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French media progress against X in legal battle over payments

A Paris court ruled that X needed to provide French media with information about how much money it makes from publishing their content.

X has argued the platform is not subject to the neighbouring rights law
X has argued the platform is not subject to the neighbouring rights law - Copyright AFP Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV
X has argued the platform is not subject to the neighbouring rights law - Copyright AFP Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

A Paris court ruled Thursday that X needed to provide French media with information about how much money it makes from publishing their content as part of a legal battle over rights payments.

A dozen media outlets including Le Monde, Le Figaro and AFP are seeking payment of so-called neighbouring rights. The EU created in 2019 the form of copyright that allows print media to demand compensation for using their content.

The ruling orders X to act within two months to provide the media organisations with data including the number of views of their information, the number of clicks on the content, as well as data about reader engagement such as retweets, likes and sharing.

X was required to inform the media about the revenue generated in France by X from this information, according to a copy of the ruling.

X was also ordered to describe how its algorithms lead it to publishing the media content.

The information, which must remain confidential, is necessary for a “transparent evaluation” of the amount the media consider due for publication of their content under neighbouring rights legislation, said the ruling.

The judge handed down the ruling under an accelerated procedure and the media outlets will need to return to court for a ruling forcing X to pay.

But AFP’s chief executive Fabrice Fries hailed the ruling as a “decisive step” in getting the new right honoured in practice as it recognises that X is subject to the law.

“The ruling confirms that X/Twitter is subject to neighbouring rights for the media and it forces the platform to provide information required by the law to determine the payments” due to media outlets, he wrote on X.

– France as a test case –

Last year the media outlets, which also include the Huffington Post and Les Echos-Le Parisien, filed a suit after X refused to negotiate. A hearing was held on March 4 after mediation efforts failed.

AFP’s lawyer Julien Guinot-Delery called the ruling unprecedented. “X’s obstruction can no longer continue.”

X’s lawyers declined to immediately comment on the ruling.

But during the March hearing X’s lawyer argued the platform is not subject to the neighbouring rights law, which resulted from an EU directive, as it is users that post content on the platform.

France has been a test case for the EU rules on neighbouring rights and after initial resistance Google and Facebook both agreed to pay some French media for articles shown in web searches.

Despite making payments to media Google was recently fined 250 million euros ($270 million) for not negotiating in good faith with news publishers and failing to respect some of the promises it had made.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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