Australia requires digital platforms to pay for content
Australia requires digital platforms to pay for content

The Australian government passed the first in the world, forcing digital platforms such as Facebook and Google to negotiate with the media to pay for the content or initiate arbitration.

Liberal Party Vice President Josh Freidenberg, who led the new law, said, "This legislation is a source of equality and knowledge, and the Australian media is paying for the production of original content."

The Anti-Corruption Commission said the bill addressed a serious imbalance in bargaining power between Australian media and digital platforms.

The new law was met with fierce opposition from the two tech giants, as Facebook temporarily banned users and publishers from sharing news content via its main social network and only delayed after the Australian government approved a number of changes to the proposed law.

Google initially suggested that the company might have to pull its search engine out of the country when the law goes into effect, but then withdrew its plan.

Instead, Google signed a deal with media companies to pay for news content, including a significant three-year deal with News Corp.

The commercial law states that digital platforms must pay a trading fee in order to link to or use the current content. If a fee agreement cannot be entered into, this includes compulsory arbitration.

Tech companies are also being forced to notify news organizations of impending algorithm changes.

The digital platform had hoped to avoid arbitrage, a process in which an independent group decides the value of news content in news feeds and search results.

The law currently targets Facebook and Google specifically, but could extend to other platforms in the future where the negotiating capacity of Australian media organizations will be fundamentally imbalanced.

However, the change in the law means that the government can also consider commercial agreements between technology companies and media organizations before they are formally classified as legal platforms.

The ACCC said that after an 18-month investigation, the tech giants were found to have received a disproportionate amount of online advertising. This law is necessary and you believe it harms the interests of media organizations.

Whether or not other countries enact similar laws, Australian trade laws can have repercussions beyond their borders.

Transactions between Google and publishers such as News Corporation include postings from all over the world. According to the Financial Times, the value of these transactions has increased significantly due to the impact of Australian law.

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