Longer online version; see re-sub-edited PDF

French unions at AFP get Google cash for journalists

WE HAVE AN example of how journalists can benefit when legislation to regulate the internet giants is done right. Journalists' unions at the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) on 27 April signed a deal that gives all AFP journalists, including local hires, stringers and those on temporary contracts €275 a year - their share of what AFP has been paid for use of its copy by online platforms.

A statement by one of those unions described the process as "like pulling teeth". The Syndicat National des Journalistes section of the Confédération générale du travail (SNJ-CGT) acknowledges that "management went all out to get remuneration for AFP copy used on the internet by the digital giants."

AFP gets the money from the giants because of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. When this was "transposed" into the law of France, the government rejected calls to make a more definite demand of publishers than giving an "appropriate and equitable share" to journalists. It did, though, set up a mechanism for deciding the share.

In negotiations the unions won:

  • a doubling of the payment from AFP's first proposal;
  • extension of the payment to all AFP journalists, not just those working in EU member states;
  • a mechanism for re-negotiating payments if or when AFP receives cash from other internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter or TikTok;
  • a review in any case in two years's time.

The SNJ-CGT notes that "275 euros may not be a big deal for journalists with headquarters status. But for our local colleagues in Dakar, Bogota, Kinshasa and elsewhere, who are usually forgotten when their colleagues gain social rights, this sum will not be peanuts."

Meanwhile, journalists' unions across Europe are working to get their members a fair share of income from the internet giants. And in the English-speaking world there are moves to facilitate payments to news publishers - with no mention of any share for journalists.

  • 7 July 2022 We changed the headline to reflect the fact that the payments are for all AFP journalists, whether members of any of the unions or not.