Great Britain

Australia passes amended law to make Google and Facebook pay for news

Australia has passed new law forcing Google and Facebook to pay for the news they use, after a long standoff with the tech giants.

The law, the first of its kind in the world, is aimed at making platforms such as Google and Facebook strike a deal with news content generators. The law was being fiercely opposed by the tech giants and led to boycotting of several Australian media outlets on these platforms.

The parliament on Thursday passed the final amendments to the new News Media Bargaining Code after a consensus which "will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate," treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.

The law was passed after a consensus was reached between Mr Frydenberg and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg earlier this week after a series of negotiations.

The law has been highly debated from the time it was proposed as tech companies refused to abide by the initial version of the legislation, which required these platforms to bargain with media outlets and strike a deal for their content.  

The deadlock between the Australian government and tech giants reached a point where Facebook banned Australian news pages. Google had also threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia.

Both companies negotiated with the Australian government to ease the rules, and new amendments were added which enable Facebook and Google not to be subject to the code.

However, according to reports, both companies have to strike deals with several Australian outlets and will be paying hefty sums as part of the new compromise.

Google reportedly agreed to deals with local media companies worth £34m, according to BBC News. Facebook is also signing deals with a few companies and has already finalised one with the Seven West media. 

The new law will likely pave way for similar regulations in other countries, which is reportedly a cause for worry for tech companies.

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