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Another internet giant half-bows to the inevitable

AS WE WAIT for the European Commission to publish its proposals on regulating digital services, Facebook has followed Google's lead in pre-emptively offering payment to newspaper publishers. The ones they choose, that is.

The Guardian reports that "most British newspaper groups have signed up" to Facebook's programme, which will see articles appear in "a dedicated news section on the site that is due to launch in January." How much will they get? "Facebook declined to comment on the amount of money it is putting into the scheme, but some publishers are privately expecting to make millions of pounds a year from the multi-year deals they have signed..."

The Freelance sees this, like Google's move in October to pay selected publishers, as a last-ditch attempt to neutralise the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM) that will require it to pay publishers for use of extracts from their output - and which demands that publishers hand over a fair share to journalists. That law is the subject of continuing legal proceedings in France, and has not yet been "transposed" into the laws of other EU member states.

The EU Digital Services Act was, last we heard, due to be unveiled on 9 December - or possibly 15 December. We did wonder whether it was a recognition that the DSM lacked teeth. Google has already implemented its traditional cut-off-my-nose-to-spite-my-face approach by cutting back its indexing of French newspaper sites to bare headlines, omitting the extracts for which it should be negotiating licences.