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Australia Passes Law to Make Google, Facebook Pay for News

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Parliament on Thursday passed the final amendments to the so-called news media bargaining code that was agreed on Tuesday between Treasurer Josh Friedenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Australia’s law forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news is set to go into effect, although the architect of the laws said it would take time for digital giants to strike media deals.

The parliament on Thursday passed the final amendments to the so-called news media bargaining code that was agreed on Tuesday between Treasurer Josh Friedenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In exchange for the changes, Facebook agreed to lift the ban on reaching Australians and sharing news.

Rod Sims, who is the competition regulator, drafted the code, saying he was pleased that the amended law would address the market imbalance between Australian news publishers and the two entrances to the Internet. “All the signs are good,” Sims said.

 

“The purpose of the code is to clarify the market power that Google and Facebook clearly have. Google and Facebook need media, but they don’t need a particular media company, and that means media companies are commercial Cannot deal, ”added the chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

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The rest of the law was passed in Parliament earlier, so it can be implemented now. Google has in recent weeks made deals with major Australian news businesses including News Corp and Seven West Media.

Friedenberg said he was pleased to see progress by Google and more recently Facebook to reach commercial deals with Australian news businesses. But Country Press Australia, representing 161 regional newspapers across the country, has raised concerns that smaller publications may miss out on the big cities.

Sims said he was not surprised that the platforms would deal with big-city businesses first. “I see no reason that anyone doubts that all journalism will benefit,” Sims said.

“Things take time. Google and Facebook don’t have unlimited resources to talk to everyone. I think it’s got a long way to play,” he said. Chris Moussa, a lecturer at Oxford University’s business school, said the latest amendments are a “small victory” for Zuckerberg.

Moose said the legislation would result in smaller payments for most Australian news publishers. But if the talks break down, Facebook may again stop Australian news.

The legislation was designed to circumvent the external bargaining power of Facebook and Google in their interactions with Australian news providers. Digital giants will not be able to misuse their positions by making take-it-or-leave-it pay offers to news businesses for their journalism. Instead, in case of a deadlock, an arbitration panel will make a binding decision on a winning motion.

Friedenberg and Facebook confirmed that both sides agreed to amend the proposed legislation. The changes will give the digital platform one month’s notice before being formally named under the code.

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They will give more time to broker agreements before they are forced to enter into binding arbitration arrangements. Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg said on Wednesday that Australian legislation, without this week’s amendments, would enable media groups to “demand blank checks”.

“Thank you, after further discussion, the Australian Government has agreed to the change, encouraging fair negotiations without the threat of heavy-handed and unexpected arbitration,” a former British government deputy prime minister, Clegg, wrote in a Facebook post. is done.”

Facebook last week prevented Australians from sharing news, but also blocked access to epidemics, public health, and emergency services. The blockade was a backlash, with the House of Representatives passing the code last week in a form that Facebook considered “unworkable”.

Clegg said Facebook had “in favor of over-enforcement” and “inadvertently blocked some content.” Both Google and Facebook are following Australian media deals under their license model, Google News Display and Facebook News. But media officials argue that such deals would not be possible without the threat of an arbitration panel making the final decision.

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Friedenberg said his department would review the code within a year “to ensure that it is producing results that are consistent with the intent of the government’s policy.”

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