'Essential for survival of free press': France becomes first country to adopt EU copyright reform

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By Cristina Abellan Matamoros  with AFP
'Essential for survival of free press': France becomes first country to adopt EU copyright reform
Copyright  REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

France became the first country to adopt the copyright reform passed by the European Parliament in March that ensures media get paid for their original content by tech giants such as Facebook and Google.

This means that online platforms will now have to negotiate licensing deals with French publishers. If they don't, the French government will have to step in to help strike a deal.

The European Commission said the aim of the reform is to protect the bloc's cultural heritage and ensure publishers and artists get fair compensation from web giants.

READ MORE: Watch again: MEPs back controversial copyright reform

"We can be proud to be the first country to enshrine the EU directive into national law," said Culture Minister Franck Riester after the new reform was approved by the French parliament on Tuesday.

"This text is absolutely essential for our democracy and the survival of an independent and free press," he added.

The bill, first proposed in 2016, triggered debate, with Google and internet activists arguing it could pose a threat to the free exchange of opinions and culture online.

But artists and news publishers voiced heavy support for the online overhaul since they want to secure revenue from platforms that allow users to distribute their content.

In a statement, Carlo Perrone, President of the European Newspaper Publishers' Association, welcomed France's decision to adopt the reform.

"France is leading the way in implementing a right for press publishers giving concrete tools to improve press publishers' bargaining position."

The EU copyright directive is set to be adopted by all member states by April next year.

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