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Australia passed a new media law that requires Google, Facebook to pay for news

Australia passed a new media law that requires Google to pay for news

February 26, 2021: Australia passes a new law requiring digital platforms like Facebook and Google to pay local media outlets and publishers to link their content on the news feeds or search results.

The move was widely expected and came days after the government introduced some last-minute amendments to the proposed bill, known officially as the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

“The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.

The Treasury will review the law within one year of its commencement, the officials said

Both Facebook and Google have fought against the law since last year.

Australia will essentially become the first country where a government-appointed arbitrator can decide on the final price that either platform will have to pay Australian news publishers, provided a commercial deal cannot be reached independently.

According to experts, the decision will come by a ruling in favor of the party, digital platform, or the publisher, with no room for a middle-ground agreement

.

In this week’s amendments, the government said that the parties involved would get a two-month mediation period to broker deals before they are made to enter arbitration as a last resort.

Facebook announced Monday it would restore news pages in Australia, reversing an earlier decision to block access to news content in Australia in retaliation against the proposed bill.

Facebook’s vice president for global news partnerships, Campbell Brown, said Tuesday the Australian government clarified that the tech company would retain the ability to decide if news appears on its platform so that it won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation.

Google initially threatened to pull its search function from Australia. However, it struck several prominent commercial agreements with Australian publishers in recent weeks, including the Murdoch family-owned media conglomerate NewsCorp.

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