Australia Retreats from Web News Rules
Australia watered down rules covering payments for news content by web giants. The country proposed amendments offering an opt-out clause to companies including Facebook and Google, which were in the nation’s crosshairs.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced Australia’s government planned changes which would free companies from an obligation to pay for specific news content in circumstances when they can demonstrate a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through commercial deals with news media businesses. Frydenberg argued the changes will strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers in obtaining appropriate remuneration for content use by the digital platforms.
Australia’s parliament had been debating legislation which would have required companies including Facebook and Google to agree a fair price for news content with publishers. It faced fierce resistance from the companies, with Google warning of harm to provision of free services, and Facebook dropping news from its service in Australia.
Google had reportedly previously agreed deals with a host of domestic publishers and, following the government’s announcement, Facebook said it will restore access to news in the coming days. VP of global news partnerships Campbell Brown stated the company will support the publishers they choose to, while retaining its ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that they won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation. Facebook also pledged to invest in news on a global scale, and resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks.