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Google News Showcase just landed in Italy: Google’s answer to the EU Copyright Directive

Google News Showcase will soon arrive on Italian screens. This new licensing program, announced by Google in 2020, gives readers access to more in-depth content on Google News and Discover, with compensation paid to the publishers who have signed an agreement. Italy thus joins Australia, Germany, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, United Kingdom, and Argentina, where News Showcase is already active.

In recent times, the content industry, governments, and regulators around the world have encouraged the adoption of new legislation requiring tech giants acting as intermediaries (so-called Over the top “OTT”) like Google and Facebook to pay publishers directly in order to share their news.

In the EU, after lengthy debate, Directive EU 2019/790 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (not yet implemented in Italy) established a neighboring right in favor of newspaper publishers, who are granted the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit the direct or indirect reproduction, as well as the making available, of their editorial content online by content sharing platforms.

So after almost 20 years of tensions between content providers and Internet Service Providers (with similar situations in the Music and Entertainment industry) another step has been taken towards a possible balance, and publishers can negotiate agreements and receive remuneration for the use of the content they produce.

It should be noted that according to the EU Copyright Directive, the negotiation is not mandatory and the adequate remuneration for publishers has not been defined, as aptly observed by FIEG, an association of Italian Publishers.

So, the question is why Google News Showcase now?

Google expressly clarified that these agreements, negotiated on an individual basis, take into account the rights provided for under Article 15 of the European Copyright Directive concerning the specific online uses of press publications.

Currently, these agreements have been signed by 13 publishing groups and 76 national and local publications and, based on the press releases, it seems a satisfactory solution.

Delivering high quality, accurate, and complete information is labor-intensive, but most advertising budgets no longer go in the pockets of the press industry. In recent times, we all have experienced the risks connected with fake news disseminated on the web (the latest example being the spread of fake news on a divisive topic like vaccines). And what do we do when we need to do some fact checking after having read something weird on social media? We look to our favorite newspaper website for reassurance.

That is why the press needs to be supported and to adjust to new paradigms and the challenges of the digital environment.