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October 16, 2021

Google threatens to shut down search engine in Australia if it has to pay media

Google claims it has no option but to withdraw Google Search from Australia if the country enters the News Media Bargaining Code. This means that Google and Facebook may have to pay for links and snippets to articles from media companies.

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Google has expressed its views on the Australian bill to a senate committee and is making it public on its blog. If the proposal is actually enacted into law, it would provide Google with no other option than to stop Google Search in the country, said Mel Silva, managing director of Google Australia. According to her, this is a worst-case scenario.

The News Media Bargaining Code is a code of conduct that Australia may implement that will allow media companies to negotiate fees with Google and Facebook for posting their news on their platforms. Google and Facebook must also report if they make changes to their algorithms that affect news and they must share data collected through interacting with news. The code could eventually apply to more tech companies.

According to Google, the code of conduct is ‘unworkable’. It would force Google to pay for links and snippets and “break the functioning of search engines at a fundamental level.”

Google reports that it does not know what does and what does not fall within the definition of news and that paying for links and snippets undermines the principle of an open internet. If Google had to give media companies a fortnight in advance about algorithm changes, that would put other sites at a disadvantage, the argument goes on.

Facebook must also appear before the Australian committee on Friday. According to The Guardian, that company is calling for a period of six months to negotiate with the media companies before the code of conduct would be implemented. Facebook calls the code ‘complex, unpredictable and unworkable’.

Update : In France , after many months of negotiations, Google reached an agreement with the media sector on Thursday for compensation for related rights to published news. Google will enter into individual licensing agreements with press releases that will allow news to be instantly included in Google’s News Showcase, which will provide readers with access to rich content, not just snippets.

The difference with Australia is, among other things, that news is more clearly defined: Google speaks of criteria such as, for example, the contribution to political and general information, the daily volume of publications and the monthly internet audience.


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