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Australia passes controversial media law that will make Google and Facebook pay for news

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Google "G" logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • The Australian government passed its new law that will require Facebook and Google to pay for news content.
  • Google and Facebook spoke out against the law, but it passed following a series of amendments.
  • Microsoft has pushed for the law to be passed and emulated in other countries.

Australia passed a law that will require Facebook and Google to pay for local news content (via the BBC). The law saw backpack and debate from Facebook and Google but has been praised by Microsoft. The law, called the News Media Bargaining Code, passed Australia's House of Representatives on Thursday after already having gone through Australia's Senate.

The law requires Google and Facebook to negotiate a fee with publishers to use news content or, if an agreement cannot be made, go through an arbitration process. The law specifically targets Facebook and Google at the moment, but that could change in the future.

The law also requires tech giants to give news publishers notice of changes to algorithms, which determine which stories are displayed.

The goal of the law is to combat the power imbalance between news organizations and tech giants. If another tech giant creates an imbalance, it's feasible that legislation could be made to affect them as well.

In contrast to Facebook and Google's pushback against the law, Microsoft has been all for it. In fact, Microsoft President Brad Smith pushed for other countries to adopt similar laws. Microsoft also joined Europe's press publishers in calling for a similar setup in Europe.

While Microsoft is not directly affected by the legislation at this time, its leaders say that the company would "be willing to live by these rules if the government designates."

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

7 Comments
  • Kind of feel sorry for Australians now.
    I'm sure the law makers are trying their best, and on the back of it, it's going to be good for the media outlets to get paid (by the social media) for linked content.
    However, companies are greedy. All of them, it's how business works to make money.
    These news outlets are going to be pushing their content hard to Facebook and google by what ever means they can just to get the pay out. Of course to do that they're going to have to target the people using the services so they share and use the articles. **** storm of click bait and other nefarious means of capital gain from Facebook and Google's users?
  • This somehow makes sense, is like a double edge knife if we think about it. Is ok for Google to use the news stream and not pay the source? Do the source news need Google and Facebook so their content can be seen? It is interesting what kind of approach they will take after this.
  • That's what I'm thinking, too. Google will have to recoup the cost for this somehow, and I feel it may not be to the benefit of consumers.
  • Nothing Google does is to the benefit of consumers anyway.
  • Is it OK for Google to use the source without payment? If the news was accessible to anyone directly without payment to the source, yes.. and no. The question is not really about news. Does a search engine have the right to tag any website without consent by that website owner? For me no.
  • this makes no sense, why don't the content owners/creators put up their own pay walls instead?
  • They do, and that's what makes it ********, News Corp are double dipping.