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Why is it OK for rich guys to steal my work?

Every day, the remnants of a once-mighty press corps across this country cover stories designed to inform, entertain, and expose.

Sometimes they're minutes-long pieces, and sometimes they're the first trivia about breaking news like fires, storms, or even elections. Sometimes investigations can take years.

Inevitably, as soon as we publish, some rich guy with an algorithm comes along and wipes this work off the shelves at Target like deodorant for their own benefit. every. single. Story.

Retail theft is causing social breakdown and prompting a ballot measure that would put habitual toothpaste thieves in jail.

But what about the billionaire tech bros dismantling democracy for profit, stealing thousands of times a minute by selling advertising for something they don't own? It's mostly shrugged off, even though more media professionals are being fired, more publications are going out of business, reliable information is so scarce, and truth itself has become political. .

Asked what he thought about the recent layoffs in the media industry, including the loss of more than 100 colleagues at the paper and layoffs, state Sen. Tom Amberg (D-Garden Grove) said, “It's sad in many ways.'' ” he said. and other publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time, Condé Nast, and Messenger.

In all, According to reports, nearly 600 jobs have been cut. In January.

“It's also sad on a democratic level,” Amberg said.

Unsurprisingly, Amberg and state Rep. Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) are trying to do with this bill what other countries are already doing: deter theft. More than $1 million has been spent lobbying by Big Tech to repeal it. The spending was revealed by the newspaper's Queenie Wong, who sadly took part in the job cuts, forcing Mr Wicks and Mr Amberg to shelve the measure last year.

They are determined to bring it back this year, but that will depend on how much their colleagues are willing to buy. Because, of course, there will be more money poured into killing it, and more pressure from big tech companies trying to keep the whole mess out of the public eye. That pressure will extend from the halls of Congress to the governor's office.

If California doesn't pass Assembly Bill 886But that means our elected leaders are cowards or greedy money-grabbers who are content to watch democracy crumble in exchange for campaign contributions. To be honest, it's so simple, yet so heartbreaking.

“For me, it's a basic fairness issue,” Wicks said of the concept of internet platforms paying news publishers a portion of their profits. “I think it’s hard for them to say we can’t do it here when we’re doing it elsewhere.”

She's referring to Australia and Canada, where she claims that while Big Tech is simultaneously raking in ad dollars from news content, only a minority of people are actually looking for news on their platforms. I'm tired of it.

Both countries have passed a flawed law (albeit one that has been significantly weakened by lobbying efforts) that requires Google and Meta (parent companies of Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to negotiate payments with news publishers. It was approved.

A similar bill has been introduced here in the United States. Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2022; In a Republican-controlled Congress, the far-right, which seized power through propaganda and lies, has little interest in reining in Congress.

As a result, California will lead the way. The state is well-positioned with its economic strength to compete against the Musks and Zuckerbergs of the world.

“The lessons to be learned from Canadian law are: [internet platforms] I’ll pay you,” Haris Mateen told me. “Therefore, Californians have a full right to demand that journalism companies pay.”

Mateen is an assistant professor of finance at the University of Houston who studies this issue. In November, he and his colleagues published a paper It estimates that if Congress passes the Journalism Protection Act, internet platforms will owe U.S. publishers between $11.9 billion and $13.9 billion annually.

Using the same methodology, he estimates that Google would owe California news publishers $1.4 billion a year and Facebook would owe $265 million a year. In 2023, Facebook's revenue was $135 billionand Google's parent company Alphabet, Revenue was $307 billion. So we're not talking about bankrupting these companies.

“I want Google to be financially successful. I want them to be one of the richest companies in the world,” Wicks said. “I also want them to do the right thing.”

Mateen and his colleagues also found that internet platforms and news publishers were offering “free services.” This means that if Internet companies aren't just stealing part of the equation, each company makes more money working with each other than it does alone.

Internet companies have long argued that news has little value to them or their users, so they don't need to pay for it. A former internet executive recently said that posting articles brings traffic to news sites, and that it's a “stupid complaint” to protest the use of news for free because “everyone wants traffic!” he claimed.

The traffic is amazing. But traffic without revenue has no value. And the idea that people aren't looking for news online seems highly questionable (but the data is proprietary to internet companies).

Google searches for “Ukraine?” Are they really the ones looking for a recipe for red borscht rather than updates on the war?

Search for “LA Arashi?” Are users really not looking for information about current weather hazards from news outlets like NBC, the Associated Press, and the Los Angeles Times?

“Can you imagine a version of Google without news?” Mateen wonders. “It's going to be like Amazon.”

But this is the main threat internet platforms are using to block the US or California bills. If these laws are passed, They will drop news from their site. News publishers are concerned about this. That's because, even if searchability currently generates only a small amount of revenue, it's critical to skyrocketing revenue.

In protest of Canadian law, meth was released this summer It blocked access to news on the site for Canadians.

Pascal St-Onge, Canadian Minister of Culture and Member of Parliament, said: was warned at the time “Facebook is trying to send messages not only to Canada, but also to other countries like New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.”

But Mateen said Canada is a much smaller market than the United States or California, and it would be difficult for internet giants to enforce such a ban here.

“California's state government has much more negotiating power in this case,” he says.

Mateen also warns that the window to resolve the issue is closing.

The urgency to act now is “huge” as the coming age of AI is set to make the situation even worse and more complex, he warns.

Already, companies are experimenting with using artificial intelligence to create news articles. The results weren't all that impressive, but more is on the way.

Mateen said that as technology improves, which he expects to happen very soon, platforms will sweep up articles and feed them into AI applications that will mash them up like potatoes and spew out original content. Ta.

These stolen articles are altered and intertwined enough with multiple sources that it becomes impossible to trace them back to a single original article.

There is no accountability, no trust, and no one to pay.

Now that news has real value, it's essential to set a precedent, so if AI sucks up all the news, news companies can license it before their content is completely destroyed and untraceable. It is reasonable to obtain or seek other compensation.

The media cannot stop Big Tech itself. The company has been experimenting with his one-time deals with subscriptions, such as: Agreement between Google and the New York Times And other desperate but futile attempts to find “new models” that somehow close the revenue gap, without stopping internet platforms from doing whatever they want without any consequences.

Of course, there is more than one problem plaguing the news industry. But like retail theft, the news media needs a systemic solution: the thieves are too powerful, too organized, too brazen, and require government intervention.

Whether that happens ultimately depends on the public's willingness to pay as much attention to news theft as they do to deodorant.

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