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Australian government could force Google, Facebook to pay for local news content

The Australian government is set to force Google and Facebook to pay for local news content in the region.

This decision has been taken after Australia conducted its own Digital Platforms Inquiry, which concluded that Google and Facebook have essentially diluted and distorted the ability for local news and media outlets to monetize their content.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed in a statement that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (or ACCC) would release a draft in July with rules for the tech duo to enable fair compensation for any content that was taken or reappropriated from local news and media organizations.

You may remember that similar bills have been drafted by countries aiming to seek compensation for content used on platforms such as Google News and Facebook news portals. It poses problems as to what constitutes the fair usage of information and what part Google and Facebook are playing in both the distribution and re-packaging of journalistic work.

“What we want to see is a level playing field,” Frydenberg told Sky News Australia. “What we want to see here is a fair-go for the companies and for the journalistic content that is prepared. Australia has seen, just like the rest of the world, the rise of these social media giants.”

“That has brought into question the adequacy of our regulatory frameworks and the viability of traditional media outlets. We asked the ACCC to engage in discussions with the stakeholders to reach a voluntary code of conduct.

That hasn’t made meaningful progress so now we are taking the decisive decision to create a mandatory code seeking to the first country in the world to ensure these social media giants pay for content.”

According to The Guardian, the mandatory code is set to retain the same base elements as the initially proposed voluntary code. It would, however, include penalties and legally binding dispute resolution mechanisms for negotiations between Google, Facebook, and news outlets.

This mandatory code is also set to define what news content will be covered by the code, and will even include services beyond Google News, Google Search and Facebook, such as Instagram and, potentially, Twitter. No mention of what metrics will be used by Google and Facebook to pay local news outlets for content was mentioned.

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Avatar for Damien Wilde Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter @iamdamienwilde. Email

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