The Australian Parliament approved a final version of the legislation to force Google and Facebook to pay to link news articles. The adoption of the media bargaining code marks the end of a controversial months-long negotiation between the Australian government and the two tech giants, which are mentioned in the code.
Google and Facebook have long argued that they shouldn't have to pay a penny to link to news articles because links send valuable traffic to news sites.
Over the past decade, Google has been successful in rolling back efforts to undermine the principle of free links.
But in recent years, Australia and Europe have become more determined to force American tech giants to financially support their national information industries.
The initial version of the Australian law was even more aggressive, as It would not only force tech giants to negotiate with news sites, but also proposed an arbitration process in which each party (an Australian publisher and a tech giant, respectively) would submit a proposal and then an independent arbitrator would decide which proposal. it was more "reasonable."
In January, Google threatened to shut down its Australian search engine if the law came into force. Last week, Facebook went even further by preventing users from sharing Australian news articles.
While Microsoft for its part has seized the opportunity to undermine its rivals, strongly backing the Australian approach and supporting the concept of payments for news content.
After days of intense negotiations, Facebook and Australia reached an agreement to save face.
Facebook has agreed to reactivate article sharing press in exchange for the Australian government allowing Facebook to opt out of the forced arbitration process if he could convince the government that he had already "made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry by entering into trade agreements with media companies."
Google and Facebook reached agreements with Australian media companies in an attempt to show that no more coercive action was needed.
The revised law gives tech companies a longer period than normal to enter into voluntary agreements before being forced to enter arbitration.
“Although news publishers have a related right, they may not have the financial strength to negotiate fair and balanced deals with these controlling technology companies, who might otherwise threaten to withdraw from negotiations or abandon altogether. markets, "they said in a statement
While these changes were tactical gains for Facebook and Google over Australia's original tough proposal, it is clear that the tech giants have abandoned their previous position that they shouldn't have to pay at all. At this point, it seems unlikely that Google will be able to resist similar proposals in EU member states, though they may get some watered-down deals around the edges.
Finally, It is worth mentioning that Canada and other countries are considering similar legislation, while Facebook and Google are rushing to defeat these laws by entering into voluntary agreements with news agencies around the world.
And it is that in Europe, the copyright reform of 2019 notably established a "related right" for the benefit of publishers and press agencies. This measure is supposed to help them charge for the uptake of their content by online platforms and other aggregators, thus offsetting the collapse of their traditional ad revenue to the benefit of Internet giants such as Facebook and Google.
In addition, the Member States of the Union still have until June 2021 to adopt the relevant laws regarding this reform in their own country.