News content licensing

The issue

In an era of deep fakes and misinformation, credible, reliable news content has never been more important to democracy and society, yet many journalists are struggling to establish and sustain their careers.


In recent years fundamental changes to the way that news content is accessed, distributed and consumed online, through ‘secondary-uses’ such as news scraping and generative AI training, has seen a significant transfer of value away from publishers to platforms and other tech companies.


The consequent squeeze on publishers’ funds has seen mass UK redundancies with 2,681 journalism jobs lost in 2023, up 48% from 2022. This increases an already significant reliance on freelance journalists who, according to research from the Centre for Regulation of the Creative Economy (CREATe), earn on average less than the national living wage with the vast majority receiving nothing for secondary-use online. This pay deficit makes sustaining a career difficult for many, particularly those from underrepresented communities.

What can be done

Collaboration between tech companies and news publishers and journalists is possible, and it is already taking shape, via different models, worldwide. As technology evolves, ALCS is working with partners to develop collective agreements to reset the current imbalance and ensure that UK freelance journalists receive a fair share of the revenues generated by the use of their works online.


These initiatives are currently modelled around voluntary agreements, however, legislative back-stops are needed to ensure fair and timely outcomes. The Government is already establishing a Digital Markets Unit with powers to intervene in this area and further measures may be required to specifically protect the rights of freelance journalists, whose work is central to the future of the UK’s news content industries.