Australia to force Google, Facebook to pay for news content

Australia plans to force Google and Facebook to pay when they recycle local media content. Canberra says its lever will be fair competition rules rather than Europe’s focus on copyright usage.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg switched tack Monday in his long campaign to force digital giants to pay: He declared there had been ‘no meaningful progress’ at voluntary talks and draft rules would be worked out by late July.

“These are big companies that we are dealing with, but there is so much at stake, so we’re prepared for this fight,” said Frydenberg, referring to Australian media outlets at the time of an advertising slump exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Canberra would take a different approach compared to Europe, by requiring shared earnings via a mandatory competition law rather than chasing copyright fees for items reused online.

Facebook and Google’s parent Alphabet said they had been working “hard” and “constructively” to negotiate voluntary shares of content earnings since last year.

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