Europe adopts tough stance on online copyright
The European Parliament has voted in favour of the European Union’s first update of copyright rules in nearly two decades.
Tech platforms now face tough copyright rules in Europe which require technology platforms to sign licencing agreements with musicians, authors and news publishers, in order to post their work online.
The EU Parliament passed the measures by a vote of 348 to 274 and individual EU counties will have 2 years to adopt the regulation into law
The copyright directive has divided EU governments and MEPs and anti-copyright objections, led by internet freedom campaigners, were particularly notable in Germany over the last few months.
The final legislative text included a controversial “Article 13” which will make sites such as YouTube, legally responsible for the user-generated material they host in the EU.
The ruling also requires all platforms to take out licences with right-holders before their material is broadcast.
The new rules are designed to force tech firms to proactively police and remove unlicensed copyrighted material from their platforms, rather than reactively waiting for complaints to roll-in before acting.
For platforms such as Google News, which aggregates news data from other news sites, the rules may now require Google to obtain new licences from the publishers. When Spain passed a similar intellectual property rule in 2015, Google pulled the plugged on its Spanish news feed services.
Google’s anti-trust woes linger in Europe
Google is facing lawsuits seeking more than GBP 1.5bn in damages, from at least 3 European competitors, in the wake of the EU’s recent series of anti-trust decisions.
Having already been served a fine of €2.4 bn in 2017 by the European Union over market dominance of its search product, German comparison site Idealo says it will sue Google in Germany for damages of around €500m for abusing its position to promote its own shopping service.
Idealo’s lawsuit follows similar claims filed by UK based price comparison websites Foundem and Kelkoo, which sued Google in 2012 and 2015 respectively but both cases where put on-hold, pending the EU Commission’s decision and Google’s appeal.
Meanwhile, Google has adopted a proactive stance with Android users in Europe whereby it has now providing Android users with the option to download an alternative browser to its own Chrome browser and search engine, in what is been interpreted as a bid to fend-off further antitrust sanctions from Europe’s competition regulator.
Last year, the EU Commission fined Google €4.3 billion for antitrust behaviour for pressuring device makers to pre-install its Google search and Chrome browser. Google was ordered to change behaviour and threatened with additional fines if it failed to comply.
France: Social Media Tax
Facebook consents to higher tax payments
Facebook says it will pay more tax in France following the French government’s new levy on the revenue of digital companies.
Last year, Facebook said that all of its sales revenue in France would be declared in-country and that it would “naturally” pay the new revenue tax also.
US Tech Firms in European Expansion
London chosen for WhatsApp payments development
WhatsApp parent, Facebook has chosen London as its hub for its push into payment features on its WhatsApp messaging service.
It will expand its workforce by a quarter by hiring 100 employees, mostly software engineers in London with additional operations staff in Ireland.
WhatsApp, which is more ‘early majority’ and mainstream in the UK than in the US, says it chose the UK because it attracts a multicultural workforce from many of the countries, such as India, where the app is widely used.
The new team will build a payments function as well as products that focus on safety and spam on the app.
Facebook recently announced that WhatsApp’s mobile payments would launch in several countries this year, following an initial test in India.
Despite being one of the most used apps in the world and being particularly popular in India, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico, the company only has around 400 employees.
Luxury ride-hailing firm establishes HQ in London
Luxury ride hailing app, Wheely, which aims to compete with Uber’s higher-end UberLux offering, has relocated its headquarters to London.
The decision by the Russian based company to move to London, is aimed at helping it attract senior leadership talent ahead of its planned European expansion.
The company currently operates a fleet of Mercedes S class vehicles in London, Moscow and St. Petersburg and has about 3,000 registered drivers across its network.
Wheeley was founded 9 years ago and recently closed a USD 15 million investment round, led by venture capital Concentric.
The company currently has 12 UK based employees based in London.
Rent the Runway sets-up hub in Ireland
New York fashion-tech company, Rent the Runway has announced plans to establish a hub in Ireland.
Founded in 2009 by Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, the company formally established an Irish subsidiary in January this year and now says it intends to hire up to 150 engineers and developers over the next 3 years, to coincide with the establishment of what will be its first operation outside of the United States.
LiDAR Cepton opens at base
Silicon Valley based Cepton Technologies, Inc., a provider of 3D Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) solutions for automotive, IoT, industrial, security and mapping applications, is expanding its European presence with a new office at the iHub innovation and technology park in Derby, UK.
Founded in Silicon Valley in 2016, Cepton today has a global customer base with growing demand for its high performance, long range and cost-efficient LiDAR technology, in the EMEIA region.
Stripe purchases Irish payment start-up
Stripe, the U.S based payments firm founded by Irish brothers, Patrick and John Collison has acquired Dublin (Ireland) based fintech firm Touchtech.
Touchtech, founded by Shekinah Adewumi and Joseph Kuye, makes it easier and more secure to authenticate payments on smartphones.
The current Touchtech team will join Stripe’s Dublin officer in its engineering, sales and marketing divisions.
Stipe currently employs over 150 in Dublin but has recently announced plans to rapidly increase its headcount after receiving an e-banking licence in Ireland.
Stripe, which already has an e-banking licence in the United Kingdom, set up an international engineering hub, the first outside of the United States in Dublin last year.
The new licence allows Stripe to continue to process payments for users across Europe regardless of the direction which Brexit will take.
Stripe is one of a small number of e-money institutions licenced by the Irish Central Bank. Others include London-based fintech Soldo, PerfectCard and Facebook which received its e-money licence in 2016.
Just Eat acquires Practi PoS Software
Takeaway delivery company, Just Eat is to acquire Practi, a software company which supplies table-based, point-of-sale and restaurant management systems to small restaurant outlets and chains.
Just Eat will pay GBP 6.7 million, with further earnout payments that could potentially double that figure.
The acquisition follows the purchase of Flyt, which connects Just Eat’s platform to restaurant chains’s existing point-of-sales systems in January.
The company says its latest strategic acquisition will further strengthen Just Eat’s partnership with the thousands of restaurant partners on its platform and will provide its restaurant partners with PoS, cash and card payment handling, inventory management, kitchen operation and employee management systems, all within a single software package across multiple devices.