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Australia to make Facebook, Google pay for news (www.reuters.com)
524 points by nreece 6 days ago | hide | past | web | 441 comments | favorite





People in this thread seem to believe that this is only relevant to Google News. This is actually for all of Google, including Search. According to https://www.afr.com/companies/media-and-marketing/facebook-a...

> Mr Sims said if Google took a similar approach to its actions in Spain when it was asked to pay for news on its Google News tab, it would be irrelevant because the code covered news content in Google's primary function, search.

So it seems like the ultimatum is: pay Australia media companies ~$1b or don't list any news media (including international news) on Google Search for Australian users. Interesting dilemma.


Well, this is easy: remove the news. Also deals with all accusations of bias at the same time.

> pay Australia media companies ~$1b

This is Rupert Murdoch, isn't it.


Murdoch is the Australian Bezos - except he has way more political clout in a larger area of the world, and has been running his empire for 30+ years. Bezos is building those relationships with his expansions, and he's obviously got more cash to fund them - but Murdoch's empire shouldn't be underestimated.

His organization also has significant clout in the US and UK where he owns big media corporations. He's long influenced British politics, and through Fox US politics. This bill looks to be sponsored, and crafted by Murdoch.

At least Bezos provides us with an arguably useful service. What the hell has Murdoch provided the people other than FUD?

Weird way of putting it. People in North America who pay attention to politics have known about Murdoch for decades because of Fox News, before they bounced Bezos' name around nearly as freely.

It’s right there in the article.

> Media companies including News Corp Australia, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NWSA.O), lobbied hard for the government to force the U.S. companies to the negotiating table amid a long decline in advertising revenue.


> Well, this is easy: remove the news. Also deals with all accusations of bias at the same time.

Not so easy, since if you do that, you've just given an opening to a competitor that people will start using when they want to search for a news article.


A competitor who would be equally obliged to pay rent for the news. That’s a pretty big regulatory hurdle for a startup to cross.

Unless I've grossly misunderstood, it seems that the bill would apply only to Google and Facebook right now.

Would this payment also apply to a news startup which shows links from other news agencies and shows up on google. Is google obliged to pay this news site under the law? If so I just found my new internet startup and paying client.

There’s some language in there so that they only have to pay large news corporations that hire professional journalists.

> A competitor who would be equally obliged to pay rent for the news. That’s a pretty big regulatory hurdle for a startup to cross.

Maybe, but Google's interest is in maintaining its search monopoly, not creating opportunities for its destruction in fits of pique.

I'm also skeptical about how much of a hurdle this would actually be, since businesses typically have to pay suppliers (e.g. by licensing content). These rules probably only seems like a big thing because SV tech businesses have been weirdly allowed to opt out of paying in situations like this for a long time. It's not like the necessity of paying royalties prevented Netflix from taking off.


> fits of pique

"Fits of pique" like being extorted for $1 billion dollars per year? That's something like 4% of their global profit that they're being asked to fork over for the privilege of continuing to provide a just one search functionality in a small and isolated market. They'll just disable news searches in Australia lol.


I don't see any reason why Google itself couldn't simply spin off a competitor. They wouldn't have to own it. They could simply provide know-how, discounts on infrastructure, investment, and/or acquire the company at a later date.

Seems cheaper and more fruitful than simply forking over $1B. Then again, the risk to doing so might be scarier than a billion-dollar fine, especially if you factor in that the move (if discovered) would piss off legislators.


$1 billion / year is a lot of money. They'll just not serve news results for Australian-origin searches. Most searches are not for news, and news searches are not product searches and probably don't draw much ad money. People can use Bing for their news until the government wises up and adds Microsoft to their list of applicable companies (currently just Facebook and Google), at which point I'm sure Microsoft will also disable news search results in Australia.

Cheaper to pay $1bn to Murdoch than loose all the ad revenue from Australia.

That's assuming that they won't coming back begging once they realize that they need Google much more than Google needs them. Ad revenue from news sites from Australia is a slice of a slice for Google. For the news company, it's probably 90% of their traffic.

Uh-oh... if all news sites had a drop of 90% of traffic pretty sure the monopoly bells would start ringing!

If this is being done on purpose to make a case, it's a goddamn genius move - next level chess.

Google could be in a tight spot.


I don't get it - isn't that giving them exactly what they claim to want?

"You say we are unfairly dominating? Fine we'll leave and let competitors take our place." Not competing at all in a market (barring reciprocial cartel territory divisuon) is the exact opposite of anti-competive behavior. They aren't even existing there to harm them!

At worst it would be monosopy and again they provided the remedy, reducing their "buying share" of the market to 0%.

It is essentially the ultimate calling of a bluff by not sticking around to be their scapegoat.


I'm not an expert, but I'm not sure if that applies here. Google isn't in the business of making news, and isn't competing with these news companies directly. If you get 90% of the traffic to your portfolio from my blog, does that make me a monopoly too?

Is it ordinarily the case for competition law in Australia to require someone with monopoly power to do business with someone when their prices increase dramatically?

Once a protection racket works, it doesn’t tend to discourage others.

Yes. One giant extorting another giant.

Many people google topics to find news articles. That traffic may be worth $1B to Google.

Not really. There's never been a lot of search ads on news search terms and news carries with it headaches that Google might be relieved to be rid of. Most likely scenario is that Google just deletes news from Australian searches, and Australians just find another aggregator for their news, which will probably be another large American platform that doesn't pay publishers

> There's never been a lot of search ads on news search terms

The searches don't need to convert themselves in order to be valuable; if they affect user behavior enough, they'll affect it for commercial queries too. Ie, if someone switches to Bing because they never get good results on Google, they'll probably just switch to Bing period, instead of jumping back to Google for their commercial queries.


It's $1 billion / year, and it's just news searches in Australia. Some database queries will figure out whether it's more profitable to pay up or to disable news searching in Australia, and I'd bet it's gonna be disabling news searches.

There is no way news searches are worth $40 per potential customer. Assuming every single person in Australia searched for news on Google.

No love lost between Google and newspapers. Money is gonna from their ads to Google. So have readers.

Actually the law seems to ban Google from “discriminating” based on this mandatory agreement entirely, including banning them from algorithimically burying their results.

Aka: show and pay News Corp or GTFO out of Australia. Sad.


Honestly if Google and Facebook de-listed News Corp that'd probably hurt News Corp more than the tech giants. Their print publications are already circling the drain internationally. I think they should call their bluff.

Delisting News Corp would also have the benefit of raising the collective IQ

So this is just a very roundabout way of subsidizing Australian news media without having to call it that.

It’s likely an attempt by the libs to buy favour with the Murdoch press, who have traditionally had a lot of control over election outcomes.

has appeasement honestly ever worked?

That was more or less how New Labour got elected in the UK in the late 90s.

What do you mean? News Corp definitely has a sizeable influence over elections, or at least they have had in the past. So it works in that sense.

It’s not appeasement - the Liberal National Party and the Murdoch press have more of a ‘symbiotic relationship’.

Yes, you could consider it a tax (or rabbit) on large digital platforms to support commercial news corporations.

I'm just imagining, similarly to how some search results in the US have a "some search results removed for copyright infringement" footer, many search results in Australia having a "some search results removed for news content" footer. The interesting thing is that since this _explicitly_ only applies to Facebook and Google, any company repackaging Google or Bing search won't have this restriction, at least until they get big enough to be worth rewriting the law for.

Only Google and Facebook?

1.30 The Government has announced that the code will apply to Facebook and Google. Accordingly, the Treasurer is expected to make an instrument specifying Facebook Inc. and Google LLC as designated digital platform corporations.

Called out by name as the only two companies the law applies to.


Mr Sims here is ACCC chairman Rod Sims. The same who rammed through so many terrible decisions around the NBN, just as one example, including the POI decision which in one fell swoop eradicated all bits of ISP competition that had arisen in the ADSL2+ space. Funny thing for a "Competition and Consumer Commission" to do, yet here we are. Internode's blood is on his hands.

Well I agree re the PoI, but internode did pretty well, they got a $100M exit; lots of other ISPs and suppliers hit the wall. It was a nightmare decision to go from what, 7 POIs to over 200? Made no sense at all. Mind you the entire NBN from soup to nuts has been and remains a disaster.

Sent from my faulty HFC NBN (gone down 4 times in the last 2 days)


So does that mean having a hyper-link to a news article needs to be paid for? (Genuine question!)

That's what I wondered too. From the article, it seems like they're only targeting Facebook and Google for now. To apply the law equally, it seems like it should affect all websites that link to or copy the meta description tag of a news site.

So those media-rich preview pop-ups for hyperlinks in almost all IM apps would be also affected, no?

This is what happens when you make a string of 10-30 characters someones property.

I'd guess this only applies to snippets, not simple hyperlinks, so Google could get away by showing headlines only.

However, that is just complete speculation as I haven't seen the actual law, and the afr.com article is behind paywall for me.


“Discrimination in this context will be considered to occur if the news content of a registered news business is disadvantaged in comparison to other news content in terms of the crawling, indexing, ranking, display, presentation or other process undertaken by the digital platform on any service provided by the digital platform, on the basis of the registered news business' participation in the code.” https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20EM%2...


Google: OK.

Australian news media: No, come back!

I don't see how their demand work out well for them.


There's a lot of countries moving this direction. The problem is, Google is more powerful than most countries these days. Google can afford to cut a country off and let them suffer until they relent.

