Australian lawmakers have enacted new legislation that will mandate Facebook and Google among other tech giants to pay publishers for news stories originating in the country. Although Facebook and Google initially kicked against the regulation, they consented to it after the lawmakers modified the legislation to suit some aspects of their demands.
The regulation serves to ensure that tech organizations remunerate news publishers for the content they generate with a view to developing the information industry in Australia. The country’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said tech organizations will be held to a higher demand of responsibility with the new legislation and that news creators in Australia would be able to benefit more from their labors.
“The code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” Frydenberg stated.
Since this situation had been long in coming, Facebook initiated a blackout in Australia, and people in the country were not able to use the social media platform for almost a week after the law was first passed. Google also attempted to shut down its search functions in the country but later reconsidered and entered into a payment agreement with a few news publishers such as Seven West Media and News Corp. This move reduced the impacts of the legislation on the search engine company.
Facebook also restored its functions to the country after legislators modified the disagreeable regulation to state that both Facebook and Google would not be affected by the legislation if the tech companies would make notable “contributions to the sustainability of the Australian news industry”. This development will enable the tech organizations to enter into payment and service agreements and to resort to arbitration with a third-party if the publishers and the companies cannot agree on appropriate payments for news services.
“The Australian government has agreed to changes that mean fair negotiations are encouraged without the looming threat of heavy-handed and unpredictable arbitration,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and former UK deputy prime minister said. He noted that Facebook had “been in discussions with the Australian government for three years trying to explain why this proposed law, unamended, was unworkable.”
Since Facebook and Google have agreed to enter into payment agreements with Australian news publishers, other countries may pass legislation that will force the tech giants to also pay publishers as well. The EU, the US, and Canada among other countries have revealed that they will be passing similar regulations in the next few months.