France’s AFP sues Twitter over non-payments for displaying information

A bad week for Elon Musk just got even worse. After enduring a scandal over Tesla’s driving ranges, a risible rebrand of Twitter, and a divisive feud with hate-speech researchers, Musk discovered yet another powerful enemy: Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The French news agency announced on Wednesday that it’s suing X — Musk’s new name for Twitter — over alleged non-payments for displaying AFP content.

The case stems from EU copyright reforms that became French law in 2019. Under the legislation, online platforms must remunerate publishers for distributing their content.

The rules have proven controversial. Media outlets argue that their news provides engagement and ad revenue without sufficient compensation. But the platforms note that they’re already driving traffic to the publishers.

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Unsurprisingly, AFP is a staunch advocate for the requirements. The agency — the world’s oldest news service — claims X has refused to even discuss payments for content distributions. 

The newswire announced on Wednesday that it’s filed a lawsuit in Paris over the dispute. According to AFP, the lawsuit aims to determine how much money is owed. 

“This move is aimed at compelling Twitter, in accordance with the law, to provide all the necessary elements required for assessing the remuneration owed to AFP under the neighbouring rights legislation,”  the company said in a statement.

Inevitability, Musk denounced the accusations in a tweet.

“This is bizarre,” he said. “They want us to pay *them* for traffic to their site where they make advertising revenue and we don’t!?”

This is bizarre. They want us to pay *them* for traffic to their site where they make advertising revenue and we don’t!?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 3, 2023

Despite Musk’s criticisms, AFP has pledged to continue using legal means to get compensation for content.

Whatever the outcome, it’s created another headache for the world’s richest man.

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