NEW DELHI: The government is looking to make Big Tech majors Google (which also owns YouTube), Meta (owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp), Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, and Amazon pay Indian newspapers and digital news publishers’ a share of revenue for using their original content, following a stance already adopted in Australia and to some degree within the European Union.
The move is being mooted through regulatory interventions, which may happen as part of revisions to the existing IT laws, minister of state for IT and electronics Rajeev Chandrasekhar said.
“The market power on digital advertising that is currently being exercised by the Big Tech majors, which places Indian media companies at a position of disadvantage, is an issue that is seriously being examined in the context of new legalisations and rules,” Chandrasekhar told TOI, in perhaps the first official statement by the Indian government on plans to make the global internet giants pay for using news/information generated by independent news and publishing outlets.
The global digital and social media platforms have gained immensely from the rapid spread of internet and smartphones, and managed to grab advertising revenues as well as viewership (both print and video). Newspapers and digital news publishers say that this growth has been fuelled by the original content created — and paid for — by them, among other factors.
The government feels that the growth of social media and tech platforms has resulted in “consolidating market power” only with a handful of Big Tech companies, leaving many of the original content creators at a disadvantage. “The news publishers have no negotiating leverage at all, and this needs to be tackled legislatively. This is an important issue for us,” said Chandrasekhar.
In India, the matter has been raised by the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) and the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) who have approached fairplay watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Google, accusing the company of abuse of dominant position in news aggregation to impose unfair conditions on news publishers.
As the CCI ordered an inquiry against Google over the allegations, the INS said in its complaint that it has “highlighted the fact that the producer/publisher of news which are made available in digital format, are not being paid a fair value for their content, despite them having invested heavily in creating appropriate content for the customers, who search for news items using the Google platform.”
The Indian newspaper and digital publishing bodies said that several countries, including Australia, France and Spain, have passed legislation that requires tech companies, including Google, to adequately compensate content producers for using their content and search results.

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