All of these countries need to unify on this requirement at the same time. Google can cut Australia off, but can they cut off Australia, France, and Spain off? What about Australia and the entire European Union?


I think the media companies are in the wrong. Google is providing a beneficial arrangement, and the media companies are demanding that google pays them.

Google has been bleeding the media dry. One of the graphs shown yesterday during the antitrust hearing was about how Google has shifted it's original business model of showing ads on third party sites (where they have to give most of the revenue to those sites, funding those sites) to a business model of showing ads predominantly on it's own sites, where it keeps all of the ad revenue.

Every single year, Google's ad business shifts more revenue from the "shares with third party sites" segment over to the "keeps all of it" segment. So while Google Search used to heavily fund news, every year, Google's cut gets bigger, and news orgs' cut gets smaller.

The second graph here is what was shown in the hearing, and shows the numbers pulled from Alphabet's reports: https://medium.com/beyond-devices/googles-increasing-relianc... "Google Network Members" effectively refers to website owners like news publishers which display ads.


> Google has been bleeding the media dry.

I don't think that's a fair characterization. Would you say that Ford bled blacksmiths and carriage makers dry? Technology moves on. Newspapers are dying because their business model blows in the current infoscape. People spend most of their attention on things other than news, and news is the ultimate information commodity.

> Every single year, Google's ad business shifts more revenue from the "shares with third party sites" segment over to the "keeps all of it" segment.

The linked article shows that the "keeps all of it" portion has been growing faster than the "shares with third party sites" portion. I don't think it's fair to say that they shift revenue from one to the other.

> So while Google Search used to heavily fund news, every year, Google's cut gets bigger, and news orgs' cut gets smaller.

This is not shown by the data in the linked article. Clicks and CPC are slightly down for "shares with third party sites" but that does not say anything about news sites in particular.


> One of the graphs shown yesterday during the antitrust hearing was about how Google has shifted it's original business model of showing ads on third party sites (where they have to give most of the revenue to those sites, funding those sites) to a business model of showing ads predominantly on it's own sites, where it keeps all of the ad revenue.

Do you have a link to the graph? My understanding was that Google's original business model was "provide a search engine, and show ads on it", and showing ads on third-party sites is newer?

(Disclosure: I work at Google, speaking only for myself)


So... if all countries at once said "Pay us for listing news.com" at the same time... and google said "go stuff yourself" and de-listed news.com globally...

How would that be different than 1 country at a time?

If Google refused to list news that they had to pay to list... across the board... Seems like it's simply making the process easier for Google as it'll be a one time fight.


Google will outlast the EU. Tensions have been high for years and Brexit seems to have less repercussions than initially thought. On top of that you have Germany strong arming France into giving weak nations billions. Its shaky from the weakest to the strongest countries.

You think Germany is the one strong arming France into this? Germany has always been one of the countries most against fiscal transfers.

Brexit seems to have less repercussions than initially thought because it hasn't happened yet! The UK is still in the single market and the customs union till end end of the year.


> Brexit seems to have less repercussions than initially thought

There are still agreements. Let's see in 2021. The question if the UK requires quarantine of its tourists coming back from Spain will be overshadowed by the question if the tourists get there in the first place.

> you have Germany strong arming France into giving weak nations billions

Rather the other way around.


Could they just not operate in Australia and give the proverbial middle finger to their government. Then just continue to link as they choose?

Yes and I hope they do. It's a bad law. If you have your news open and accessible on the internet without users having to authorize themselves then it's public information at that point.

Block it by a paywall. But they wouldn't do that because they would stop showing up in search engines. Google is providing a free service by directing traffic to these companies.

Reminds me of the LinkedIn case about bots crawling their website.


They don't even need a paywall. If they don't want to be listed on Google they can always use robots.txt.

We've been through this in Germany. Publishers demanded to be paid for Google usage of results and news snippets. Google thankfully didn't give in to such a ridiculous demand and gave publishers the option to de-index them or keep listing them for free. Obviously all of them opted for the latter.


Australia is not the first country to pass a law like this. Spain and France have both done some version of this as well. There's going to be a point where enough countries stand up to them that they can't just withdraw without substantially hurting their own business long-term.

I think the EU and Australia massively over estimate the amount of money their "news" links bring to google.

For google this will be a pure economics game, and when they passed the other laws Google looked at the numbers and noped out.

The same will be true for Australia.

I do not see the UK, US, or any of the emerging economies pulling this, so the EU and Australia will alone in this battle and the amount of money being demanded it seems to me most likely exceeds google profit, so they will just end the service to the nations, and blacklist the sites from search

Search will be fine because 3rd party sites will be indexed so it will be a 2 hope, and given the incestuous nature of "news" today where every story is written more or less than same on 100+ sites all over the globe I am sure people will find the news they are looking for just fine with out those sites in the index

The Eu and Australia are massively overplaying their hand


I haven't noticed any affect from Spain and France doing this. Recent earning shave been great. As long as they have the US they'll fine. And I don't see Asian ex-China and Eastern Europe pulling this any time soon

And who would be daft enough to take a niche which involves paying to advertise for others?

They can unite and tantrum all they want but it won't change the underlying reality any more than fervent demands for a "good people only" backdoor encryption won't exist.


Why is it not possible to just change their robots file and cut out Google that way. Then if they don't like it they can discuss terms, no law needed.

They could any time they wanted to, googlebot respects robots.txt prohibitions. They want google to direct traffic to their websites and they want google to pay for the privilege...

I feel like this is the weakest take on the argument.

They want google to pay for re-hosting /lifting any content (previews, headlines, etc.). Linking is just caught in the crossfire, if it's even mentioned.

If we are being honest, the majority of people read headlines and don't bother with more than the first paragraph or summary of the article. This is all displayed on Google properties where users don't even leave the Google infrastructure.

Is Google providing a service? Definitely. Does online news depend on Google? Definitely. Is Google's relationship with them abusive? Definitely.


> They want google to pay for re-hosting

That's odd, usually companies pay Google to host their content via GCP


That way they won't be able to profit off of Facebook and Google's successes :)

I feel like this is going to backfire. What if Google just dualists Australian media from search results because they don't want to pay royalties? What if they start charging the media companies to be included in search results in order to cover the cost?

Thank you to the several people who have posted a link to the bill itself. I'll add to the pile to make it easier to see: https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20EM%2...

There's something interesting in there that nobody in this discussion has yet mentioned, nor does the original news article, section 52S:

    Subsection (2) applies if the registered news
    business corporation for the registered news
    business makes a request, in writing, to the
    responsible digital platform corporation for
    the digital platform service to do any of the
    following:

     (a) ensure that the registered news business
         corporation is provided with flexible
         content moderation tools that allow
         the registered news business corporation
         to remove or filter comments on the registered
         news business’ covered news content that:
      (i) are made using the digital platform service; and
      (ii) are made on a part of the digital platform
           service that is set up and able to be edited
           by the registered news business;

     (b) ensure that the registered news business
         corporation can disable the making of such
         comments;

     (c) ensure that the registered news business
         corporation can block the making of such comments:
      (i) by particular persons; or
      (ii) in particular circumstances.
If I am reading this correctly (a big if!), this gives the news corporations the right to exert complete control over all "comments" on their news articles on these "digital platform services", meaning that, for instance, Hacker News or Reddit, if covered by this law, would no longer be independent sites to discuss news, but would be forcibly placed under the control of the news site. (Not sure those sites would be covered, just using that as an example.)

So if the newspaper leans X, they can shut down all the comments from people who lean the other way, or people who disagree with the article, or anything they like (possibly subject to other laws, but certainly no restrictions are placed here).

That's... full of implications, to say the least.


Unless I'm misreading, "and are made on a part of the digital platform service that is set up and able to be edited by the registered news business" suggests this only applies to the news agency's own social media pages. I.E. they wouldn't be able to censor comments on links to their content posted by third parties.

> suggests this only applies to the news agency's own social media pages

1.88 seems to indicate that pretty clearly, providing this example:

“In the case of a social media service such as Facebook, this rule deals with the situation where the news business has posted its covered news content on the news business’ own social media page. Comments on the news business’ articles posted by somebody else on another Facebook page are not covered by this law ”


(For context, I'm not trying to be alarmist, merely observe something interesting that I acknowledge I may not fully understand that nobody else was talking about.)

Even that is pretty amazing on its own terms, essentially carving out the new's site on those platforms. Interestingly, I don't see it taking away control from the host, either, so either of them ought to be able to censor. It would be interesting to see a vigorously anti-Facebook article get posted on Facebook, with Facebook nuking everyone supportive of the article and the news site nuking everyone arguing against it. (And both of the nuking the "where are all the comments?" comments.)

Is there someone knowledgeable about Australian law that can explain how the "clarification" stands in relation to the actual law? In the US system, where AFAIK such clarifications would have low priority vs. the actual text of the law, I'd be nervous as a "digital platform provider" relying on the clarification to save me from the text of the law, which to my eyes do not contain that carveout, but under a different system these may be given higher priority.

(& with all due respect to the many fine Internet Lawyers (TM) on HN, International Internet Lawyers (TM) even, I am asking for people who actually know. I can provide myself with all the knowledge-free speculation I need already.)


It's worthwhile noting that the courts have been holding media companies responsible for the comments on their pages which I imagine at least some part of the motivation for this.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/media-companies-liable-f...


Social media content isn't hosted on their property. If they can't comply with such laws they should delete these accounts rather than claim digital squatter's rights.

