Neighboring rights: “Le Monde”, “Le Figaro” and “Les Echos – Le Parisien” on the offensive against Twitter

Posted Jul 11, 2023, 6:37 PM

The French press goes on the offensive against Twitter. This Tuesday, the editors of “Figaro”, “Echoes” and “Parisian”, and publications of the “Le Monde” group (in addition to the evening daily, “Télérama”, “Courrier International”, “Le Huffington Post”, Malesherbes Publications and “L’Obs”) have jointly announced that they will be summoned for interim measures before the court Paris, Twitter’s European holding company (Twitter International Unlimited Company) and its French subsidiary.

Object of their wrath? The absence of remuneration by the firm to the blue bird of neighboring rights, instituted by a European directive transposed into French law in 2019, and which provides that platforms remunerate press agencies and publishers for the reproduction of their content .

In a joint press release, the French publishers “regret that the companies Twitter France and Twitter International Unlimited Company have, unlike their counterparts, never agreed to negotiate with them in application of the legal provisions on copyright and rights neighbors “. Through this legal action, they are asking to be contacted by the company run by Elon Musk “the figures and statistics allowing the precise determination of the amount of their remuneration due to them”.

Unsuccessful steps

After long discussions, Facebook (now Meta) And Google have signed with the Alliance of the press of general information (Apig) agreements, respectively at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, aimed at remunerating neighboring rights. But, despite “several months of steps and then unsuccessful reminders” according to the three press groups, Twitter has so far always refused.

According to our sources, the social network – which responds to requests from journalists by an automatic e-mail with an emoji in the form of dejection – would consider that it is not indebted to it, considering itself as a host. He would point out in particular that the articles are pushed onto his platform directly by journalists or press editors, and would also hide behind the exception of “short extracts”.

Inadmissible arguments for press publishers, who demand the application of the law. “Twitter, like its peers at the major crossroads of the Net, always takes a little time to get into the atmosphere,” notes Pierre Louette, CEO of the Les Echos – Le Parisien group. These players, whose model lies in the monetization of content that they do not pay for, must learn to live with the rules in place. »

Hearing in December

“Twitter has decided that the law applies to everyone, but not to them, is surprised Louis Dreyfus, the chairman of the management board of the Le Monde group. I don’t know why Twitter, a company that not too long ago was still worth $44 billion, would deviate from this. The other platforms have agreed to engage in discussions and reach agreements. »

Same story on the side of the Figaro. “It was nevertheless paradoxical that this social network where information, especially when it is of quality, plays an essential role, does not respond to the requests of press publishers, underlines Marc Feuillée, the general manager of the group. It is largely based on our content and it is therefore legitimate for it to submit to the neighboring rights regime, as other digital players have agreed to do. That’s why we decided to take action. Our request is legitimate and we are collectively determined to see this matter through to the end. »

According to our sources, a hearing before the judge has been scheduled for next December. Justice would also have ordered the parties to meet a mediator by then, Professor Pierre Sirinelli. A big challenge for this specialist in intellectual property, as the positions of Twitter and press publishers seem far apart for the moment.

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