European media back plan for search engine payouts

Google, a unit of Alphabet, has said it was not used in the alleged Russian campaign to steer the US election

European media groups voiced concern Tuesday that the European Union could ditch plans to force search engines like Google to pay them when their content is used.

A proposed European directive on authors' rights prepared by the European Commission included plans to create a so-called "neighbouring right" to such payouts from search engines.

But a European Parliament report on the proposal does not contain neighbouring rights, a move the board of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) "deeply regrets", Agence France-Presse (AFP), a member of the alliance, said in a statement echoed by various other European media groups.

The 32 news organisations -- which also include Britain's Press Association, Germany's DPA and Spain's EFE -- called on the parliament to reinstate the plan.

AFP noted that search engines and other internet aggregators have been making a profit using content "that they have not created or financed", which makes neighbouring rights crucial to protecting the content of news agencies and publishers.

"The non-authorised use of media content by search engines and aggregators threatens citizens' access to quality information and is worrying at this time of 'fake news' and disinformation that can distort elections," the EANA said in a separate statement.