The text you quoted contains the carve-out: the comments must be “made on a part of the digital platform service that is set up and able to be edited by the registered news business.” If the text of a law is ambiguous or obscure, courts can consider extrinsic material, including the explanatory memorandum, in interpreting it: https://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/aia190123...

To be fair most news outlets get their news from news aggregators like Reuters. Hardly any news outlet does its own investigation/News search these days. So what stops Google to do the same and buy its news from a news aggregator instead of showing the Australian news site links and yet not leaving a space for competitors.

I think it was 1 or 2 years ago that one of the news sites were successfully sued for failing to remove hate speech in Facebook comments on a news story they shared. From memory, the judge basically said that if they can’t follow the law on Facebook then they shouldn’t be on it.

I could also be misreading this, but that caveat seems to apply only to 2(a) and not 2(b) or 2(c). I haven't yet read the surrounding context so it's possible those are further restricted as well, but I don't think 2(a)(ii) applies to the other two sections at least.

2(a)(ii) is picked up by (b) and (c) because they refer to “such comments,” ie. comments as defined in (a).

Ah! Yup, you're right - I misread then.

>, this gives the news corporations the right to exert complete control over all "comments" on their news articles on these "digital platform services", meaning that, for instance, Hacker News or Reddit, if covered by this law, would no longer be independent sites to discuss news, but would be forcibly placed under the control of the news site.

Using Google search, I don't know if I found the canonical draft but using this pdf[1] as the source, the excerpt says:

>Which digital platforms must participate in the code?

1.29 A digital platform must participate in the code if the Treasurer has made a determination specifying a designated digital platform corporation. The Treasurer may also specify one or more designated digital platform services. [Schedule 1, item 1, section 52C]

1.30 The Government has announced that the code will apply to Facebook and Google. Accordingly, the Treasurer is expected to make an instrument specifying Facebook Inc. and Google LLC as designated digital platform corporations.

1.31 ‘Digital platform’ is not defined in the Bill, but is intended to capture platforms that deliver a wide variety of services such as social media services, search engines and other digital content aggregators.

1.32 A ‘digital platform service’ is a service that is provided by the designated digital platform corporation, either by itself or together with one or more related corporations. A given digital platform will normally provide multiple digital services, such as messaging, search, content curation and other content sharing services.[Schedule 1, item 1, section 52B]

------

The way I as a layman read it is... "the law is targeted at giants like Google & Facebook and not Hacker News".

So, HN is spared not because it doesn't meet some strict criteria of what "digital platform is". Instead, HN won't be a target because it's too small to bother with.

[1] https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20EM%2...


It feels like a code smell (law smell?) to name specific corporations in the text of a law. It's the legislative equivalent of hardcoding.

I believe the usual term is a "bill of attainder". The US has a long-standing constitutional prohibition on doing this, though apparently Australia does not.

I think you'll find the US often has lists of corporations and people overseas that US corporations and persons are not allowed to work with/for. The US also has provisions designating companies as of national security importance and other areas.

This draft law allows the relevant government minister (in this case the Treasurer) to designate certain corporations as subject to this law. The corporations have access to the courts to challenge the designation and requirements of "natural justice" have been applied to ministerial actions by the courts.


Facebook and Google aren’t hard-coded into the law. The law applies to “designated digital platform corporations.” The executive government can add or remove companies from the list at “runtime” (without passing a new bill), but the explanatory memorandum linked above says that initially only Facebook and Google will be designated.

Thanks for the clarification, I can see that now after rereading, that makes sense.

Yes, I should clarify I was not intending to ring the alarm bell as if Hacker News is directly under attack. Most likely HN is completely not subject to Australian jurisdiction, and even if it was, there's no money to squeeze from HN anyhow. I just meant it as an exemplar of a type of site that could be affected.

You're aware of Y Combinator, right? Plenty of money to squeeze from that (roughly $100bn)...

First, Y Combinator has to be in Australia. I don't know if funding a company there would be enough; suspect not. I don't know whether they have funded an Australian company.

And I'm not going to look, because secondly, even if Australia did somehow get its hooks in to HN to some significant degree, and there was no escape, Y Combinator would simply shut down HN. It's nice enough of them to run it as it is, but expecting them to play by these rules to do it is unreasonable. If they were feeling particularly friendly they might spin it off or something. (Turning it into a subscription service is probably feasible at this point, for instance.) Unlike Google or Facebook, HN is not their core business, and shutting off at this point could even be a net gain for quite a few years. The rep gain that HN afforded them is mostly realized now.

There's no way for Australia to squeeze Y Combinator through HN.


> ‘Digital platform’ is not defined in the Bill

This part says that who the bill applies to will be defined later, by the Executive power.


> if the newspaper leans X, they can shut down all the comments from people who lean the other way, or people who disagree with the article

And make no mistake about it - ALL the media in Australia owned by essentially one person, so there is a lot of leaning.


Section 1.89 in the Exposure Draft clarifies this, I think:

> 1.89 In the case of a social media service such as Facebook, this rule deals with the situation where the news business has posted its covered news content on the news business’ own social media page. Comments on the news business’ articles posted by somebody else on another Facebook page are not covered by this law.

If I read this right, they don't need a way to filter comments on a link to their article that someone else posts, just comments underneath one of their own posts. Still not great, but less intrusive than that text you quoted seemed to imply (I couldn't find in that exact wording in your link).


This is probably driven by a precedent set recently in Australia where media organisations were found to be legally responsible for any defamatory comments on their stories in Facebook.

https://www.gtlaw.com.au/insights/nsw-court-appeal-confirms-...


Actually, recently there was a court cases where a news organisation (News Ltd) was sued for defamation because of comments about an article posted to Facebook.

Which is nuts. And which this legislation is trying to, rather ham-handedly, fix. Also, it puts pressure on Facebook, which may actually be the secondary purpose.


At least for HN, because it's not taking money from Australians, I don't think it's a concern. YC can tell the Australians to get bent and there's nothing they can do. Reddit might be more of a concern because it tries to convince people to buy stuff.

It's talking about Twitter, where you post content and Twitter forces other people's comments (retweets/replies) onto the same page as it.

I really hope they just block all the news sites from their platforms. Let's see how they like it when thier traffic dries up. From other reporting I've read the law does say they have to treat domestic and international news the same so it could cause an issue with that approach.

There was actually a study about an impact a news aggregator has on news consumption. It turns out an impact is noticable but small: around 10-20% for different metrics: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/working-papers...

The real newspapers (or what is left of them) can still be found offline in stores, so Google is not required to find them online.

I rarely google to find a serious publication. Perhaps it would be a good thing if Google stops indexing news sites.


Article states that they’ll be fined for doing that too.

then just turn off the CC and don't serve them at all.

We just found a legislative way to break the Google search monopoly - more countries pass this sort of "pay to play" barrier, and Google says no, and then there's space for competitors.

Wouldn't the competitors then have to do the same thing though, thereby reducing the incentive to compete?

It would bring up opportunity for alternative models for news instead of being tied to search/feed.

I can't imagine the population of any country would be too happy when google.com returns a "Service discontinued due to law blah blah blah" when they want to look up how to beat eggs.

Yeah, honestly, that's what I hope they do. The amount of entitlement and this holier than thou attitude among the media is pretty annoying. Figure out how to make money like any other business. And if you can't, we'll then I guess you don't matter that much.

This decision is crony capitalism at its worst.


An amusing angle on this situation. If you go back thirty or twenty years, it is hard to think of an industry better-positioned to capture the momentum of the internet than the news media.

(1) They had teams of people producing regular fresh content, to a high quality.

(2) They had existing subscriber bases, which could have been converted to other purposes (consider the online dating services offered by some of the UK newspapers.)

(3) They had existing economies of scale from business lines which were not dependent on the internet, buffering them against dot com downturns and the like.

(4) Several of them had other divisions producing other good content. e.g. motion picture rights.

(5) They had international presence, and internal connectivity.

(6) Many had existing consumer-connectivity through cable relationships.

Yet. None created geek-friendly workplaces, they were too tied to their cash cows, and they have done badly.


I would 100% support this mindset if tech giants paid taxes where they make their money. I don't know what the situation is like in Australia but in Europe it's pretty insane. You can't abuse the system on one side and then argue the "efficient market hypothesis" on the other.

Google&friends are not making money and competing "like any other business".


How does exploiting tax loopholes have anything to do with the success of news media? Arbitrary fines and taxes are one thing. Forcing Google and Facebook to help the news sets a completely new precedent.

Countries are competing in a market for tax revenue too. If a country wants more tax revenue from a business, they can either close the legal loopholes that allow the business to reduce the amount of tax that they pay or make their tax laws more competitive with those of other countries.

OMG, this is golden. It's a race to the bottom. It ends up completely destroying states and replacing them with corporations.

I like your comment, not sure if you are joking though. A few decades ago when I started reading William Gibson’s cyber punk sci-fi, I often wondered if the corporate run enclaves in his stories would anticipate real events.

> Google&friends are not making money and competing "like any other business".

I don't understand this. Can you explain, please?


Have a look at these. If you can afford to pay lawyers to set schemes up like this, then you are at a competitive advantage against businesses which pay regular tax.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_erosion_and_profit_shifti...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Irish_arrangement

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Sandwich

Take the billions of dollars that you've saved from BEPS and use it to subsidize your local products, or run ads attacking the competition, or taking them to court, or hire salespeople, or build new content. Simple.


