Australia passes online news law after row with Facebook
Australia has passed a landmark law that will force tech giants Facebook and Google to pay publishers for news content.
The world-first legislation follows a bitter row with Facebook, which blocked access to news in the country in protest to the changes.
Following tense negotiations the law today passed with amendments that will allow the companies to sidestep the legislation if they ink deals with individual publishers.
“The code will ensure news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism,” Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg and communications minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.
They added that Facebook’s news blackout in the country, which also took out government and charity pages, will be lifted tomorrow.
Both sides claimed victory after the amended law was passed, with Facebook and Google arguing that the framework “fundamentally” misunderstood how the sharing of news content online works.
But the amendments give more time for the firms to cut individual deals, encouraging “significant” contributions to the news industry.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp last week signed a deal with Google, while several large media groups in the country, including Seven West Media, Nine Entertainment and the Australian Broadcasting Corp have said they were in talks with Facebook.
The wrangling over news payment has been closely watched in the UK and EU, where ministers are considering similar new laws.
Facebook and Google have both signed licensing agreements with a number of British publishers in a bid to fend off any new legislation.
Meanwhile, Facebook stepped in to ban the Myanmar military from using its Facebook and Instagram platforms with immediate effect.
Today’s announcement comes as weeks of mass demonstrations continue in the Southeast Asian country after the military seized power.