Google says Liberals’ compromise regulations won’t alter its plans to pull news in Canada

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OTTAWA — Draft regulations the Liberal government had been hoping would convince Google to reconsider a move to block news on its products in Canada won’t do the job, Google said Tuesday.

But the company isn’t expected to pull news from Google Search or its other products right away. A spokesperson said Google would “await the publication of final regulations” governing the implementation of the Online News Act.

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The 30-day comment period on the draft regulations has now ended. The government can make changes to what it proposed and incorporate the feedback it received in the final version of regulations.

Google has previously said it would pull Canadian news from Google Search and its other products in Canada over the legislation called Bill C-18.

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“Unfortunately, the proposed regulations fail to sufficiently address the critical structural problems with C-18 that regrettably were not dealt with during the legislative process,” a company spokesperson said.

“We continue to have serious concerns that the core issues ultimately may not be solvable through regulation and that legislative changes may be necessary.”

The legislation would force Google and Meta to share revenues with news publishers (Postmedia, publisher of the National Post, has publicly supported the legislation). If the companies pull links to news articles from their platforms, the Online News Act will no longer apply to them. The bill will come into effect by the end of the year.

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Meta, which is already blocking news in Canada on Facebook and Instagram, has maintained that its concerns with the legislation could not be addressed through regulations.

The draft regulations included a formula for calculating how much revenue the companies would be expected to share with Canadian news publishers. Government officials said when the regulations were unveiled that Google could contribute $172 million a year and Facebook $62 million.

The formula was an attempt to address what Google has identified as one of its key issues with the legislation — that it exposes the company to “uncapped financial liability.” But Google said in information provided on a background basis that the government has instead just provided a minimum of what it expects the platforms to spend.

Google has also been asking for more clarity on how the platforms can receive exemptions from the legislation by making their own deals. The company took issue Tuesday with the draft regulations giving publishers a veto over exemptions, among other concerns.

Google said it’s becoming clearer that changes to the legislation itself may be needed to avoid the company pulling news.

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