Several big-enough companies use tax loopholes to avoid paying taxes or lobby the government themselves.

This is not specific to big tech though, it's a single point of failure of having a centralised government that is easily corrupted by rich corporations.


sorry, again, I'm not following you. How does the ineffectiveness of tax regimes mean that Google and friends aren't competing like a normal business?

Situation in Australia is that they pay zero.

look to the law MAKERS, not the law followers.

Right and say BMW, VW etc are not doing the exact same thing? There is trade imbalance between US and say Germany if both sides introduce equivalent measures it will hurt EU more than it hurts US.

BMW and VW are not doing the exact same thing. They pay taxes to the US IRS for their profits made in the US. The argument against Google and Facebook is based on their use of profit-shifting to avoid taxes on European profits.

> They pay taxes to the US IRS for their profits made in the US.

That's plain wrong. Every company only pays income tax in its country of residence. The only difference is that there might be a sales tax for physical goods.


I thought the foreign car companies in the US avoid a lot of taxes by paying a license fee for the cars back to their home country.

That's wrong. It's also well known, western companys pay no taxes for factorys in 3rd world countrys since ever. Even they produce real things in a country.

We heard that argument so often during the Brexit referendum. It turned out to be rubbish.

Are you seriously comparing size of UK market with the size of US market?

> And if you can't, we'll then I guess you don't matter that much.

This is not true for the media. A functioning, critical, and trustworthy media is very important to society.

Profit ≈ importance is just flat out wrong in general.

(Not saying I agree with this govt intervention)


I hear the media say this all around the world all the time, and they of course always mean themselves... But is it true? There are many and many independent reporters with their blogs and twitters (do we call that media?), independent news sites (that probably is media) that are not with the mainstream media on these legal requirements, and actually in my country the mainstream media is so corrupt a half of the population simply does not care about them and get their news from other sources, like blogs and twitter.

I'm not sure you understand what media is in this country. Its all garbage.

Even the "fair and unbiased" govt funded ABC is a total toothless joke.

https://youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=HtV-2X4BjQI


> I'm not sure you understand what media is in this country. Its all garbage.

> Even the "fair and unbiased" govt funded ABC is a total toothless joke.

> https://youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=HtV-2X4BjQI

I don't know much about the Australian media, but I do know a citation to a random youtube comedian does not convincingly support such a statement.


Thats fair, and I would question anyone getting all their news from the Daily show or last week tonight. Its incredibly biased.

Australia's problem is that our news orgs are corrupt to the core, every journo is afraid to go against Murdoch in any way shape or form their careers are ended if they do.

So here we are, with this "comedian," doing a better reporting job than pretty much every single outlet in the country. With very few exceptions.

Climate change protests https://youtube.com/watch?v=HTAzb7UbJ6M

Darling river fuck up https://youtube.com/watch?v=gNbSazIqVYA

Fatty mc fuck face https://youtu.be/WmJ7CSRRCDM

Misinformed journalism https://youtube.com/watch?v=3tTqyZQsG5A


They’re kinda doing this to themselves with the paywalls or account login walls (medium comes to mind). I haven’t read a NYT article in months.

Firefox containers are your friend.

Not when they force login to read.

Typical mainstream coverage of a tech story that glosses over all the detail, leaving everyone in this thread to speculate about all the details, such as which results it applies to and how will they distribute the revenue.

My 2p guess is it's all about snippets and any other displayed information which would stop the user proceeding to an external result. Some % of total revenue distributed to owners of the snippet content, though it would be hard to determine the breakdown even for a single result page.


> how will they distribute the revenue

There won't be any revenue. Ever since France implemented their version of the "meme tax", where a tax would be charged when websites would want to use news snippets, what search engines did was simply drop the snippets. Example:

https://www.bing.com/news/search?q=paris

Google doesn't seem to do this. It's unclear to me if they are paying this fee or just don't care.


The exposure draft doesn’t give Google/Facebook the right to opt out by “discriminating” against (ie. dropping) protected news sources. Refusing to comply with this could be punished with an infringement notice under Australian law. https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20Bill...

> The exposure draft doesn’t give Google/Facebook the right to opt out by “discriminating” against (ie. dropping) protected news sources.

It doesn't permit digital service corporations from discriminating against protected news sources on account of their participation in the system. It does seem to permit actions that affect all news sources equally.

However, more frustrating and worrisome to me is that the exposure draft doesn't seem to define what conduct by Google/etc triggers these provisions. Some clauses apply to news content "made available" by the platform, but there's no definition in this bill of what "made available" means.

That could be read to require some sort of hosting of the content (e.g., rehosting an article or using a long extract), or it could be read to include mere linking. That's a huge difference: Hacker News could be a 'digital platform service' under the latter definition, but not the former.


Yes,

The text of the law does not seem to cover this option.

> in comparison to other news content

They can stop showing news as such.


How will they determine what counts as "news"? Are there be significant penalties if whatever algorithm they come up with to decide what counts as "news" has any false negatives? If so, that might make "stop showing news" an unworkable approach.

It seems likely to me that Google will fight that part of it in court. Paying for the content...battle lost. Being forced to surface the content, not so much.

I mean, that's like the government saying that not only do you have to pay a toll when you use CityLink (okay, user pays) but it is mandatory to use that road as the only option, and that you must use it every day.

I really don't see how that can stop Google from dropping news from the search results completely. Or coming to an arrangement with Fairfax, where they pay a tiny amount, and nothing to NewsCorp.


Google and FB both argued that they send traffic worth of 200M to these publishers? What if they start charging for clicks? Earlier the argument was that they were doing it for free and not getting anything out of it. Now, since they have to pay, its only fair that they charge for the services (ie the traffic through clicks) they provide too

I am sure they will fight to minimise their costs one way or another. Rather than challenging the validity of the law, another strategy might be to submit to the arbitral process and come up with a strong argument that, for the purposes of section 52ZP(2)(b), the "benefit (whether monetary or otherwise) of the registered news business’ covered news content to the digital platform service" is negligible, and for (2)(d), any "remuneration amount would place an undue burden on the commercial interests of the digital platform service." https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20Bill...

If this is true, how do you enforce it? Send goons to California to beat it out of them? If Google has no presence in Australia they can simply block the whole country. Or replace the home page with a "Your country is out of order" 404.

Google has a significant presence in Australia, including an office, many employees, data centres, and bank accounts for accepting payments from Australian customers. It would be very unusual for a company like Google to blatantly violate Australian laws and refuse to pay the fines, so it’s unclear how the Australian government would respond if that happened.

How do they have no encryption in Australia and yet Google still have offices there? Seems very strange to me, don't even know how it works.

What's the word for racketeering, but when the government does it?

Taxation.

So I'd wager the approach was successful, though not necessarily the desired results. However, if the rest of the world followed suit, they can't host snippets anymore and they'll be forced to pay or give up that feature, no?

Doubt it would happen, because if suddenly almost every news publication refuses to allow their news snippets to show up on Google, those publications that decide to go against the grain and personally allow their news snippets to show up on Google stand to gain a lot from it.


Yeah, can anyone explain to me how FB/G are actually accused of giving paid content away for free? All the Murdoch content is behind paywalls in Aus. Is it literally just headlines and the free 3 sentences or whatever a scraper/aggregator would display?

Isn't that the perennial problem even with sites like HN? A significant amount of people derive value from reading headlines and short snippets of content?

Isn't this also a method pay-walled sites use to get subscribers? Otherwise, why not just block Google in robots.txt?

They still want to be found. They just also want to be paid for the privilege of being listed on a search result page.

Google should just start putting a huge red box around pay walled articles. It would basically indicate "don't bother with this site"

As a user, i would actually love if Google had that feature natively. I assume there is a way to have that functionality already by using some browser extensions. But a native implementation by Google would be a killer feature imo.

This is the best way to do it: just paywall your articles.

The internet made people believe everything is free. But free news is either propaganda or a disguised ad.


The problem is that they all have their own account management. I'd be ok with paying a subscription service that gave access to several sites and took care of distributing revenue per usage, but managing dozens of subscriptions is a hassle.

Pressreader offers something a bit like that.

I don't think that is a fair assessment, there is also free news that is openly ad-supported i.e. there are ads surrounding the news on the page, but the content itself is not advertising anything

Newspapers are actually not supported by ads, that was always merely a bonus. Most of their income came from subscriptions. Every serious journalist medium is going back to paywalls/subs. If people don't think its worth the money journalism should die but I think it will survive.

Unfortunately this is completely false. Biggest contributor used to be real estate, but other advertising was a big contributor.

It's not that they're giving paid content away for free, it's that they're extracting copyrighted content and profiting from it (without compensating the copyright holder).

I don't know if it technically falls afoul of existing legislation but clearly the old laws aren't really up to the job of regulating that. They weren't designed for it.


> It's not that they're giving paid content away for free, it's that they're extracting copyrighted content and profiting from it (without compensating the copyright holder).

Wouldn't that imply that they simply have to pay to be displayed as it would be advertisement? Ergo they will get removed and not get any advertisement anymore as a result.


Didn't Spain try to do the same thing with Google News, which just ended up with them shutting down the product in Spain?

https://support.google.com/news/publisher-center/answer/9609...


The article says that European countries "tried and failed" to rein in the tech giants. Although I'm not sure if shutting down Google News is actually "tried and failed" so much as "tried and succeeded, but not according to first preference".

I mean, if you can't go to google news to get your news, maybe you do go directly to the website of some major news company (and get a monoculture).


