We learned on March 29 that the federal government is preparing to table a piece of legislation to force Web giants like Facebook and Google to sign agreements that would require them to pay out sums of money to the media whose news stories they relay. This future law would appoint a regulator to make sure the big digital players conclude enough agreements with the smaller players, under threat of punishment by the government.
Ottawa wants to require the Web giants to sign agreements all while maintaining that these must be determined by market forces. This lack of coherence reveals a desire to make these agreements mandatory without being entirely comfortable with this position, which potentially violates companies’ freedom of choice. Policy-makers seem to be forgetting, or simply ignoring, that these digital platforms have already concluded many agreements with the media, including some small players, which proves that the planned additional regulation is hardly necessary.
It would be in our interest to really leave the fate of such agreements to market forces, and not create a regulator to dictate the path to follow.