Journalism Usage Fee – California Measure Would Force Internet Sites To Pay News Outlets

A yet-to-be-formalized California bill called the Journalism Usage Fee would force internet sites like Facebook to pay news outlets for news content.

California lawmakers this week are launching a plan to force digital giants like Facebook and Google to pay publishers for news content, taking a contentious global fight to the state level.

On Monday, California Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) announced legislation to require large tech companies to pay a “journalism usage fee” whenever they run digital ads next to news content, such as articles, while making publishers reinvest in journalism jobs.

The California Journalism Competition and Preservation Act resembles a separate bitterly contested federal bill that would allow publishers to jointly bargain content distribution terms with the tech giants. 

News industry leaders said the California bill is the first of its kind at the state level — and that it could ignite another major standoff between Silicon Valley and media groups.

A slew of countries have considered or advanced proposals in recent years aimed at forcing tech companies to share more of their advertising revenue with traditional publishers, who for years have lost ground to giants like Facebook parent Meta and Google on digital ads.

But the efforts have faced immense blowback from the digital ads behemoths, who at times have threatened to remove news content from entire countries if their policymakers moved ahead with what they called ill-advised and counterproductive news bills. 

When U.S. lawmakers considered including a federal proposal in a sprawling spending bill last year, Meta said it would “consider removing news from our platform” if lawmakers moved ahead. (Spokesman Andy Stone said at the time the bill would submit the company to “government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets.”)

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