Is It Possible To Get Fair Coverage Of The Link Tax Bill When The News Orgs Covering It Are The Main Beneficiaries?

from the corrupt-bargain dept

We’ve been covering the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), which is a blatant handout by Congress in the form of a link tax that would require internet companies pay news orgs (mainly the vulture capitalist orgs that have been buying up local newspapers around the country, firing most of the journalists and living off of the legacy revenue streams) for… daring to send them traffic. We’ve gone over all the ways the bill is bad. We’ve gone over the fact that people in both the House and the Senate are (at this very moment) looking for ways to sneak it into law when no one’s looking. Indeed, there are reports that there will be an announcement tonight that it’s included as a part of the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA).

The whole thing stinks of corruption. Politicians often rely on local newspapers for endorsements to win re-election campaigns, so they want to keep local papers happy. And it’s the perfect kind of corrupt handout for Congress. It’s not even using “taxpayer” funds. It’s forcing other companies — the hated internet companies — to foot the bill.

And, here’s the thing: the newspapers themselves are now stumping for the bill.

Newspapers nationwide are running editorials today in favor of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which passed a Senate committee with bipartisan support in September and has been waiting ever since for a floor vote.

Which… seems pretty sketchy when you think about it. The newspapers don’t seem likely to be running any editorials, or even op-eds, highlighting the problems and cronyism of the JCPA. Because, why would they? If it passes, it’s literally free cash for the companies.

What newspaper will run articles explaining how the JCPA won’t help journalists, but rather their private equity owners? What newspaper will run articles explaining how the JCPA fundamentally breaks the concept of the open internet where you can link anywhere you want for free? What newspaper will run op-eds explaining how the JCPA messes with copyright law in dangerous ways by implying a new right to demand a license for links or fair use snippets?

If “newspapers nationwide” are stumping for the JCPA in their editorial pages, then it looks like we have to assume that they’re not open to anything highlighting the problems and dangers of the bill.

And that, alone, should cause people to worry. It’s showing how these news orgs are willing to forget about basic fairness in their coverage in order to stump for a corrupt handout for their owners. Shameful.

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Comments on “Is It Possible To Get Fair Coverage Of The Link Tax Bill When The News Orgs Covering It Are The Main Beneficiaries?”

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17 Comments
Blake Stacey (profile) says:

Joshua Lamel reports an alarming possibility over at the fowl place:

If what I am hearing is true, Senator Schumer got Republicans to back off opposition to JCPA by giving them something they wanted bad – getting rid of the Covid vaccine mandate on our troops. Even the proverbial smoked filled room thinks this is sketchy and gross.

OK, unsubstantiated rumors, stories get distorted in the retelling, and all that, but yikes.

Nemo_bis (profile) says:

EU link tax and newspapers

When the debate on article 15 of the copyright directive raged in the EU, newspapers in Italy didn’t cover any of the opposing voices. The only accepted line was that “big tech” was the only entity opposing the proposal, everyone else wasn’t even mentioned.

I have it on good authority that this was ordered from the very top. All publishers had agreed to make their newspapers stick to this line.

Do you know what’s the only newspaper which accepted to publish a short article about how there were also other views, like free knowledge projects? The catholic bishops newspaper, Avvenire. I guess the bishop of Rome was the one publisher who had not been informed of the line to hold.

Rich (profile) says:

Imagine for a moment the chorus of flabbergasted scoffing that would reverberate unprecedented levels of contempt throughout the halls of every news organization if a bunch of uppity advertisers started demanding news organizations pay a per link fee for the honor of sending traffic and customers to them as well.

If Google would show a little backbone, they could just omit those results. Do so for one day, then see how the tune changes.

nasch (profile) says:

Re:

If Google would show a little backbone, they could just omit those results.

They would have to do so before a newspaper announced that they wanted to negotiate.

“No covered platform may retaliate against an eligible digital journalism provider for participating in a negotiation conducted under section 3, or an arbitration conducted under section 4, including by refusing to index content or changing the ranking, identification, modification, branding, or placement of the content of the eligible digital journalism provider on the covered platform.”

https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/22268617/jcpa.pdf

Drew Wilson (user link) says:

It Is Possible to Get Fairer Coverage

Based on my experience in Canada (which is pushing through their own version of a link tax), it is possible to get more fair coverage. The problem is that it won’t come from mainstream outlets. Even in Canada, when it comes to link taxes, the major media outlets have proven over and over again that they can’t be trusted with their coverage of that bill. It winds up being thinly veiled propaganda telling readers that it’s all about compensation for a journalists work when the truth is very different from that.

For better coverage, you look towards outlets who have nothing to gain from such a bill. That is small, independent, typically online only outlets. Maybe it’s coverage from a site that likes to get the dirt in technology related news or something like that. Maybe a website similarly named to Dirt on Tech or something like that.

Seriously, having fought against the link taxes for a while, it did feel like a very solitary battle until a few other small startups popped up also condemning it. It has long felt like the smaller startups are there to provide the other side of the story because of the failures of modern mainstream “journalism” outlets. It’s not an ideal situation, but it does, at least, justify our existence once again.

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