The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’) and Australian Government are in the final stages of proposing a new law change. This change would require large companies who advertise media to pay royalties to local providers as a means of revitalising and enabling small media companies to survive.
Facebook have issued a response to this stating that they will stop all Australian users from sharing local and international news. This will avoid the need to pay royalties to local providers of news. Facebook are claiming that they have no choice in the matter because of the implications of accepting this law change would lead to revenue-sharing agreements with independent arbitrators where publishers would be able to charge Facebook as much as they want for the content with no clear price limit which is not economically viable way of charging Facebook and Google.
Facebook are also of the opinion that this will do more harm than good showing that the government misconceive how the internet works. This is because the old style of media is becoming outdated with newspapers being a thing of the past and users do not having the brand loyalty that they used to and journalism has now become this fast paced scramble where it has become harder to distinguish between real news and fake news. So, the ability to access news from Google and Facebook is becoming more and more prevalent and actually would have more benefit to local providers as it gives the news more of a chance to be accessed.
Where the ACCC and members of the Australian government are of the opinion that if the media isn’t funded it will result in being no free press, criticism and no media company will be able to employ qualified journalists. Therefore the ACCC see Facebook’s response as a means of strong arming the government, so they do not pass the law.
Even if it passes it doesn’t look as if either party is going to reconcile. If a middle ground could be found which is economically viable and supports the local providers, then they could come to agreement but this looks unlikely.
Written by Owen White LLB(Hons) Graduate