The Australian government has passed world-first media law which forces Facebook and Google to pay for news links. This new law was passed on Wednesday by the Australian parliament.
The News Media Bargaining Code law requires Facebook and Google to pay Australian media organizations for media businesses’ news articles and other types of content used on their platforms in reforms that could be duplicated in other parts of the world.
However, Google and Facebook strongly opposed the introduction of the code. Google threatened to withdraw its search engine from the country, saying the law would set a “dangerous precedent“, before announcing it had signed several deals with news organizations including a three-year agreement with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The giant tech later struck a series of deals with publishers, including a global content arrangement with News Corp.
Facebook also blocked the sharing, posting, and viewing of news links for its 13m monthly Australian users last week. This led to a lack of access to numerous charity, state, and emergency service pages. However, Facebook later restored news access to its platform after the Australian government conceded to making four key amendments to the code.
Under the new law, called the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, both giant techs are required to negotiate licensing agreements with publishers for the news articles that appear on Google search and Facebook’s feed.
Australian Treasurer; Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister; Paul Fletcher said the code would ensure news businesses were “fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism”.
“Importantly, the code encourages parties to undertake commercial negotiations outside the Code and the Government is pleased to see progress by both Google and more recently Facebook in reaching commercial arrangements with Australian news media businesses.”
The new law will be reviewed after a year to “ensure it is delivering outcomes that are consistent with the government’s policy intent,” the pair added.
With the new law, Australia has become the first country where a government negotiator will decide the price to be paid by Google and Facebook.