Google has threatened to leave Australia after a new law, currently in the process of being passed, would force the company to pay a license fee to newspapers and publishers in the country. The license fee, which Google can not otherwise avoid (by excluding the publication for example) would either be negotiated by Google and the newspaper or set by an independent adjudicator.

Google has understandably not been happy with the proposal, likely particularly due to the precedent it sets, but Microsoft, whose Bing only has 3% market share in Australia, has said they are all too happy to step in and replace them, with Microsoft’s Satya Nadella reportedly in high-level talks with Australia’s PM.

Now in a blog post, Microsoft has further undermined Google by saying they are perfectly happy to follow the News Media Bargaining Code, including paying the fee, with Microsoft’s Brad Smith saying:

“While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us.”

In addition, Microsoft threw some shade at Google, saying:

One thing is clear: while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat. We appreciate what Australia has long meant for Microsoft’s growth as a company, and we are committed to supporting the country’s national security and economic success.

In a further aggressive move, Microsoft said they would assist local advertisers to transfer their campaigns from Google to Microsoft at no cost.

Read their full blog post below:

Last week, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, and I spoke with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher about the Government’s proposed way of addressing the current bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses. During that conversation, we made the following points:

  • Microsoft is committed to Australia and the news publishers that are vital to the country’s democracy.
  • Microsoft recognizes that the media sector and public interest journalism currently face many challenges from the digital era, including changing business models and evolving consumer preferences. That is why Microsoft has long supported the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) efforts to analyse these issues and propose world-first solutions.
  • Microsoft fully supports the News Media Bargaining Code. The code reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses. It also recognises the important role search plays, not only to consumers but to the thousands of Australian small businesses that rely on search and advertising technology to fund and support their organisations. While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us.
  • Microsoft will ensure that small businesses who wish to transfer their advertising to Bing can do so simply and with no transfer costs.  We recognise the important role search advertising plays to the more than two million small businesses in Australia.
  • We will invest further to ensure Bing is comparable to our competitors and we remind people that they can help, with every search Bing gets better at finding what you are looking for.
  • We believe that the current legislative proposal represents a fundamental step towards a more level playing field and a fairer digital ecosystem for consumers, business, and society.

One thing is clear: while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat. We appreciate what Australia has long meant for Microsoft’s growth as a company, and we are committed to supporting the country’s national security and economic success.

via onMSFT

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