Just a couple of weeks back we reported that France has asked Google to pay publishers for using their content in search results. Now, the Australian government is working on implementing a similar law for both Facebook and Google.

The government has ordered its Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to create a mandatory code of conduct that will force Facebook, Google, and others to pay the publishers for reusing their news content. The authorities were already negotiating but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has prompted them to shift to a mandatory rule due to the ad-revenue hit taken by the publishers. The code of conduct will detail revenue sharing, data sharing, news ranking and will also dictate penalties as well as the dispute resolution process.

The ACCC also noted that it’s unlikely that tech companies will come forward voluntarily to strike a deal with the publishers. Government treasurer Josh Frydenberg, on the other hand, noted that would help “level the playing field” with traditional news media and “it’s only fair that those that generate content get paid for it”. A draft of the code of conduct should be ready by the end of July but we aren’t sure when the final code with go into effect.

Both Google and Facebook have criticized the move with Facebook’s Managing Director for the region, Will Easton, saying he was “disappointed” with the move:

We’re disappointed by the Government’s announcement, especially as we’ve worked hard to meet their agreed deadline. COVID-19 has impacted every business and industry across the country, including publishers, which is why we announced a new, global investment to support news organisations at a time when advertising revenue is declining. We believe that strong innovation and more transparency around the distribution of news content is critical to building a sustainable news ecosystem. We’ve invested millions of dollars locally to support Australian publishers through content arrangements, partnerships and training for the industry and hope the code will protect the interests of millions of Australians and small businesses that use our services every day.

– Facebook (via Gizmodo)

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