American Publishers Angered that Google Can Also Lobby Politicians

American publishers are on their own quest to freeload off of platforms, but are upset that the platforms are also lobbying.

It’s a debate that is seemingly mirroring Canada. American publishers are pushing for a link tax bill, claiming that linking is stealing content. That is, obviously, complete nonsense, but that is the bad talking point that many publishers are sticking to. This is all in a bid to get free money from the platforms.

One of the more shocking talking points during the Canadian link tax debate was the charge that platforms should have zero say in how a law that directly impacts them should operate. For supporters of the link tax, publishers should have the first and last word in this debate while the platforms should sit in the corner and take every demand that the publishers dish out, no questions asked. It’s a very totalitarian perspective, but because the mainstream media is writing many of these stories, the overwhelming message is that this is just how democracy works: one side of a debate gets everything, and the other side gets nothing.

While platforms like Facebook and Google have anything but a spotless history, that definitely does not preclude their ability to speak out on debates that relate to their business model. After all, that’s what fascism is about in the first place. Yet, it’s this dictatorial perspective that large American media publishers are gunning for. In an article published on KTLA, the authors seem to somehow think that Google spending lobbying money on a bill that affects them is somehow outrageous:

A California bill that would require large tech companies to pay news publishers for their content is on hold until at least next year, and it appears lobbying by those same companies played a role.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Google spent $1.5 million lobbying state lawmakers between January and September, including $1.2 million for an advertisement attacking Assembly Bill 886, the California Journalism Preservation Act.

In contrast, the California News Publishers Association and News/Media Alliance, both of which support the bill, spent $161,519 on lobbying in California during that same time period, the Times reports.

Obviously, there were other reasons for the delay such as some of the political squabbles going on as well as watching Canada go through with the passage of the Online News Act. Let’s face it, delaying the bill to wait and see what goes on in Canada is actually a very wise move as a LOT was learned from it – and almost all of it doesn’t bode well for the concept of a link tax in the first place.

If KTLA thinks it’s somehow a major scandal that Google spent money on lobbying in the country, well, welcome to America where lobbying is something of a national sport in the business world. Sure, the numbers may be interesting, but this really isn’t that newsworthy in the first place. Glad KTLA was able to return to consciousness to learn this fun little tidbit.

Additionally, the US is where Google is from. This means that, for the platform, the stakes are a bit higher (not to mention gaining influence is a bit easier). If I was a shareholder for Alphabet, it would’ve been a scandal that Google wasn’t lobbying the government more than anything else.

Since American media is lagging a bit behind on how things are turning out in the real world, let me bring them up to speed on what went on in Canada and the valuable lessons that were learned:

  1. Platforms do NOT depend on news content (and are not afraid to remove and replace it with other content)
  2. Meta has no problem blocking news links. The blocking of news links in Canada is still in place, even after several months. Before you ask, no, the lack of news links on Meta platforms didn’t hurt them in the slightest
  3. Google can and will block news links, crippling the entire news sector. The only reason the blocking never happened in Canada was because the Canadian government caved to Google so they can snatch up a get-out-of-jail free card

The bottom line is that the Canadian media banked that the platforms depended on their content, and the Canadian media lost that battle very handily. The more the media pushed for these laws, the more damage they inflicted on themselves. With Meta out of the picture for Canadian media, the whole sector lost out far more than what scraps they got out of the Google deal. Meta does not make the threats of pulling news links from their platform idly.

With that explained, the American media can proceed to punch themselves in the face. They are hell bent on doing that no matter how much common sense is directed towards them, so, at this point, it’s hard to see an outcome where they would do anything else but completely beat themselves up. To quote one of your past presidents, “please, proceed.”

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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