New Australian Law Forces Google and Facebook to Pay for News

Photo: Google
Photo: Google

The step taken by the Australian Government is expected to generate new public interest in quality journalism.

By Rakesh Raman

A new Australian law – passed today (February 25) – will force online tech players such as Google and Facebook to pay original news publishers for articles shared on their platforms. Both these companies republish the content lifted from third-party news sites, but do not fully compensate the content creators.

Called news media bargaining code, the law introduced by the Australian Government through the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has specified a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook.

The Australian legislation has triggered the introduction of similar legal actions in other parts of the world where the governments are asking the tech players to pay local publishers.

The law aims to ensure fairer revenue-sharing deals with local media companies, which spend huge money on content creation activity but do not get sufficient returns from Google and Facebook which use the licensed content.

The step taken by the Australian Government is also expected to generate new public interest in quality journalism for content aggregators enjoy credibility because of content republished on their sites from credible news sources.

Both Google and Facebook resisted the law initially, but it is learnt that these companies have planned to renegotiate deals with news outfits. Google had threatened to shutter its business in Australia but later decided to continue.

Similarly, Facebook followed through on a threat to remove Australian news from its platform if the original code was passed. However, it is reported that the social media company has decided to bring the Australian news back on Facebook.

The law – first of its kind in the world – passed without any fuss after the Australian government agreed to dilute some of the provisions which were particularly opposed by the online companies, with the condition that they will sign paid deals with local media companies.

Meanwhile, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) – an association of India’s leading newspapers – has asked Google to compensate its publishing members for carrying their content online and share 85 per cent of the ad revenues with them.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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