corporation and mainstream media in general in Australia, in particular among young people.” Google “could potentially rally the troops in a way that no other company could,” says Barnet. “It’s their only option. But it’s huge.” Shortly after Google released its open letter, the ACCC responded, accusing Google of spreading “misinformation” by suggesting it might have to charge for its services or share additional user data. Google disputes that its letter included misinformation. “Our little ACCC has got the chutzpah,” says Barnet. Back in the Latrobe Valley, Ellen harbors a cautious optimism. “But the fight has only just begun,” says the newspaper manager. “I assure you.” Can Australia Force Google and Facebook to Pay for News?
  6. BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Alphabet’s Google plans to pay $1 billion to publishers globally for their news over the next three years, its CEO said on Thursday, a step that could help it win over a powerful group amid heightened regulatory scrutiny worldwide. News publishers have long fought the world’s most popular internet search engine for compensation for using their content, with European media groups leading the charge. CEO Sundar Pichai said the new product called Google News Showcase will launch first in Germany, where it has signed up German newspapers including Der Spiegel, Stern, Die Zeit, and in Brazil with Folha de S.Paulo, Band and Infobae. It will be rolled out in Belgium, India, the Netherlands and other countries. About 200 publishers in Argentina, Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada and Germany have signed up to the product. “This financial commitment - our biggest to date - will pay publishers to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience,” Pichai said in a blog post. Google parent Alphabet reported a net profit of $34.3 billion on revenue of almost $162 billion last year. The product, which allows publishers to pick and present their stories, will launch on Google News on Android devices and eventually on Apple devices. “This approach is distinct from our other news products because it leans on the editorial choices individual publishers make about which stories to show readers and how to present them,” Pichai said. German publisher the Spiegel Group welcomed the project. “With News Showcase and the new integration of editorial content like from Spiegel, Google shows that they are serious about supporting quality journalism in Germany. We are happy to be part of it from the start,” said Stefan Ottlitz, managing director of the Spiegel Group. The European Publishers Council (EPC), whose members include News UK, the Guardian, Pearson, the New York Times and Schibsted, however, was not enthusiastic. “By launching a product, they (Google) can dictate terms and conditions, undermine legislation designed to create conditions for a fair negotiation, while claiming they are helping to fund news production,” said EPC Executive Director Angela Mills Wade. The product builds on a licensing deal with media groups in Australia, Brazil and Germany in June, which also drew a lukewarm response from the EPC. Google is negotiating with French publishers, among its most vocal critics, while Australia wants to force it and Facebook to share advertising revenue with local media groups. Google’s funding for news organisations has frustrated other internet publishers, such as weather websites and recipe tools, which say Google has hurt their revenue. Source
  7. Censorship of news on the internet by the government has long been a point of controversy. Indeed, we have had points in the past where the BBC's Vietnamese website got blocked. On other occasions, China has previously blocked BBC's services in the country, and Iran has dabbled in the same as well. In a bid to fight against censorship and restricted access, BBC announced today that it's launching a mirror of its international news website on the dark web. In a statement, the news site said: To access the website, you will need Tor, which is a web browser that allows you to access content on the dark web securely. The web address for the alternate website to the regular BBC News is bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion. Unsurprisingly, the link cannot be opened in regular browsers because of the 'onion' suffix. The 'dark' version of BBC will have foreign language services like BBC Persian, BBC Russian, and BBC Arabic. UK-only content and services including BBC iPlayer will be unavailable due to broadcasting rights. As stated before, the dark web version will be the international variant of BBC, not the UK variant. Source: 1. BBC turns to the dark web in a bid to fight censorship (via Neowin) - main article 2. BBC News launches 'dark web' Tor mirror (via BBC) - reference to the main article
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