Google and the Australian government are currently embroiled in an argument over whether the company should pay to use snippets from Australian news websites in their Google Search results. Google would need to pay a license fee not just for excerpts but also links to news sites, and if Gooogle is not able to negotiate a fee, an Australian arbitration judge will assign what they believe is a fair amount.
Google has threatened to withdraw from the Australian market if the government demands they pay for news, and now the Australian Financial Review reports Microsoft has told the Australian government they stand ready to take their place.
According to the AFR, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had direct talks with the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the wake of the threats.
“They’re watching this very closely, and no doubt see opportunities here in Australia to expand,” noted Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.
The Australian government are not currently inclined to give in to Google threats of withdrawal, with Morrison saying:
“Let me be clear. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia. And people who want to work with that, in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.”
Google is not alone, however, with the US Government also supporting the search company, with the US Trade Representative stating on the 15th January in a submission:
“We urge Australia to consider whether the potential breadth of the obligation imposed on designated platforms is consistent with … AUSFTA, which constrains parties with respect to performance requirements, specifically requirements to ‘transfer a particular technology, a production process, or other proprietary knowledge to a person in its territory’.”
The Australian internet is previously considered “under surveillance” by Reporters Without Borders due to a large number of restrictions placed on internet users there.