Brazil’s “Remuneration Right” will strengthen Big Tech and Big Media
Brazil’s new “fake news” law raises many concerns, but one of the least-understood and most dangerous is the Remuneration Right, a “link tax” that requires tech platforms to pay for the inclusion of text snippets when their users link to news articles:
The Remuneration Right was shoehorned into the legal proposal with little discussion or thought, and it shows. Structurally, the proposal is just a mess. For example, it makes an exemption for users who post the “IP address” of a news article. It took us quite a while to figure out that they meant “URL.”
These gaffes are just the start of the problems, though. The real issue is with the proposal’s substance — or lack thereof. The proposed law doesn’t define key terms like “journalism” or even “use,” and it leaves the question of how the system will be administered to secondary regulation.
We know how this turns out, because this isn’t the first time it’s been tried. In France and Australia, link tax proposals became an opportunity for the biggest media companies and the biggest tech companies to cut back-room deals that froze out the independent press and domestic tech platforms.
For example, in France, the EU Copyright Directive’s Link Tax resulted in a press organization inking a deal with Google that required media companies to opt into Google’s news product, and froze smaller press outlets out altogether. Today, that deal is mired in litigation:
In Australia, a media “bargaining code” that started life as an inclusive system for all the country’s press to demand more transparency and a bigger share of ad money from tech platforms was transformed into a private deal between Rupert Murdoch, Google and Facebook that left the independent press in the cold: