Australia passes law aimed at making Google and Facebook pay for news content on their platforms

The legislation had been fiercely opposed by the US tech giants, with Facebook blocking all news content to Australians over the row.

Australia has passed a world-first law aimed at making Google and Facebook pay for news content on their platforms. The legislation had been fiercely opposed by the US tech giants, with Facebook blocking all news content to Australians over the row.

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Facebook agreed to reverse its decision after robust negotiations with the government, which led to changes to the law to address some of their concerns. The law is seen as a test case for similar regulation around the world.

The amended legislation – the News Media Bargaining Code – was passed by Australia’s House of Representatives yesterday after going through the Senate. Facebook and Google had earlier argued that the law fundamentally misunderstood how the internet works. The news code encourages tech giants and news organisations to negotiate payment deals between themselves and commits Facebook and Google to invest tens of millions of dollars in local digital content. If negotiations fail, an independent arbitrator can set the price they pay domestic media – something analysts say benefits the news groups.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – a market regulator – said publishers have had little negotiating power until now because they are so reliant on tech monopolies like Google and Facebook. Both firms have also committed to spending one billion US dollar each in the news industry globally over the next three years.

Google has already struck deals with major Australian news businesses in recent weeks including News Corp. and Seven West Media.

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