EU Indie Producers Issue Code of Fair Practices to Streamers

The European Producers Club (EPC), based in Paris, represents 130 independent film and television drama producers throughout Europe. The group just issued a four-point Code of Fair Practices for VOD Services aimed at Amazon Studios, Disney+, Netflix and other streaming companies that commission content from its members. France, Italy and Germany are currently in negotiations to implement Europe’s earlier Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which requires streaming companies to invest revenue into local productions.

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Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Australia’s parliament passed the first law of its kind, requiring Facebook and Google to pay local publishers for news content on their platforms. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted that, “the code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament.” In fact, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison had discussed the new law with leaders of Canada, France, India and the United Kingdom. Facebook recently pledged to spend at least $1 billion over the next three years to license news content. Continue reading Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

France Establishes Repairability Index for Electronic Devices

France has pioneered a new “repairability index” for all electronic devices sold in that country. The criteria for the final score include how easy it is to take the device apart, availability of spare parts and technical documentation. The index will be implemented, with fines for non-compliance, beginning next year. This move is part of France’s stated goal to fight planned obsolescence, as manufacturers intentionally create products that need to be replaced frequently. Fighting such obsolescence reduces waste and France’s effort may serve as a model for other countries. Continue reading France Establishes Repairability Index for Electronic Devices

Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech on Digital Ads

The state of Maryland has taken a groundbreaking step, with its State Senate voting to approve the first U.S. tax on revenue from digital ads sold by Amazon, Facebook, Google and other major technology companies. The Senate had to override the governor’s veto to pass the measure, after its House of Delegates gave the law the greenlight. The new law is expected to generate an estimated $250 million in the first year, with money going to that state’s schools. Connecticut and Indiana have introduced similar bills to tax Big Tech companies. Continue reading Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech on Digital Ads

Australia Proposes Google, Facebook Pay for News Content

Australia is introducing a law that would make Google, Facebook and possibly other tech companies pay news publishers for their content. In response, Google threatened to remove its search engine from the country, fearing the law would set a dangerous precedent. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said the country’s lawmakers will not respond to threats. News makes up 12.5 percent of Google searches there. In France, meanwhile, Google inked a deal with that country’s media publishers to negotiate individual license agreements. Continue reading Australia Proposes Google, Facebook Pay for News Content

Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined Twitter €450,000 (about $546,000) for failing to notify the regulator or document a data breach within 72 hours. The breach, revealed in January 2019, exposed some Android users’ private tweets for over four years. Twitter chief privacy officer Damien Kieran said the company takes responsibility … and remains “fully committed to protecting the privacy and data of [its] customers.” This is the first time a U.S. tech company has been served with a GDPR fine in a cross-border case. Continue reading Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

European Commission Files Antitrust Charges Against Amazon

After months of anticipation, the European Union, led by competition chief Margrethe Vestager, is finally filing antitrust charges against Amazon, with the belief it has enough hard evidence to charge the Big Tech company. The EU claims that Amazon used data to build copycat products that undermines independent businesses, especially in France and Germany. EU regulators also have an ongoing investigation into Amazon’s alleged practice of favorable treatment for its “Buy Box” and “Prime Label” features. Continue reading European Commission Files Antitrust Charges Against Amazon

Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

Alibaba Group, China’s most valuable company with a market capitalization of $800+ billion, is paying $3.6 billion to gain more control of Sun Art Retail Group, which operates 480+ large supermarket stores. As in the U.S. and elsewhere, COVID-19 has seen many consumers shift to online shopping for food and other essentials. In 2017, Alibaba acquired a 36 percent stake in Sun Art for about $2.9 billion. With the latest purchase, Alibaba will own about 72 percent of the company and is positioned to compete with Walmart. Continue reading Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

European Union Alliance Aims to Compete in Cloud Services

In the European Union, 25 countries pledged to provide up to €10 billion over the next seven years to build a cloud computing service to compete with Alibaba, Amazon and Google. Dubbed the European Alliance on Industrial Data and Cloud, the partnership will draw funding from existing EU programs and debut by the end of 2020. EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton stated the declaration is a “foundation stone for the establishment of European cloud technology.” Cyprus and Denmark are the only two EU holdouts. Continue reading European Union Alliance Aims to Compete in Cloud Services

Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is drafting a bill that would require Facebook and Google to negotiate with media publishers and pay for content that appears on their sites. Facebook has responded by threatening to block users and news organizations from sharing local and international news stories on its site. Google, which said its free service would be “at risk,” stated that the law would give media companies “special treatment” that would allow them to make demands that would be difficult to meet. Continue reading Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

According to global civic movement Avaaz, over the past year Facebook enabled 3.8 billion views of misinformation related to health, almost four times the views of sites such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This has occurred despite Facebook’s partnership with these organizations to expose users to reliable information. In another effort to squelch misinformation, Facebook removed 790 QAnon groups and restricted another 1,950 groups, 440 pages and 10,000+ Instagram accounts. Continue reading Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

Facebook Lures TikTok Creators to Its Reels With Big Payday

Instagram has offered lucrative deals to some of TikTok’s top video creators to switch to its new competing service Reels, which parent company Facebook plans to debut early next month. According to sources, potential payments for some creators could be “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Similar to TikTok, Reels is a platform that allows users to share short-form video content. Some TikTok creators have amassed large followings, and have been paid by brands to promote products, wear branded clothing or use specific songs. Continue reading Facebook Lures TikTok Creators to Its Reels With Big Payday

Spotify, Universal Music Join Forces With New Licensing Pact

Spotify inked a new multi-year global licensing deal with Universal Music Group after being out-of-contract for about a year. Under the terms of the agreement, Spotify has access to UMG’s catalog for streaming and UMG will be part of Spotify’s so-called two-sided marketplace, whereby it will pay for analytics, data and marketing. Spotify, under pressure to prove to investors that it can be more consistently profitable, spends most of its revenue on licensing deals with music publishers and record labels. Continue reading Spotify, Universal Music Join Forces With New Licensing Pact

European Union Court Overturns 2016 Decision Against Apple

The European Union overturned a 2016 decision that ordered Apple to make good on $14.9 billion in unpaid taxes to Ireland. Apple selecting Ireland as its European base to avoid taxation was the genesis that eventually led to the decision. The European Commission’s top antitrust regulator Margrethe Vestager accused the arrangement of being an illegal subsidy not available to Apple’s rivals and demanded that Ireland recover 10 years of back taxes. Amazon and Google have pending court appeals to overturn similar EU decisions. Continue reading European Union Court Overturns 2016 Decision Against Apple

French Law to Fine Social Media Platforms for Hate Speech

France’s National Assembly passed a law that will fine social media companies up to €1.25 million ($1.36 million) for failing to remove “manifestly illicit” hate-speech posts within 24 hours of notification. Companies can be fined up to 4 percent of their global annual revenue if the violations are “serious and repeated.” The law, which will take effect July 1, also gives France’s audiovisual regulator the right to audit these companies’ systems for removing content. Critics claim “pre-emptive censorship.” Continue reading French Law to Fine Social Media Platforms for Hate Speech

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