Link tax and broken web: dispute between Google and Microsoft escalates

Google’s “Foreign Minister” Kent Walker is outraged by Microsoft’s strategy in the intensified debate in many countries about appropriate remuneration for press publishers. “We welcome the discussion about ways to create a better economic future for quality journalism,” writes the Internet company’s vice president in a blog post. But proposals that would prevent access to the open web, such as calling for reward “for just displaying links on web pages”, hurt “consumers, small businesses and publishers”.

“We also believe that this important debate should be about the substance of the subject and not about bare corporate opportunism,” Kent pointed to “Microsoft’s sudden interest” in the dispute. Google respects the success of the software company from Redmond and competes hard with its competitors in areas such as cloud computing, search, productivity applications, video conferencing, e-mail & Co. Unfortunately, Microsoft is returning to its usual behavior in this intensified battle on the market, by attacking its competitors and lobbying for regulations that benefit its own interests ”.

The Redmond-based company “made selfish claims and is even ready to destroy the functionality of the open web,” the manager responsible for Google’s global relationship management accuses the competitor. The “claims made about our business and the way we work with news publishers” are “simply wrong”. Google is helping publishers around the world to develop new business models and will license news content over the next three years via the “News Showcase” with a budget of one billion US dollars. However, this initiative only applies to selected partners in the field of journalism.

Microsoft is returning with its “latest attack” on “long-known practices,” Kent links to one Wikipedia article on “FUD” (“Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt”). With such a spread of “fear, uncertainty and doubt”, the Redmond-based company recently made a name for itself, especially in the fight against Linux. All of this comes at a time when Microsoft is at the center of criticism after the SolarWinds attack and the massively exploited exchange holes and the associated hacks by tens of thousands of customers including authorities, NATO allies, utilities and hospitals.

Kent therefore sees behind the statements Microsoft in the clinch over dealing with publishers a diversionary maneuver in the style of the “Scroogled” campaign. In 2012, the Redmond-based company accused the competitor from Silicon Valley of using the Google Shopping product search engine to pay for the goods that could be found there. With LinkedIn, MSN, Microsoft News and Bing, Microsoft offers many services through which news is regularly consumed and shared, the Google manager rants further. For this, however, much less money flowed into the media industry than through its own initiatives.

The two IT giants had recently fought a violent exchange of blows around the new Australian media law. Microsoft’s President Brad Smith brought Bing into play as an alternative at the time, when Microsoft likes to make its contribution to a fair relationship between technology companies and the free press. Facebook and Google, however, had threatened to stop displaying Australian news content. However, Google then took money in hand to set up large individual media providers such as News Corp. to be paid by Rupert Murdoch through his “Showcase”. The fact that the Australian News Media Bargaining Code leads to a link tax could ultimately be averted.

The new clinch ignites the intergroup draft for a Journalism and Competition Preservation Act, which the Democrat David Cicilline and his Republican colleague Ken Buck brought back to the US House of Representatives this week. Similar to the Australian media law and European ancillary copyright law, the US initiative is intended to improve the negotiating position of press publishers vis-à-vis search engine operators and news aggregators in licensing procedures.

Microsoft-Manager Smith welcomed the project at a hearing in the subcommittee on antitrust issues in the House of Representatives on Friday. He pointed to an imbalance between publishers and online platforms. Newspaper advertising revenue fell from $ 49.4 billion in 2005 to $ 14.3 billion in 2018, while Google’s advertising revenue rose from $ 6.1 billion to $ 116 billion. While news helps fuel search engines, media companies are often poorly or poorly rewarded for their use, said Smith. “The problems journalism faces today are partly due to a fundamental lack of competition in search engines. and causing ad tech markets that are controlled by Google. ”


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