Correcting JCPA Myths with Facts


Myth: Increased access to journalism has been bad for Americans.

Fact: Thanks to the internet and news aggregators, consumers have more access to journalism and information than ever before. They no longer have to rely exclusively on the paper that arrives at their doorstep but can seek out different viewpoints and find more information. By providing consumers with to links and snippets of news, online services help consumers to find out which news article they want to look at. And by sending consumers to news sites, news publishers gain revenues through ads or subscriptions.


Myth: The JCPA doesn’t have to do with copyright.

Fact: Forcing online services to pay for links and snippets undermines copyright law. Links and snippets are not copyrightable. Even if some content is copyrightable, the use of links and snippets of this content is generally considered fair use. Attempts to change how copyright law and links work would fundamentally change the open internet and the ecosystem that depends on it.


Myth: This bill will support journalists.

Fact: By capping the number of employees to qualify for a payout, the legislation disincentivizes hiring new journalists. Outlets that are close to the maximum 1,500 full-time employees will not hire more staff, while some outlets may layoff journalists to qualify. The legislation says publishers are supposed to put the money toward journalism jobs and maintain transparency; however, there are no accountability mechanisms to ensure investment in local journalism.


Myth: The bill will boost local news. 

Fact: Extremely broad definitions of “eligible publisher” mean that any publication – regardless of quality or issue – will qualify for tech payouts: celebrity gossip, extremist partisan politics, sports, fashion, home décor and food. There is no requirement that publications provide high-quality journalism to local communities. Furthermore, many local news outlets have been acquired by large hedge funds and global corporate entities that have slashed journalist jobs, budgets and circulation frequency. Nothing in the JCPA holds these hedge funds accountable for the payouts they would receive.


Myth: The JCPA will encourage a free press and healthy democracy with increased access to information and different viewpoints.

Fact: Any individual with a non-profit and claims of an editorial process can qualify as an “eligible publisher.” This means false or extremist websites will not only receive financial payouts but also be required by law to be carried online, without exception. Because of the threat of litigation, tech platforms may be unable to remove online misinformation on blogs or publications funded by partisans, extremists, foreign backers or conspiracy theorists. To make matters worse,  with tech bailout money now on the table, the JCPA could incentivize the creation of even more misinformation.


Myth: There is widespread support for this legislation.

Fact: JCPA supporters are limited to the publishers, publishing trade associations and other stakeholders who make money from the news industry. Meanwhile, supporters are manipulating poll numbers to make exaggerated claims about support for the legislation. Polling actually found that 75% of those surveyed were not familiar or had never heard of the legislation.