While Australia is trying to make Google and Facebook pay for news content, Google is confirming an experiment in which some publishers no longer appear in search.
In Australia, some publishers are currently realizing how powerful Google really is in the distribution of news and media content. Because, as the search engine company has now confirmed, an experiment will be carried out until February through which individual commercial publishers will simply no longer be displayed in the Google search of some users on Google in Australia. About one percent of users in Australia are said to be affected by the experiment, according to Google. This could be seen as a show of power by the tech giant. Because the Australian government wants to pass a law that obliges Google and Facebook to negotiate a license fee for the display of media content with Australian media companies.
This is what the bill in Australia provides: Facebook and Google have to pay for news
Australia’s resolution to oblige tech giants Google and Facebook by law to pay royalties for content from publishers that they play is unique in the world. The Guardian reportedthat the government wanted to regulate the loss of advertising revenue among publishers. After all, Google and Facebook would benefit over 80 percent of digital advertising spending. The government argues that news greatly enrich the content of the Facebook and Google platforms and that publishers should also be financially rewarded for it.
Google had already strongly criticized the draft law and called on users and creators to actively defend themselves against the project. In the last week of the 2020 session The Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020 however finally submitted. The law stipulates that the publishers negotiate deals with Google and Facebook, while the companies must notify them of algorithm updates that affect the publishers 14 days in advance. Should Google or Facebook refuse to negotiate, ten million US dollars or ten percent of annual sales in Australia could be punished as a penalty.
Google downplays the experiment and points out the value of referral traffic
Google is now going a very special way to demonstrate its power to the Australian government and media houses. The experiment, in which some publishers no longer appear, reveals the influence the company has on the media landscape. Google downplays the experiment opposite the Guardian states a member of the press department:
[We are] running a few experiments that will each reach about 1% of Google Search users in Australia to measure the impacts of news businesses and Google Search on each other.
Furthermore, this test is one of tens of thousands on Google News a year. Furthermore, Google’s press department makes it clear that they want to be cooperative:
We remain committed to getting to a workable code and look forward to working with the Senate committee, policymakers, and publishers to achieve an outcome that’s fair for everyone, in the interests of all Australians.
The current legislative proposal is not justified. After all, referral traffic worth US $ 218 million was generated for publishers in 2018 alone, according to Google.
The power struggle continues
The media world is now looking forward to Australia. Will the Australian government stand firm in enforcing the law and stopping Google and Facebook? Google explains that it undermines the principle of the search engine if the company had to pay to display links to publishers. In addition, aspects such as the preferred treatment of publishers in the context of algorithm updates are hardly feasible or justifiable.
Google is now doing its best to avert the planned law. Not only does the test of hiding publishers play a role. A current blog post from Mel Silva, VP of Google Australia & New Zealand, lists critical voices on the bill. Among other things, the Australian musician and YouTube creator will be there Sheet Music Boss quoted:
We do not feel it is fair for news companies to be given special treatment under the law. Why should additional money be paid to news media for their content on Google’s platforms when no other type of creator is given such a privilege?
Numerous dissenting votes from organizations, media companies and individuals are listed. And Google says there is still a chance to avert the law. In fact, the Australian Senate Committee has now finally received the draft. There are still concerns until January 18th before the proposal goes back to Parliament. Until then, Google wants to ensure with the campaign – and with the demonstration of power of the test – that a law that is fairer from its own perspective is put in place. The last word in this debate must therefore not yet have been spoken.
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