EU unlikely to face a Facebook news ban after Australia

Facebook has blocked people in Australia from accessing and sharing news content in a dispute with the government that would require it to share revenue from news.

Jurisdictions around the world have been enacting rules to require Google, Facebook and others to share revenue with publishers, including a 2019 directive from Brussels which European Union countries are meant to enact into law by June.

So is the EU likely to face a Facebook news ban similar to the one imposed in Australia? No. Here are some reasons why:

Approved in 2019 to help Europe’s creative industries get a fair share of revenues, the EU’s copyright rules require Google and other online platforms to sign licensing agreements with musicians, performers, authors, news publishers and journalists to use their work.

The rules do not force online platforms to pay for links posted by publishers to their news site, the main grievance for Facebook with the Australian government.

In France, which was among the first EU countries to implement the new rules, news publishers have already struck a deal with Google which the European Commission, the EU executive, says is a clear sign that the copyright rules are effective in levelling the playing field.

Australia’s so-called Media Bargaining Code is based on Australian competition laws, underlining a tougher approach than the EU.

Facebook sought to defuse pressure from news publishers last month by launching Facebook News in Britain and signing up new partners Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, Financial Times, Sky News and Telegraph Media Group on top of other news outlets.

It is now seeking to enlist French and German media companies before rolling out the service in these two countries.

European media groups, part of the driving force behind the EU copyright rules, do not have the same clout and geographical scope as News Corp, which struck a global agreement with Google on Wednesday.

Large companies such as Germany’s Bertelsmann and French group Vivendi mainly dominate in their national markets because of linguistic and cultural differences across the bloc.