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Australia passes law to make Facebook, Google pay for news

Australia passes the world’s first law to make tech platforms pay for the news content published on their websites.

The news code legislation has previously been fiercely opposed by tech giants, Facebook and Google.

Over the row with Australian government Facebook had blocked news content for its citizens last week. Facebook reinstated the blocked news pages this week after negotiations with Australian government.

According to BBC following the talks, the law passed with new amendments which make it possible for Facebook and Google not to be subject to the code.

However, both companies have now committed to paying lucrative sums to some big Australian publishers outside of the code. These deals have been widely viewed as a compromise by the tech giants.

Aforementioned law has been seen as a possible test case for similar regulation in other countries to get payment from digital platforms for news.

After going through the Senate, the amended legislation was passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

The law incentivises tech giants and news organisations to negotiate payment deals between themselves. If such talks fail, digital platforms could be dragged into independent arbitrations.

The government argues this prescribes a “fairer” negotiation process between the parties, as it gives news organisations more leverage.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – a market regulator – says publishers have had little negotiating power until now because they are so reliant on tech monopolies like Google and Facebook.

Any dispute over the value of news content would be settled by the arbitrator – something analysts say benefits the news groups.

The code also forces tech platforms to give notice to news publishers of changes to their algorithms.

However, the amended law now requires the government to consider a platform’s existing contributions to journalism – such as commercial deals with publishers – before applying the code to them.

This means Facebook and Google could escape the arbitration process entirely.

The government also has to give the platform a month’s notice if it is considering applying the code to them.

The tech firms argue they already help news publishers by driving traffic back to news sites from their platforms.

Facebook and Google simply help people find news content in the first place, the platforms say.

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