Australia’s parliament passed a law on Thursday to make Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. pay media companies for content on their platforms in reforms that countries such as Britain and Canada are looking to replicate.
After robust negotiations in which Facebook blocked all news content in the 13th-largest economy, the vote makes Australia the first nation where a government arbitrator can set the price tech giants pay domestic media. “The code will ensure news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism,” treasurer Josh Frydenberg and communications minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.
Representatives of both Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The new law sets the stage for a dispute-handling process largely untested in corporate Australia, should negotiations between Big Tech and media companies fail. Its progress will be closely watched globally.
Both sides claimed victory after Australia offered Facebook some concessions, including government discretion to release the tech giants from arbitration if they can prove a “significant contribution” to the domestic news industry.
The revised code also allows the tech companies a longer period to cut media deals before the state intervenes. It will be reviewed within a year of taking effect, the joint statement said, but gave no start date.