Australia wants to force Facebook and Google to pay media companies for news

Australia wants to force Facebook and Google to pay media companies for news

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Australia is moving to impose sweeping new rules that would require Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) to pay media organizations for the use of their news content.

Regulators on Friday released draft legislation that would let news publishers in the country negotiate compensation with the two tech companies for sharing or displaying their stories.

It would allow certain media outlets to bargain either individually or collectively with Facebook and Google — and to enter arbitration if the parties can’t reach an agreement within three months, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which put out the proposed legislation. That process would involve an independent arbitrator looking at offers from both sides and settling the matter within 45 business days.

The legislation will next undergo a public consultation phase, after which it will be finalized and put forward to Australian parliament, where lawmakers will vote on whether to pass it.

“There is a fundamental bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and the major digital platforms, partly because news businesses have no option but to deal with the platforms, and have had little ability to negotiate over payment for their content or other issues,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

The outcome of the proposal is likely to be closely watched across the globe. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg acknowledged the international significance at a press conference Friday, calling the drafting a landmark move that would “draw the attention of many regulatory agencies and many governments right around the world.

“Frydenberg claimed Australia’s move is “in front of the world,” though other countries have passed legislation to try and force internet giants to pay publishers — albeit with limited effect.

For now, Google and Facebook are the only tech companies that would be subject to the new regulation. But other platforms may be added in the future, according to the ACCC.