By Paul Vieira

 

OTTAWA--Google told Canada it requires eight changes to the law that would compel digital platforms to compensate media outlets, otherwise it would follow through on its threat to remove links to news articles on its search function for Canadian users.

Canada's legislature passed the law in June, and once regulations are finalized authorities would start enforcing provisions on Dec. 19. In a submission to the Canadian government, made public Friday, Google -- owned by Alphabet -- said the proposed regulations released last month fail to address its concerns.

According to Google, it is prepared to remove links to news articles on its search function for Canadian users, starting around Dec. 19. Google warned in late June of this potential move. Meta Platforms is already blocking news links for Canadian users of Facebook and Instagram rather than be subject to the law.

"We continue to have serious concerns that the core issues ultimately may not be solvable through regulation and that legislative changes may be necessary," Google said in a submission to the Canadian government.

The changes Google seeks covers issues such as which media outlets qualify for compensation, copyright limitations, and how digital platforms can obtain exemptions to the law.

Canada's law, called the Online News Act, "while well intended, is built upon a fundamentally flawed premise, yielding an unworkable framework and process that the regulations unfortunately do not remedy -- and in certain instances, exacerbate," Google said.

Google and Meta have argued the legislation exposes them to uncertain financial liability because it puts a price on free links to web pages, which contravenes copyright legislation and upends the concept of an open internet where users can search and connect to material without restrictions.

The regulations Canada released include a formula used to calculate how much the digital platforms would pay annually. Canada estimated the total for 2023 at $170 million, with Google on the hook for roughly three-quarters of the amount, or 4% of its total revenue from Canada.

According to Google, only 2% of all search queries in Canada seek news stories.

"The 4% appears to be an arbitrary figure that overstates the commercial value of news-related links," it said in its submission.

Canada's minister in charge of media policy, Pascale St-Onge, said this week that Google did submit its comments on the proposed regulations, and final rules would be coming shortly.

"I have always said it, my door is open, and my goal is to find the right balance and then ensure that people on the web participate in supporting our news rooms," she told reporters this week.

 

Write to Paul Vieira at paul.vieira@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 06, 2023 16:01 ET (20:01 GMT)

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