Agence France-Presse, the French news service, said Wednesday that it is taking legal action against Elon Musk’s X, alleging that the social media company, formerly known as Twitter, is refusing to negotiate payment terms for the agency’s news content.
In 2019, France adopted sweeping European Union copyright rules that force social media companies to pay publishers for certain types of content. Google has agreed to pay French publishers for news content after months of negotiations.
“These rights were established to enable news agencies and publishers to be remunerated by digital platforms which retain most of the monetary value generated by the distribution of news content,” the agency said in its statement.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Musk called the lawsuit “bizarre.”
“They want us to pay *them* for traffic to their site where they make advertising revenue and we don’t!?” he wrote on the platform, which he purchased in October.
Over the past two decades, the growth of Google, Facebook and other internet platforms have eaten away at the advertising revenue news outlets have traditionally relied on. In an effort to bolster the struggling news industry, policymakers around the world have sought to require social media to pay for the news posted on their websites. But companies’ responses to those proposals have been mixed.
In June, Meta said it would block Canadians from sharing news on Facebook and Instagram in response to a new Canadian law that requires social media companies to pay domestic publishers for content.
In May, Meta threatened to block California users from sharing news on its platforms, as state legislators there have been weighing legislation requiring social media companies to pay news outlets for their content.
Australia passed a similar law in 2021, requiring the companies to strike deals with Australian news outlets for the content posted to their platforms. Google did so soon after the law was passed, but Facebook initially blocked news there before reaching an agreement with the country’s publishing companies.
Twitter until now has managed to stay out of such high-profile clashes because it delivers less web traffic compared the Google and Facebook, and is thus a smaller player in the digital advertising ecosystem, said Max Willens, a senior analyst with Insider Intelligence.
Still, he said that, as he understands the law in France, “Twitter should be negotiating in good faith.”