While it's not the selling point politically, I think those lobbying for things like this are very much happy with any monoculture that results.

With services like Google News, people can get exposed to news from various media outlets, but by killing it through lobbying for absurd regulatory burdens on aggregators the well known larger outlets can choke out access to their competition. This of course is hampered to some extent by the reality that many will just rely on other users posting on social media for news updates, and if that too is choked out through regulation on platforms, many will probably just skip the news or reduce their consumption in favor of other things like entertainment.


I used to use Google News to find different articles from different companies whenever a news story interested me. It was good to get often very different points of view.

I now just spend a little time on Apple News+ to skim what is happening. While I am locking myself more into a mono culture just looking at US news, I decided that I needed to greatly decrease the amount of time I spent on the news every day.

The world situation is what it is. I try to accept the world as-is, invest as little time as possible understanding the world and concentrate on my own productivity, fellowship with friends and family, and generally appreciating culture and nature.

News watching is an addiction that too many of my friends have.


Don't remember the details, but I know smaller publishers were hit pretty hard by Google News closing in Spain.

Danish news have never been on Google News, even though Google News launched in Sweden and Norway. Back around 2005-2006, the Danish newspapers fought hard to forbid "systematic deep linking" to their news.

We're still able to find Danish news by Google search though, it's only the aggregation that Danish media is afraid of, as they are afraid to loose out on a lot of income on the ads they show while people browse their websites.


Yup. I was in Spain from March to May. It was annoying to be in the habit of typing "news.google.com" when trying to get news on COVID-19. It wasn't hard to bypass, but it was annoying.

It wasn't for me it's hard, in reverse. I no longer live in Spain, haven't for 10 years. But every time I go to Google News I get the message of it not being available in my country. My primary language in my Google account isn't Spanish, my address isn't in Spain, my Google Wallet has a non Spanish card on it, so on and so forth, yet I can only access Google News when I'm logged out.

A similar thing happened to me. All of Google's products (Search, Maps, Translate, etc.) come up for me in Dutch.

The weird part is, I am not Dutch, do not speak Dutch, and have never been to the Netherlands.


Plot twist... You live in the north of Belgium & speak Flemish.

Off topic but I had the same issue. Did you change your Google payment profile? (which has nothing to do with all the profile addresses you can set in various places)

https://support.google.com/paymentscenter/answer/9028746?hl=...

Because you can't actually change your country on your Google payment profile. You need to create a new one and then switch the new one.

I had to do this to switch my US account to an EU account with the EU GDPR user consent options. Your Google account is tied to the payment profile country AFAIK.


Already done, payment profile isn't Spain either. The fact that Google user support is literal black hole made me just accept this fact.

I like how they recommend the Mexican edition instead

Which makes no sense, except for international news... And maybe not even that

I'm confused about who the news belongs to. I always have it in my head that if your name's in the news, then the news should be paying you. Because it's your news and they're taking it and selling it as their product. But then they always say that they're helping you, and that's true too, but still, if people didn't give the news their news, and if everybody kept their news to themselves, the news wouldn't have any news. So I guess you should pay each other. But I haven't figured it out fully yet.

-- Andy Warhol


Journalism is printing what someone else does not want published; everything else is public relations.

-- George Orwell (possibly wrongly attributed)



Someone with enough clout and reach should start a mass movement spanning the world. There will be lots of supporters. Clearly people who create news (and legally should be considered owners of that news) should be compensated by publishers who profit from that news. It will have far reaching social impact. It will provide monetary benefits to people who decide to sell their news stories and also solve the problem of online privacy. Point is sports bodies have long argued that they own the content they create. Why is the same not true for individuals as well? Of course politics will have to be made an exception.

Who has to pay whom for reporting on a congressional scandal?

The reporter needs to get paid. Usually a publisher will pay them and publish the story. Everyone else running the story is a leech. Places sharing headlines and linking to the proper publisher are usually helpful.

But the reporter didn't create the news, they just reported it. The news was created by whoever was involved in the scandal, so they should be paid.

Says the guy who took other people’s images and sold them...

You should read his bio.

every artist does that. he just did it in a straight, sorryless way. hence the concept in his conceptual art.

> every artist does that.

Um, no.


Clearly he’s making a joke...

Andy Warhol wouldn't be on HN I guess.

Warhol had a fascinating perspective on mass-produced pop culture, having enough insight to pretty much game the system

That's why Macintosh and he was a perfect match, one took pictures the other took windows-es (xerox) ;)

I don't think anyone has figured it out yet, because if you aren't paying for news, then you are the product and not the consumer, and yet most news is still free.

...or maybe they have figured it out.


Ok, I am not paying for reading the news feed on HackerNews. I suppose you aren't paying either. Are both of us HackerNews' products?

Actually I think hacker news is the Google in this scenario. They are profiting off aggregating the content of other news outlets. I’m not sure it’s right/wrong or how it’s going to work but if Australia says you make money off aggregating their news you must pay some legislated amount, I’m not sure I agree with the precedent of that

Have you stopped to think what YCombinator is getting out of paying the bills to keen this site running?

Is it costly for them? I assumed they thought it was good, cheap PR.

>Are both of us HackerNews' products?

At least the product supporter ;)


>Are both of us HackerNews' products?

Yes. We the users of HN are product - both individually, and also as a market segment, and also as a smart[0] crowd.

From [1],

  Y Combinator provides seed funding for startups.
To Y Combinator, the HN is both entry to the sales (investment) funnel, and a PR machine. And also early opinion & commentary, early beta-testing, load testing [2], and more.

That is not to detract from the (very probable) angle of pg & team wishing to render a public service for the public good :-)

--

[0] the occasional bad thread notwithstanding ;-)

[1] https://www.ycombinator.com/about/#whatwedo

[2] aka HN hug of death


Lots of the comments here are criticising this decision on the basis of News Corporation's very clear political involvement. While I share their sentiment regarding News Corporation and their blatant partisanship, I would like to highlight that Facebook is not an apolitical entity. My view is that anyone concerned about the blatant partisan politics of the Australian news media should be equally concerned about the political overreach of big tech. The latter being far more equipped for the propagation of information benefiting their own agenda.

The two aren't comparable. News Corporation is political in the sense that they effectively decide who wins the next election in countries like Australia and the UK and all the political parties have to seek out their favour and pursue policies that meet with their approval to win. Facebook is political in the sense that they refused to use their power to tilt the last US presidential election towards the candidate the mainstream media wanted. That the media considers the latter to be the threat to democracy says a lot about who they think should actually control the country.

It would be extremely foolish to think that Facebook is an organisation without its own political agenda. Even this article itself contains an extremely politicised statement from the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, criticising the Australian government for their intervention in the free market. These companies make decisions like any other to maximise their power and profit. Unlike most companies however, they're in a position to use information to leverage their position. I presume your post is talking about Clinton?

Alphabet Inc. has made almost $27mil in campaign contributions, including contributing $1.6mil to Clinton's campaign in 2016. They've spent almost $89mil in lobbying since 1990. These big tech companies obviously have a stake in our democracy and choose to take an active role. Thinking they're impartial is incredibly naive.

> That the media considers the latter to be the threat to democracy says a lot about who they think should actually control the country.

I think they're both a threat to democracy. I believe that the Australian government should do all it can to limit the influence that multinational corporations have on our local political landscape, categorically. The only thing I fear more than partisan local media organisations, are partisan international media organisations that wield even more power. I don't for one second trust Facebook's own hidden agenda any more than I trust News Corporation's.


> That the media considers the latter to be the threat to democracy says a lot about who they think should actually control the country.

A man who, when asked about whether or not he will accept the next election's result, responds with 'We'll see', is objectively a pretty serious threat to democracy.

Simply voicing that opinion (and never following through on it) makes him a threat to, at minimum the public perception of the legitimacy of democracy - since democracy is one of those things that only works when people believe in it.


He knows how to play the media that's for certain. For a grand total of $0 he was able to have his face on television and plant a seed of doubt against his opponents integrity. So much so that all some people can talk about is Trump. Meanwhile Bloomberg spent record amounts on campaigning and all I remember was that he was the stop and frisk guy

> they effectively decide who wins the next election in countries like Australia and the UK

Big claims require big evidence, and here you haven't given any.


Read about political history in those countries. The Cameron govt's press department was run by people from News Corp. Blair's meeting with Murdoch pre-97 was infamous. Cameron's meetings pre-2010 are infamous. Brown had numerous personal, and secret, meetings with Murdoch (and failed to convince Murdoch of his merits).

I don't go in for the conspiracy theories around Murdoch at all btw. But it is fairly clear that he has a substantial amount of contact with/control over politicians...it is just factually true (something that isn't obvious to people outside the UK, journalists are heavily involved in politics in the UK...going from journalism into politics and then back again or into PR/lobbying is done frequently).


None of your points are evidence of the earlier claim.

Your post follows the pattern of the earlier one that I replied to: you echo the mantra that Murdoch has control over politicians, and you again leap from claim into statement of truth without evidence, "it is just factually true".

Occasional meetings with politicians is not evidence of control, nor the higher claim given earlier in the thread, of deciding the outcome of elections.


Completely spot on. They are both two sides of failure: one creating the garbage and the other that takes center-stage in its distribution.

What the Australian government can do about News Corp becomes a question of media freedom, whereas Facebook and Google peddling it doesn't introduce that ethical or legal complication.

I could be wrong here though -- happy to be corrected.


