Australia set to make Google and Facebook pay for content

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Google, Facebook and possibly other tech giants are inching closer to paying publishers for content they link to from their platforms in Australia.

Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had discussions over the weekend with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai concerning planned legislation called the News Media Code, which will essentially force companies who link to content from Australian publishers to pay for it. Google and Facebook have, up until now, stated that the legislation is unworkable, with Google threatening to block searches Down Under.

According to a report on The Register, Frydenberg said he believes the two companies are close to doing deals to pay Australian publishers.

“I have been talking to both Facebook and Google over the course of the weekend. ” Frydenberg said. “We have made great progress over the course of the weekend. I think we are very close to some very significant commercial deals.”

A new precedent for Google?

Facebook and Google have remained largely silent about the treasurer’s comments, but it’s likely they’re watching the situation with interest; Australia’s parliament is scheduled to consider the draft laws tomorrow, after the Economics Legislation Committee last Friday published its report recommending no changes to the regulations.

The tech giants have reason to be worried; while both companies could likely afford to pay Australian publishers for their content, doing so could send a signal to other countries who may adopt similar regulations.

Australian authorities have remained bullish on their plans to move ahead with this legislation, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying that Australia won’t back down in the face of Google’s threats to pull out of the county.

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