X Corp Is Being Sued by World’s Oldest News Agency, AFP

Agence France-Presse wants X to pay up for displaying its news content, following Canada's recent copyright crackdown.

Agence France-Press (AFP) has filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk’s social media company X Corp — formerly known as Twitter — for failing to engage in discussions about paying for the distribution of their content.

AFP, which is widely regarded as the oldest news agency in the world, based the case on a 2019 EU copyright reform that requires online platforms to remunerate publishers for displaying their news.

Musk was quick to dismiss the action as “bizarre” in a Tweet, but with the controversial CEO already drowning in legal cases from former employees, landlords, and even social media rival Mark Zuckerburg, his failure to take the case seriously is hardly surprising.

AFP Is Sueing X Corp Over News Payments

France’s leading news agency, Agence France-Presse AFP, has sued Musk-owned social media platform X Corp for failing to pay out for displaying their stories.

The case hinges on an EU copyright reform that was written into French law in 2019. The rule, known as “neighboring rights” urges large online platforms, like X and Meta, to compensate publishers for distributing their original content.

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“Agence France-Presse has expressed its concerns over the clear refusal from Twitter (recently rebranded as ‘X’) to enter into discussions regarding the implementation of neighbouring rights for the press” – Recent statement from AFP

AFP argues that its content drives up engagement and ad revenue on X’s platform and claims the social media company has shown a “clear refusal” to engage in debate around the topic. But this isn’t the first time France has taken aim at the US’s biggest tech firms.

Alphabet’s Google has begun compensating AFP and other French news organizations in 2019 after being slapped with a $593 million fine for failing to comply with the EU’s neighboring rights law. Following this, Meta’s Facebook agreed to pay French publishers for resharing its content in 2021.

So, with the EU’s neighboring rights bill having real implications for some of Silicon Valley’s biggest players, is Musk taking AFP’s case seriously?

Short answer, no.

Elon Musk Dismisses Case as “Bizarre”

In typical keyboard warrior fashion, Musk was quick to shake off AFP’s claims.

“This is bizarre. They want us to pay ‘them’ for traffic to their site where they make advertising revenue and we don’t!?” Musk Tweeted in response to X News Daily.

Musk’s retort reflects commonly held beliefs among big tech that platforms like X actually benefit news publications by driving traffic to their sites — a view that is strongly refuted by the agencies.

How Long Can Musk Refuse to Pay Out?

Unfortunately for Musk, his copyright qualms don’t end with AFP.

Just days before the French agency sued X Corp, Canada passed a new law requiring tech companies to share revenue with news sites displayed on their platforms.

Instead of complying, Meta and Google have already decided to remove news from their platforms in Canada — a move that the minister for Canadian Heritage has criticized for being “irresponsible” and detrimental to the nation’s democracy.

Musk is yet to make an official stand against the AFP or any Canadian publishers, but with the megalomaniac CEO already landing himself in hot water for banning journalists from the platform and falsely labeling media publications as “state-affiliated media,” our money isn’t on him complying.

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Written by:
Isobel O'Sullivan (BSc) is a senior writer at Tech.co with over four years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.
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