Over four months have passed since the Canadian government’s Bill C-18, or the ‘Online News Act,’ was given royal assent and effectively made law.
The Online News Act was essentially put in place to allow for Canadian news sources and their journalists to be paid a fair amount of money for posting news to “intermediary’s” websites such as Meta’s Facebook and Instagram as well as Google.
These two companies were singled out because both profit in the billions and Canada was trying to get 4% of their profits to distribute amongst the nations journalists. This would amount to Google paying $172 million and Meta paying $62 million.
Ever since June 22nd, when the bill was given royal assent, the two companies have pushed back hard against Canada, with Meta even going so far as to block all news content on both Instagram and Facebook.
This week, Canada announced that the government had struck a deal with Google after long months of negotiations.
Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage, issued a statement on November 29th.
“Following weeks of productive discussions, I am happy to announce that we have found a path forward with Google for the implementation of the Online News Act,” St-Onge said.
“This will benefit the news sector and allow Google to continue to play an important role in giving Canadians access to reliable news content.”
Google is to pay the Canadian Government $100 million in financial support annually, which will be distributed to a wide range of news businesses across the country, including independent news businesses and those from Indigenous and official-language minority communities.
The $100 million will be indexed based on inflation annually.
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“We thank the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, for acknowledging our concerns and deeply engaging in a series of productive meetings about how they might be addressed,” said said Kent Walker, President of Global Affairs at Google and Alphabet.
Walker says Google is pleased that the government has committed to addressing their core issues with Bill C-18.
One such concern was the need for a better path to an exemption at a clear commitment threshold.
“While we work with the government through the exemption process based on the regulations that will be published shortly, we will continue sending valuable traffic to Canadian publishers,” Walker concluded.
Going forward, Google will work with a single collective whose role will be to distribute this money to all interested eligible news businesses based on the number of full-time journalists engaged they employ.
“A sustainable news ecosystem is good for everyone. News and journalism serve to inform communities, drive civic engagement and counter the rise of disinformation,” St-Onge explained.
“Access to news helps Canadians fully benefit and participate in democratic society. With newsrooms cutting positions or closing entirely, the health of the Canadian news industry has never been more at risk.”
As far as Meta’s negotiations with Canada are going, they have pushed back much harder against this deal since the beginning.
They now have until December 19th to strike a deal with Canada, when the enforcement of the legislation will come into full.