The Australian media will charge – according to the agreement – millions of dollars from Google and Facebook, in return, the Internet giant groups will avoid paying mandatory sums that may cost them much more.
Facebook announced Tuesday that it has lifted the ban on news content in Australia after reaching a last-minute deal with the government on a law to compel tech giants to pay media outlets for the use of their content.
Australian officials were forced to amend the law due to the damage caused to Australian websites and newspapers after Facebook banned the circulation of their news content, as the media relied on Facebook to achieve more coverage and views.
Australian Finance Minister Josh Friedenberg said a settlement had been reached that would allow both parties to save face.
Details of the agreement
Under the settlement reached at a time when parliament is considering the bill, Facebook and Google, the most prominent companies targeted by the text, will not be subject to penalties if they enter into agreements with local media outlets to pay them in exchange for using their news.
The two groups were given a two-month deadline to negotiate these arrangements and avoid binding arbitration.
According to the agreement, the Australian media receive millions of dollars from Google and Facebook, and in return, the giant internet groups avoid making obligatory sums that may cost them much more and may set a worrying precedent in their opinion in the world.
“Thanks to these adjustments, we can continue to invest in journalism of public interest and give Australians back the news on Facebook in the coming days,” said Will Easton, General Manager of Facebook in Australia.
Hours after the settlement was announced, Facebook revealed a first draft agreement with the Australian influential Seven West Media.
“We reached an agreement that would allow us to support the press groups of our choice, including small and local groups,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president in charge of global news partnerships.
In response to the bill, Facebook last week blocked news links from local or international media in Australia, in a move that accidentally affected several official pages of the Australian emergency services on the network.
As for Google, which threatened to suspend its search engine for a while in Australia, last week it agreed to pay “huge sums of money” in exchange for using the contents of press groups. The most prominent of these groups are “NewsCorp” owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and “Nine Entertainment.” (Nine Entertainment).
Commentators described the settlement reached as “reasonable.” “Everyone can say: We got what we wanted,” Rob Nichols, professor of business administration at the University of New South Wales, told AFP.
Agreement not implemented
From the beginning, the giant Internet companies have expressed their strong opposition to the law, which is supposed to govern relations between the traditional media, which face a difficult financial situation, and the giant groups that dominate the Internet and receive a huge share of advertising revenue.
These companies feared setting a precedent that threatened their economic model. It was also opposed to imposing mandatory negotiations with the media, and in the event of a dispute, an independent Australian arbiter would be tasked with deciding on the matter.
Under the settlement, these measures will only be applied if it is deemed that internet companies have made a “significant contribution” to Australian media through “trade agreements” whose terms have not been specified.
Marcus Strom, head of the Alliance for Media, Entertainment and the Arts, said, “We are now facing a strange possibility that the parliament will pass the code of good conduct and not apply it specifically to anyone.”
And Facebook, which is less dependent on news content from Google, has said it is not in its interest to pay for the news.
“There is no doubt that Australia has fought a proxy battle for the entire world,” Friedenberg said.
Critics of the Australian bill say that it penalizes prosperous companies and returns to the transfer of funds to the account of traditional media, which are in a financial dilemma but maintain political influence.
And Australia’s media sector has cut thousands of jobs over the past decade at a time when advertising revenue was going to the big tech companies.
Of the $ 100 in advertising expenses paid by Australian companies, $ 49 goes to Google and $ 24 to Facebook, according to the Australian Competition Authority.
And if Google and Facebook apparently reached a settlement in Australia, this does not mean that they are no longer facing problems, as the European Union, Canada and other countries intend to impose laws in this sector.
The two American giants took advantage of the lack of laws to become among the most profitable companies in the world.