A bill would force companies to pay Australian publishers to display their topical content, a world first.
Google and Facebook Inc. won a key concession in Australia as the government unveiled details of a first global law to force digital giants to pay to post news articles.
The legislation, introduced in Australia’s parliament on Wednesday, requires Google and Facebook to compensate publishers for the value their stories generate for platforms.
But in a change from an earlier draft, the legislation now also recognizes the monetary value that platforms offer news organizations by directing readers to their websites.
While the details will be debated by lawmakers and could be changed, the wording change follows a months-long campaign by Google to blunt the law. The tech giant argued that publishers also benefit from additional online readership when articles are available on the platforms.
Facebook had taken a harsher line. The American social media company has threatened to prevent Australians from sharing information on its sites if the law is passed. The various responses have made Australia a test case as watchdogs around the world seek to harness the immense advertising power of the digital giants.
A spokesperson for Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., said it was too early to comment on the legislation.
Moderating its earlier stance, Facebook said on Wednesday it was reviewing Australian law.
“We will continue to engage in the upcoming parliamentary process with the aim of achieving a viable framework to support the Australian news ecosystem,” Will Easton, chief executive of Facebook Australia, said in a statement.
The legislation is designed to support a local media industry, including News Corp. by Rupert Murdoch, who has struggled to adapt to the digital economy.
“Australian news media companies must be compensated fairly for generating original content and the rules of the digital world must reflect the rules of the physical world,” Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on his website. “This new mandatory trading code is a world first.”
An arbitration panel will decide how much tech companies must pay publishers if the two parties cannot agree on a payment on their own, according to the law, which the government does not expect to legislate. this week before Parliament is suspended until February.