Facebook and Google will be forced to pay for news content in Australia

Australian government will require tech giants to pay for content they're benefiting from

Facebook and Google will soon be required by Australia’s Federal Government to cough up for news on their sites, in a move that seeks to have Australian media organizations paid for the content they generate.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been instructed by the Australian government to create a mandatory code of conduct to instruct tech giants on how to share the revenue they generate from using content produced by news outlets, which Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said seeks to “level the playing field”.

According to ABC News Australia, the code will address how the digital giants are to share advertising revenue earned from news, how original sources of news content are to be favored on search page results and the sharing of data with news organisations.

Following an inquiry into the impact of digital platforms on the Australian media landscape, the ACCC was originally requested to develop a voluntary code of conduct back in December 2019, which aimed to have Facebook and Google negotiate with the Australian news media on how to pay for the content they were benefiting from.

Initial negotiations proved unsuccessful, and the ACCC advised the Federal Government that an agreement was “unlikely”. Now, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to debilitate the advertising revenue of Australian news outlets, the government has pushed forward by requesting the code now be mandatory, with a proposal due by the end of July.

The new code will include penalties and obligations for how to resolve disputes between Australian media companies and the tech giants. It will also encompass sites other than Facebook and Google, including Instagram and Twitter, which also benefit from content created by news sites.

A similar code of conduct was requested by the competition authority in France earlier this month, which asked Google to work with news organisations and pay to display extracts on its news and search result pages.

Frydenberg added that “It’s only fair that those that generate content get paid for it”.

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