Media code governing Facebook and Google in Australia becomes law


"It's fair to say Google and Facebook didn't want this code to come into existence, but today it has and as a result, Australian news media businesses will get paid for content and journalism will be sustained in this country", he said.

That stance led to amendments to the laws, including giving the government the power to exempt Facebook or Google from mandatory arbitration, and Facebook on Friday began restoring the Australian news sites.

The deals were signed with Private Media, which owns online magazines, Schwartz Media, which owns The Monthly, The Saturday Paper and Quarterly Essay, and Solstice Media.

Campbell Brown, Facebook's vice president for global news partnerships, said that the government had clarified that the tech company will retain the ability to decide if news appears on its platform so that it won't automatically be subject to a forced negotiation. It also lets Facebook and other tech giants strike their own deals with local companies.

Australia on Thursday passed a law that tackles numerous same issues, terms of which recently prompted Facebook to remove news from its platform in the country for five days before reversing course after winning some changes from the government.

Why did Facebook object to the planned law?

In a blog post on Wednesday, Facebook's head of global affairs Nick Clegg said that to comply with the law as originally proposed would be unworkable and unfair.

As an alternative, Clegg wrote that Facebook has chose to partner with news publishers to recognise quality journalism.

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While the threat of legislation has forced the tech giants to the table, the concessions mean Facebook can essentially follow a template it's already used in the US and United Kingdom, and pay Australian publishers to populate its News tab.

In a letter to the Financial Times, Lord Rothermere, chairman of Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), said "politicians should be very worried" about the incident and accused the two tech firms of having "plundered" news content for many years.

"We neither take nor ask for the content for which we were being asked to pay a potentially exorbitant price", he said. He also said Facebook will spend $1 billion on news content over the next three years.

He said the firm was already working with publishers in the United Kingdom to pay for content in its Facebook News product, which personalizes news for its readers' individual tastes. Mr. Voss said Europe's new law allows news-content producers to unite in negotiating licensing revenues for their content - and could even do so across borders within the EU.

A source familiar with Facebook's plans told Reuters that the situation in Canada is different to Australia.

Australia's legislation in some ways goes beyond that in Europe, by compelling tech companies and news publishers to submit to binding arbitration if they can't agree on payment terms. It keeps people on their platform longer. Google was keen to avoid creating a precedent that platforms should pay anyone for links, something they could make their flagship search engine unworkable.

How significant is the law globally?

"Maybe other countries might consider that rather than looking through competition law, which is what Australia's done".