Isn't this something the publishers can just stop with a robots.txt? Or do they want Google to continue to link to them and just charge them for it? I hope Google just drops them from the index.

It's definitely the latter. They still want to be indexed of course and I'd assume they'd rather be included in Google News and paid for it rather than not included.

I hope Google and Facebook recognize the value they get from news publishers and understand the value society gets from journalism and they do more to support that journalism that benefits everybody.

I recognize the value I get from news publishers and try to support them. It would never in a million years occur to me that, when I tell someone "here's this neat article I read about new studies on the minimum wage", I owe the newspaper for being allowed to do that.

Sure. If telling people about the news is making you money, why not share some of the profit from doing that with the newspaper? If you don't do that, aren't you in effect killing the golden goose?

Do you give money to the construction workers who built the road every time you drive to work? Even if it is taken for granted as a common good doesn't make the monetization model wise or justified.

A taxation model by "lottery" which randomly takes everything from an unlucky N people a year would work terrible in so many ways. Wanting a funding model that isn't terrible doesn't mean they don't want a functioning government.


> Do you give money to the construction workers who built the road every time you drive to work?

In a way, yes. There are lots of usage taxes around driving that help fund road construction.


Haha, I went to the websites of the guys pushing for this. News.com.au

Hoo boy am I glad I don’t get value from that. Oof. Dang. Look at that. Oh boy.


Is this about copyright? Aka "If you copy more then X words, your violate the authors copyright" so that one has to negotiate with the author about copying more then X words?

Or do they force Google and Facebook to publish those snippets and pay for them? Making media kind of state controlled? If so, who decides which news have to be included?

Or what is this about?


Reading Google's point of view on what happened in Spain they had yet another model over there:

"Legislation in Spain requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not."

https://support.google.com/news/publisher-center/answer/9609...

Maybe it is similar to that? I wonder who defines what "news" are? If part of this text I am writing ends up quoted on a website owned by someone in Spain, I would be forced by law to send them an invoice?


No, copyright union will send the invoice on behalf of you, just as in music royalties. They will have to pay the copyright union, even if you choose not to receive it yourself.

It’s about News Corporation’s exceptionally close ties to the party that currently holds the majority in Australian federal parliament. This grants them the opportunity to use Australia as a licensing model test venue, as well as hoping to normalise the idea as acceptable rather than farcical in at least one western laissez-faire capitalist democracy in the hope this can be leveraged into others.

Also about journalism's complete failure to adapt to a changing business landscape and find a different business model.

In one way, this is good. It will fail miserably, and demonstrate to newspaper CEO's that "Big Tech" is not stealing their revenues. Then they can move on to try something different.


If the system fails, and consequently newspapers fail, while tech companies thrive, how will that demonstrate to newspaper CEOs that big tech isn’t stealing their revenue?

Because newspapers are failing anyway, and tech companies are thriving anyway. So if this system fails, nothing changed.

If this system works, and suddenly Australian newspapers are viable while newspapers elsewhere are still struggling, then it will prove that forcing tech to pay for content works, and that therefore tech was probably stealing media's revenue.


It doesn't seem necessary for tech to be stealing revenue from publishing for this system to function. If I hold a gun to your head and say give me a thousand bucks, and you do, I'll be a thousand bucks richer, whether or not I was stealing your revenue.

What it'd prove is that regulatory capture works.

It's about registered news companies being able to force Google/FB to bargain/arbitration about revenues from displaying their news on the platform.

I have an issue with that people consume news from these sites through recommendations algorithms. Recommendations algorithms just suggest news that you might be interested in, so you miss reading the rest. Ie you consume news through filter bubbles. A filter bubble is where you see the world through your personal curated filter glasses. I would argue that such filtering creates polarized world views where you get less accommodating for views which does not match your own filtered world view. In summary these platforms may in some sense undermine democracy where we respect other with different view points than our own. Plus it’s essential for democracy that we pay for local news journalists which dig and investigate local politicians decisions. Local news feed national news networks which in turn feed international news.

Filter bubble article mentioning news filtering https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filter_bubble

Article that social media may cause polarized views https://scholar.harvard.edu/sounman_hong/political-polarizat...

Local journalism https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/jul/28/local-journali...


> For every A$100 spent on online advertising in Australia, excluding classifieds, nearly a third goes to Google and Facebook, according to Frydenberg.

This from the Treasurer of Australia.

I hope he understands that the same holds true for every A$1000 spent, too.

But the local Murdoch outpost's eagerness for this to happen certainly explains the motivation here.


FYI for those interested this is the announcement of the policy on the site of the organisation that wrote the policy https://www.accc.gov.au/focus-areas/digital-platforms/news-m...

This seems absurd. Companies typically pay Google to drive traffic through ads, but in this case they are legislating that Google pay them for driving traffic? This sounds like the store paying the customer to take its product. Wouldn't the obvious solution be for Google to just stop listing these news sites? Am I missing something here?

You can make a case that Google wouldn't make any money if they didn't have content. They have trained the market into believing we need them and to pay them unholy amounts of money to be on top of all search results. But without content and search results, no one uses Google.

Google has also started to show generated answers/summaries in the search to make the user not visit the external site.

Answers and image search should be opt in for copright holder.


Right, but site owners are already able to opt out of being indexed by google, and almost all choose to be indexed.

Business idea: Get GPT-3 to churn out newsy-sounding stories for next to nothing and host them in Australia where the government forces other companies to pay you for them. Free money.

Google will probably eliminate Google News for Australians. Why exactly would Google pay money for a service which earns nothing?

This is not about Google News, this includes Google Search.

> Mr Sims said if Google took a similar approach to its actions in Spain when it was asked to pay for news on its Google News tab, it would be irrelevant because the code covered news content in Google's primary function, search.

(from the sibling commentor's link: https://www.afr.com/companies/media-and-marketing/facebook-a...)

I can't wait to see what will happen. I highly doubt Google will pay the black mail. Will they just shut off Google for Australia?


> Will they just shut off Google for Australia?

And lose the billions of revenue over a few million in news payments?

Of course not. Good on the Australian Government for putting them in a position where they actually have to contribute rather than taking their toys home and pouting


From the article linked in the comment:

> News Corp has suggested the number is closer to $1 billion.

I highly doubt these companies will fork over a billion dollars each to just stay in Australia. Australia needs Google more than Google needs Australia.


I'm sure we'll survive somehow without it.

Murdoch's empire is fading fast in Australia. The Australian, Foxtel, the print papers are all on their last legs. Their streaming offering Binge is laughably bad - it's only 1080p and works on barely any devices. They could well be done here too.

All upside, as far as I see it.


Google is not a superior search engine anymore and you don't really need it.

From a privazy perspective it would be awesome for Google to block Australia like some US news sites block european users bc. of GDPR.


Are other search engines not bound by the same law?

Despite the downvotes, I think It's kind of true tho. I don't think a country will collapse without google.

The big publishers are asking for $600m to $1b (roughly 10% - 15%) of Google and Facebook's local revenue. I doubt news earns them anywhere near that amount.

https://www.afr.com/companies/media-and-marketing/facebook-a...


Doesn't the news you choose to read tell Google a lot about you?

Google is very good about shuttering projects that doesn't make them money. I'm sure if they're still running the service. It's making them money some how.


Brand recognition? Customer goodwill? Not everything needs to be outright profitable. Google has a lot of money to spend on sending small gifts in random directions. Source: as a Googler I got paid to literally "go find some vulnerable projects on Github and send a PR to patch them"[1]. Google does not make money in any way from things like that, but keeps doing them, just because they can.

[1]: https://opensource.googleblog.com/2017/03/operation-rosehub....


Nowhere near as much as shopping searches. It's kind of hard to monetize an interest in (say) Singaporean politics or space rockets.

It's not that hard to monetize interest in damn near _anything_ (as long as it is not clearly illegal, I guess). For the two examples you've posted, maybe advertise flights/vacations to Singapore if you show a persistent interest in Singapore, and market model rockets, space flight simulator toys, really all sorts of consumer-grade commodity products adjacent to the space industry.

They already "pay money" to develop and maintain it, you think it has zero value for them? It is a loss leader to keep you stuck on the Google brand and make Google the default for every type of search. That has enormous value. And this probably applies to Google search as well. They will just simply fight this until it goes away, because it will have implications for all other content, because why would news be special? What about blogs? What about any other original content?

But I think this could be bad for competition too. How can someone enter the market for search if you have to jump through so many hoops? Google will try to work a deal that works well for them and tries to lock out competition as well by making the startup cost high.

My hope is that it ends up forcing them to be more friendly to publishers in how they send them traffic and how they appropriate their content. But I don't think money should change hands to let them use the content.


most of the news sites will use some form of programmatic ads which will involve Google in some form inevitably.

Google search is basically all "news" now for way too many keywords, due to their high rankings for "fresh content". I really wouldn't mind if that disappeared entirely. The product would be better.

Facebook would also be much more pleasant.


The recency bias is painful. If you read a recent article and want more information on some background from the story, the results are mostly a flood of more articles on the recent story, with no new info. Your best bet is to find one of the new articles that actually cited and linked to some older work.

Large technology companies are creating large market failures, one of which is the erosion of the print media business model. With Facebook and Google favouring trending content over high value content state intervention is probably necessary to save the industry.

I remember back when the music business thought that pirated music would ruin them and forced governments to put an extra tax on blank cassettes and CDs.

