Australia passes law to make Google, Facebook pay for news

Henrietta Brewer
February 26, 2021

Under the original proposals, Facebook and Google would have been required to individually negotiate content prices with publishers within three months, or be forced into an arbitration process where a government-appointed panel would pick between the publisher and tech giants' proposals.

This week Facebook allowed Australia to once again share local and global news, after the Australian government agreed to change parts of of its controversial "media bargaining law", with four amendments to the legislation.

Australia's new regulation is similar to legislation being considered in other jurisdictions like France, where Google has agreed to pay news publishers, and we can expect to see more of this in the future.

The amendments mean the code now includes a two-month mediation period to allow digital platforms like Facebook and publishers to agree on deals before they are forced to enter into arbitration.

News content returned to Facebook in Australia on Friday morning, a week after the platform banned it from being shared on the platform.

"Obviously that was a major engineering feat for them to wipe the Facebook platform of Australian news media content". Google says it now has deals with more than 50 Australian titles and more than 500 publishers worldwide. We're restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days. It also lets Facebook and other tech giants strike their own deals with local companies.

Camille Gagné-Raynauld, a spokesperson for Mr. Guilbeault, said in an e-mail that the federal government commends Australia and Facebook "for their commitment towards finding a lasting solution". Microsoft is working with European publishers to push big tech platforms to pay for news.

Alphabet Inc. -owned Google previous year said it would shut down its search engine in Australia if the law was enacted.

"We're pleased that we've been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we've had with Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister Fletcher over the past week", wrote Facebook's Antipodean boss William Easton.

It paves the way for Google and Facebook to plough tens of millions of dollars into struggling local media companies, and could provide a model for resolving tussles with regulators worldwide.

Facebook has lifted its ban on Australian news sites after an eight-day blackout in a sensational standoff with the Morrison government.

Australia and Facebook have been having a tough time on some issues regarding Facebook's operation in Australia. Also pleasing to hear it's already struck deals tonight with some Australian media to pay for news content. "If this was so easy other countries would have done it long ago".

"Our commitment to legislating the Code reflects the importance of a diverse and well-resourced news media sector to our democracy and the Australian people", the pair said.

Facebook's head of public policy for Canada told The Globe and Mail that while the details and timing are still being worked out, the company is open to paying Canadian publishers for news that appears on its site.

A European publishers' lobbying group that is among those teaming up with Microsoft said the deal shows such legislation is possible - and not just in Australia.

Other reports by iNewsToday