The European Commission is working on a plan to give news publishers greater rights over content appearing on search engines such as Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report Google, which is an Action Alerts PLUS holding.
Speaking to journalists in Brussels Friday, EC spokesman Christian Wigand said the proposal is due out in the second half of September, part of a broader effort to forge a so-called Digital Single Market in the 28-country European Union.
But Wigand downplayed media reports of plans to give European news publishers the right to charge Internet platforms for showing snippets of their articles.
In particular he said the aim is to recognize the role of publishers as investors in content "and give them a stronger position when negotiating with other market players. This is absolutely not about an EU levy on search engines."
He added that the overall objective "is to make sure that Europeans can access a wide and diverse legal offer of content, and therefore [to] strengthen cultural diversity, while ensuring that authors and other rights holders are better and more fairly protected."
At least one expert thinks the plan may not necessarily hurt big players like Google and its YouTube video-sharing site, but rather smaller players seeking to establish viable alternatives.
"These little guys are the ones that content owners will have no qualms about charging for access to their content," said Matthew Jones, a London-based partner with EIP Europe law firm, via e-mail.
"They are the ones that will not be able to afford to implement technology that will allow them to filter out content that is protected by copyright," he said. "As such, these smaller players may find themselves priced out of the market."
The proposal is being finalized just a few months after the EC unveiled new European and television film content quotas for video-streaming services such as Netflix (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Report , Appleundefined and Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report .
It also comes amid several ongoing EC antitrust probes into Google's market power in Europe. The latest charge, announced in July, accuses Google of abusing its dominant position by artificially restricting the ability of third-party websites to display search ads from Google's rivals.
In the other cases, officials have accused Google of systematically favoring its comparison shopping service in its shopping results and of imposing unfair restrictions on Android device makers and mobile network operators.
And in September the EC is due to reach a decision on Apple's tax break arrangement in Ireland, one of several competition probes into sweetheart tax deals benefiting companies doing business in Europe.
The EC has repeatedly denied that it is unfairly targeting U.S. companies in the taxation cases, and this week hit back against accusations of doing so made by the U.S. Treasury Department.