Seems like it's based on the same concept. Newspapers are loosing readers and they are blaming google and facebook.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_copying_levy


And of course if the legal system was slightly fair, if the levy is being applied then private copying should have been made instantly legal. Not to mention you're just charging everybody, regardless of the use they will make of the media

But of course the lobbying is strong


I wonder how the quoted "royalty-style system" would work. If it's anything like reverse ads where Google and Facebook pay per click/impression, what's to stop them from simply boycotting Australian news sites?

Apparently they'll have to boycott all news sites. I hope they are able to challenge this law in the courts.

> "They can't discriminate between international and Australian news. So they can't turn off Australian news and just use international news. That's discrimination. This is a mandatory code, the platforms must participate. They could stop showing news media on their platforms completely – that is, no local or international media – but short of that, they are compelled."

https://www.afr.com/companies/media-and-marketing/facebook-a...


I think this is going to happen/has happened in Europe. It hurts publishers most of all, IMHO.

Don't be fooled. This is merely a ploy from a conservative government to keep Rupert relevant. He owns 70% of the print journalism here.

Your suggestion aside, I find it odd that people call the Australian Liberal Party conservative.

They banned firearms, introduced the GST and made same-sex marriage legal. They've now introduced the largest welfare package in Australian history.

In comparison to most governments in the world, they're probably considered center-left at worst.


Let's not pretend the liberal party is some bastion of LGBT rights, gay marriage was only passed after the politicians in Australia dragged each other through the mud for so long that the question was eventually put to a non binding plebiscite that they followed through on.

Well at least they finally did it, each labor prime minister has been against it until they left office and miraculously started supporting it.

> In comparison to most governments in the world

Technically probably correct, but it seems like the wrong comparison?

Compare them to the G20 or OECD or similar.

The Australian Liberal Party are pretty practical, they keep their nutters out of power, they didn't put forward a comedy prime minister, and they have a sense of duty towards the country.

But, they're definitely a conservative party. The Treasurer cited Reagan and Thatcher as his inspirations this week.


The term "conservative" is relative. What is considered "conservative" by the standards of one society may be considered "liberal" by the standards of another.

I think part of the confusion is that some wrongly judge the Australian Liberal Party by American political standards. Conservative parties in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, often make decisions which would be considered "liberal" in an American context, but are actually centrist (or sometimes even right-wing) in the context of their own countries. A good example is the Medicare levy surcharge was introduced by the Howard government, to penalise middle and high income earners that don't take out private health insurance; in the Australian context that was a conservative decision (it was designed to prop up private health insurers, and many on the Australian left viewed it as a threat to the public health system and a form of corporate welfare), yet when the US adopted more or less the same policy (an insurance mandate) as part of Obamacare, that was a liberal one.

The other issue is the ambiguity between "classical liberalism" vs "social liberalism"/"left liberalism"/"modern liberalism". The term "Liberal" in the name of the Australian Liberal Party is a reference to the former not the later. Classical liberalism has a huge amount of overlap with many versions of conservatism.

And even "conservatism" comes in many different forms, and different forms of conservatism can lead to very different policies. In the US, some conservatives argue for an aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East; others argue that the US should stay out of other countries' business. Both viewpoints are conservative, just the product of different versions of conservatism (neoconservative vs palaeoconservative). Similarly, while mainstream US conservatism combines "economic conservatism" (low and flat taxation, small and balanced government budget, low regulation, free trade, etc) with social conservatism, a significant minority of American social conservatives oppose economic conservatism (e.g. distributism, Catholic social teaching, Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative magazine, etc)


> Conservative parties in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, often make decisions which would be considered "liberal" in an American context, but are actually centrist (or sometimes even right-wing) in the context of their own countries.

This is definitely true for fiscal issues or social welfare, and I think the example you provided is quite appropriate here, but compared to many places (particularly in the part of Europe where I live) I think the reverse is true about the US for social issues.


On certain social issues the US is more liberal than a number of European countries. The US achieved same-sex marriage nationally in 2015 (before Austria, Germany and Finland did), but five years later it still hasn't happened in Italy or Switzerland, and in a number of Central and Eastern European countries the popular and government attitude towards it is positively hostile.

Similarly, despite abortion being such a political hot potato in the US, Roe v Wade ensures that US abortion laws are on the whole more liberal than those of a number of European countries.

On the other hand, if you look at an issue like the death penalty, the US retains it federally and in a majority of states, while every European country has officially abolished it except for Belarus. Even in Russia, whose government often takes quite conservative stances on social issues such as LGBT rights, it is officially abolished (although you could argue that the frequency of extrajudicial killings in Russia means that true abolition has not yet been achieved in practice.) And, death penalty aside, the US approach to criminal law is far more punitive than that of many European countries, and US policing also tends to be a bit of an outlier in terms of aggressiveness and brutality.

I think on social issues it really depends on which particular social issues you are most concerned with.


Same-sex marriage is at least planned in Switzerland. However, I think taking this sole issue as a measure of overall LGBTQ acceptance is too simplistic. Switzerland has had civil unions since 2007 and just recently, about 60% of Swiss people voted for a law explicitly outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Switzerland is traditionally more slow-moving in terms of laws because of its insistence of making sure legislative changes are accepted by the population at large (with its initiatives and referenda), whereas in the US and many other countries, interested parties anywhere on the political spectrum can often quickly decide an issue if they happen to be in power.

This doesn't mean that the general attitudes of the population towards LGBTQ in Switzerland are or ever were worse than in the US. I have a feeling, that in general, attitudes tend to be very diverse in the US, with some areas / circles being totally in support and others in very strong opposition, whereas Switzerland tends to be a bit more homogeneous. Switzerland certainly doesn't have such a strong undercurrent of evangelical voters for which things like LGBTQ and traditional marriage (or also abortion etc.) are such a major driving factor (sure, those people exist, but they tend to exist more at the fringes). I also don't recall any debates about bakers not wanting to bake cakes for gay couples or any of that sort of nonsense.

That's not to claim that there is no homophobia in Switzerland, there certainly is. But I can't really believe that it's worse than the US.


The firearm ban is still being challenged by one half of the coalition (The national party).

They were dragged kicking and screaming across the line for same-sex marriage.

The GST reduced the tax payable on luxury items, so in essence was a more regressive sales tax.


It's got multiple personalities, which are at battle with each other.

The party was founded as a party of social liberals (with conservative economics), but for the last 3 decades has been eaten from the inside by a socially conservative wing resulting in a misnomer. The conservatives could have their own party, but the Liberal name and the remaining perception of liberalism attracts votes, as shown by the "Australian Conservatives" party which broke away from the Liberals and couldn't attract enough votes to survive.


Liberal does not mean left-wing. Thankfully, that particular Americanism hasn’t penetrated into Australia yet.

Well, it did back in the 18th century when the left/right split was first named and well into the 19th - it represented the split between monarchists and opponents in the French assembly after the revolution, and so the liberals made up most of the original left.

You see the after-effects in e.g. Norway, where the liberal party is literally named "Venstre" ("Left")

It's just that most places the liberals have been firmly out-flanked on the left since.


Yes, you're right. I concede that point.

“Conservative” is consistently used to describe the right-wing party in a two-party system. It’s not a coherent ideology.

How is introducing a regressive tax that removed other duties, levies and taxes "left-wing"?

How is being the only major party with MPs voting against same-sex marriage despite the public plebisciting for it "left-wing"?

I'll give you the other two though, but on the welfare package that Labor introduced following the GFC they (and of course News Corp) would not shut up about how terrible a thing it was, despite Australia being the only country to come out of the crisis mostly unscathed.


I didn't say they're left-wing so I have no idea who you're quoting there. I just said that they're not conservative, and I stand behind that.

On the plebiscite/postal survey though: the government in Australia isn't bound by the results of it. It's just a survey. The fact that the Liberal Party put the result into law[0] within 48 hours is their own doing, submitted by an LGBT member of the party no less.

A conservative party would fundamentally not do this.

You can scroll down in the linked Wikipedia article to see how everyone voted. You won't exactly see significant, genuine opposition. There was arguably more opposition from the left-leaning alternative, the Australian Labor Party, that had the most people abstain in the senate.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_Amendment_(Definition...


This is a pretty misleading comment that ignores much of the context of the vote as well as the different parties that vote for it. It's easy to point to the vote totals of two parties (missing out the Greens and Nationals votes of course, because that doesn't fit the narrative) and skip the months of complaining from the Liberal Party before they demanded an antiquated and expensive (AU$80 million) plebiscite. The Liberal Party was forced by the voters to pass this amendment, and they certainly didn't do it without a fight.

> and skip the months of complaining from the Liberal Party

It was clear the economic right faction of the Liberals wanted a mandate from the people so that they could push past the socially conservative faction.

They were being blocked for months by the left - because it benefited the greens and labor politically to position the Liberals as anti-LGBT.


Wasn't it a Labor prime minister that called the Senate 'unrepresentative swill'?

> A conservative party would fundamentally not do this.

Experiences in Canada, Austria, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand (of particular relevance to Australia), Sweden, the UK where conservatives in power had at least some if not most of their representatives vote LGBT marriage in is evidence to the contrary. Or is it that they aren't really "conservative" either by some arbitrary yardstick?

And to say that they allowed its members to vote how they actually always wanted to vote (now there's a democratic deficit) within '48 hours' after delaying it for months and toddling around with a voluntary postal survey for BASIC CIVIL RIGHTS for months and months after years of intransigence is highly disingenuous.


