The Canadian Senate has passed legislation requiring websites like Google and Meta to compensate news organizations for information that has been syndicated or repurposed. This occurs at a time when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration is at odds with prominent Silicon Valley–based Internet firms. The measure is an effort to level the playing field between ad networks and the fast dwindling print media. Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has pledged to challenge Facebook and Google over their “threats” to de-index journalism.

In addition to offering financial assistance to financially strained media sites, traditional media outlets and broadcasters are delighted with the bill’s passing because they believe it would increase openness and equality in the digital news sector. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has announced that it will remove news from its services in Canada to ensure compliance with the bill. There is no set date for when the Online News Act will go into effect, but Meta plans to remove local news items from its site in advance of that. The bill will take effect six months after receiving royal assent.

Law backers argue that it will let smaller, more established ad agencies compete more fairly with industry leaders like Google and Meta. Menlo Park, California-based technology firm Meta has a history of similar behavior. The corporation briefly banned news on its site in Australia after legislation was passed in 2021 requiring digital companies to charge publishers for using their news content. Meta signed contracts with Australian publishing houses, and the conflict was resolved there.

The Canadian Minister of Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, will meet with Google executives to discuss the implications of the bill. There have been speculations that Google is considering removing news links from its popular search engine, but the company has yet to comment on these claims. Some Canadian users have reported being blocked from accessing the news as a result of experiments conducted by both Meta and Google.

The Online News Act mandates that major tech companies like Google and Meta strike deals with news publishers to compensate them for the usage of their content if it serves to create revenue for the companies. The tech giants will not be immediately burdened with additional duties even if the bill is passed. The public will be informed of the terms of any agreements negotiated and how they will be carried out when a digital giant is likely to be named under the legislation.

As the debate over how to fairly compensate journalists for their work on digital platforms continues around the world, the bill’s passage in Canada is a significant development. Navigating the new media ecosystem presents governments and internet companies with the difficult challenge of striking a balance between news providers and the digital giants that spread their content.

Legislation mandating that Google and Meta pay publishers for content they house has been adopted by the Canadian Senate. The struggling news industry is hopeful that this shift would let them compete on equal terms with the online advertising behemoths. Meta has already said that they intend to comply with the law by restricting Canadian users’ ability to access news on Facebook and Instagram. After being passed into law, the Online News Act will take effect for a period of six months. Both services need to establish payment terms with news organizations for this to function. This legislation is a major one in the direction of digital journalists being fairly compensated.

First reported on Federal News Network

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.