A new bill would pave the way for small news publishers to work together to negotiate better deals with tech companies.
Under current US law, companies are severely limited in their ability to organize for the purpose of price negotiation. Any such attempt is a violation of antitrust laws, and falls under price fixing. Companies like Google and Facebook have been able to use that to their advantage, forcing smaller news publishers to accept terms they’re not happy with.
A new bipartisan bill seeks to address this issue, by waving price fixing restrictions for small news publishers. This would give them the ability to legally band together and present a united front in negotiations.
Representative Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, told Reuters the first such bill will be unveiled within weeks.
“The biggest threat to the free market economy is big tech and it (potential legislation) should be fairly tightly focused on that,” Buck said.
Facebook is currently in a scuffle with the Australian news media over a proposed law that would force the company to pay for news it links to. In response, Facebook has blocked Australian consumers and news organizations from posting any news, a move that has been widely condemned.
The US and other countries are clearly concerned with avoiding a similar outcome.