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Tech giants made to pay for using news publishers' content

Australia's government is to make Google and Facebook pay local media organisations for their content.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg © Rohan Thomson/Getty Images
© Getty

In the latest twist in the debate over whether the tech giants are “unfairly benefiting from news articles that they link to”, the Australian government will force Google and Facebook to pay local media organisations for their content, says Mike Cherney in The Wall Street Journal.

While publishers have “long sought” compensation from Google and Facebook, which boost their own traffic by including news links, the tech giants have resisted paying for news content. They insist that publishers benefit by getting large amounts of traffic directed to them. Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg (pictured) said the amount that the tech giants would be told to pay to local media organisations would be in the “millions of dollars”.

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No wonder Australia has acted, says Jeffrey Goldfarb, for Breakingviews. After all, Google and Facebook account for “some 71% of spending in the $5.8bn online advertising market”, while the government has promised to help broadcasters and newspapers who are desperate for money. Still, the sums raised “probably won’t be enough” to save many “struggling” media companies.

And there’s always the possibility that Google and Facebook could simply “pull news content” from their Australian searches if the law required them “to pay for using it”, says Margaret Simons in The Guardian. After all, when Spain made payment compulsory, Google simply ended Google News for that country. However, with regulators across the world starting to work together it is hard to see how the tech giants can avoid agreeing a deal eventually.

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