I mean, it's in the article:

> Media companies including News Corp Australia, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NWSA.O), lobbied hard for the government to force the U.S. companies to the negotiating table amid a long decline in advertising revenue.


I’ve long been a proponent—as both a user and an advocate of these companies’ interests—of paid premium (ad-free, tracker-free, priority support) tiers for the “Internet essentials,” i.e., Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. There is, I believe, a surprisingly sizable (and rapidly growing) contingent of these platforms’ respective user bases willing to pay for privacy and user experience, and by insisting so stubbornly on maintaining a uniformly ad-subsidized model, without so much as even experimenting with subscription tier offerings, these companies are leaving billions of dollars a year in additional revenue on the table.

Perhaps the increasing cost of supply-side content will finally spur a rethinking of these platforms’ fundamental business models. Here’s hoping…


> paid premium (ad-free, tracker-free, priority support) tiers

Does that risk making privacy only available for those with the means to pay for it?


That's the wrong way to frame it.

A product has to be paid for somehow. You could just as easily think of "paid premium" as the default, similar to the way you pay for a physical newspaper, magazine, etc.

Or you can pay by giving up your privacy instead. It's your choice.

Why shouldn't people who want to give up their privacy in exchange for personalized ads be allowed to?


I think that abrowne’s comment is certainly valid—and it gets at the crux of perhaps the best (only?) argument against experimentation with paid premium tiers: it’ll work. If these companies are raking in billions off of [choose your spin: up-selling/extorting] millions of Americans, there’s a likely insurmountable degree of institutional incentive and inertia towards maintaining the status quo as it relates to U.S. privacy protections, eliminating any hope of regulatory intervention to raise baseline protections for all Americans.

His/her comment also illuminates the most substantive tangible risk to a company that chooses to experiment with paid premium tiers—as alluded to above, the issue is highly sensitive to framing, and the program’s reception hinges substantially on how it’s presented and marketed from the outset. It would require only the slightest of ornamental alterations and no change whatsoever in substance to recolor the very same proposition as “a cynical extortion and profiteering scheme—and perverse defilement of the fundamental human right to privacy—intended only to line the coffers of America’s wealthiest corporations at the expense of its poorest and most vulnerable citizens.” Indeed, mental gymnastics aren’t necessary to achieve a cognitive dissonance of diametric proportions on this issue—a mere logical tiptoe will suffice to traverse the universe.


> A product has to be paid for somehow.

Yes, but maybe businesses like Facebook shouldn't exist in their current shape given the amount of data required to make them profitable? Is the return worth the cost?

> Why shouldn't people who want to give up their privacy in exchange for personalized ads be allowed to?

Of course, but how many people are educated on what it actually means? How many people know that Google is an advertising business, not "just a search engine"?

We all know that the incentives of companies like this are not compatible with consent. Stronger regulatory actions and waaaay more emphasis on education is prob. the best we have at the moment.


> Is the return worth the cost?

That's for consumers to decide.

> how many people are educated on what [privacy] actually means?

Are 99% of consumers suffering any actual harm? They see better personalized ads, and yes, people are mostly aware of how internet ads "follow" you because we've all shopped for something and then seen a billion ads for it.

There are absolutely scary areas of privacy. Worries that your info will be used to determine insurance rates is addressed by legislation, so not a problem. And if you have real reasons for anonymity (civil rights, protests, politics, corporate, etc.) then you're already presumably educated on that and taking anti-tracking measures already.

But for the vast majority of people, their educated decision is to use free services in exchange for personalized ads. They see it as a deal or else they wouldn't be doing it.


In a sense, sure.

But note that this is an argument against all trade.


I was thinking more as an argument against freely-distributed products/services with a big negative downside for the user/consumer.

We don't allow an electric company to offer a "premium service tier" with a line installed to your house and a "free tier" for people who want to climb a pole and attach their own cable — even if there are a small number people could do this safely.

Now this could lead some people not to be able to afford, say, paid-only email, but then there could be options for people who can't pay for email, like a government program or non-profit organizations, just like there is for people who can't afford their electric bills. A church or other community group could even provide email to their members if you don't want it to be a government program, for example.


Some of the most interesting part is not even about paying. For example, they must notify the news providers of algorithmic changes 28 days in advance before making them, and enable the news organisation to "filter or remove" comments on their content.

It is oddly self-contradictory as it both states that a digital platform may not discrimminate b/w a "registered news organisation" and non-registered news org, but also mandates a whole raft of areas where it must discrimminate and give special consideration to a "registered news organisastion". This almost seems like a legal trap so they are in violation no matter what they do.

Interestingly, when all else fails, the arbitration panel must make a decision that is "in the public interest" - which seems to open a loophole where Google / Facebook could argue that the value of free / open information is more in the public interest than supporting proprietary news organisation to paywall their content. It would be hilarious if it backfired, though I am sure the arbitration panel will be carefully constructed to ensure it is not sympathetic to tech companies.

See: https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20Bill...


This looks a lot like what France Press did in 2007: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_News#EU_copyright_and_d...

Why doesn't this incentivize Facebook/Google to create their own news service, with reporters and all? That would certainly be a bleak outcome.

I'm wondering if this will cause a further reduction in traffic to certain Murdoch publications. The only profitable parts of their newspaper divisions seem to be centered around gambling.

To be clear, this is about snippets that are displayed and lets users consume the content without ever clicking the link to visit the page?

How is Google normally handling the fact that what they display in excerpts is copyrighted material? Do they just assume their snippet is short enough to be fair use everywhere?

And couldn’t these sites just detect the crawlers and display article bodies that are a smaller, (0-10 words body)?


You can choose whether Google can use snippets or how big they are.

What does that mean for the regulation in question? That it’s unnecessary because there is a technical solution? Or that it’s not written in good faith because they know it’s possible to solve technically but want funding from Google rather than actually solve it?

They should comply and just delist all News Corp content.

Exactly what happened for google news in Spain.

I suppose this includes the search engine. So if these people don’t want their thing to turn up in text results, why not update the robots.txt and close shop the next month?

I have no sympathy for Google and even less for Facebook. But that’s a shitty argument to make. It makes me want to create a client side google news clone, but that actually steal all the article content and remove all ads. Try blocking that.


Another flailing grasp at new media as Rupert Murdoch's tabloid empire loses its grip on the future.

I am only disappointed that our government would be complicit.

Make no mistake, I am no new media fan boy. In fact I hope this has the side effect of cleaning up the misinformation that spins around Facebook et al. But it is still sad to see such an obvious manipulation of our government.


The Australian media landscape is a highly unethical duopoly that undermines democracy. And the alternative seems to be people getting their "news" from wellness gurus and radio shock jocks.

On the one hand News Corporation and Fairfax Media can rot in hell, but I'm almost as afraid of what would happen to the national discourse in the resulting power vacuum.


> On the one hand News Corporation and Fairfax Media can rot in hell, but I'm almost as afraid of what would happen to the national discourse in the resulting power vacuum.

Someone's gonna fill in, and most probably it will be Russian or Chinese propaganda.


Can we convince the Betoota Advocate to pivot?

The problem is that there is no standard form of microtransaction on the internet. I'd happily pay 2 cents to read an article, which is a lot more than the website would receive in advertising revenue, but not $10/month in subscription fees.

We basically need an aggregator of all of those 2 cents, since individually the payment fees will be extreme.


There is the "basic attention token" crypto, it seems like a moonshot to me but it does address the general idea.

> I am only disappointed that our government would be complicit.

I think I'm OK with the government going along, provided media companies have the choice on if they require payment for this sort of reuse of their content. Assuming it is optional, it will be interesting to see which companies charge. It will also be interesting to see if Google and/or Facebook think it is worth paying.

Personally, I go directly to the news sources I'd be willing to pay for and avoid all the crap. And search engines for research, to find older articles. I could see a business case for papers and similar to opt out of the news aggregators, but it would seem to be suicide to opt out of search as for all intents and purposes your domain would cease to exist.


It doesn't look like a flailing grasp to me. It looks to me like the press has way too much power and influence and uses it to get policy bad for the public but good for the press.

This idea that the press is dying just because its revenue is drying up isn't rooted in reality. The press has enough influence to just make the public give it money, bypassing the whole "sell stuff" part of the model. For example, Canada just gave the press, as an industry, $595 million of the public's money for some reason.

No, the press is more powerful than ever. And why? Because if you have something nice and the press hates you, you're very likely to lose that nice thing.


HN: Google isn't entitled to it's current business model.

Also HN: Decade old, failing Murdoch empire should be funded by Big Tech under the law.


That's definitely not what I'm seeing in these comments.

Not sure how this is "world first" when Spain already did this (and Google withdrew the News service as a result).

So before anyone goes off half-cocked, the proposed legislation applies to:

1. News businesses that are registered with ACMA and comply with the codes for print/TV/radio regarding content, eg press council etc and publish predominantly Australian content for Australian audiences

2. Have revenue over $150K/year

3. Digital platforms (as determined by the Treasurer)

It requires both sides to:

a) provide each other with information,

b) negotiate in good faith,

c) submit to formal arbitration if they can't agree.

The platforms are required (as a minimum) to not discriminate between news sources, what they collect about users that click on the news sources (where that is different to what they normally collect), and how they make that information available to the news source.

They're required to explain how they display paywalled contant, how they display non-paywall content, how they display advertising, and, if they change that, how the change will affect the news sources. It also requires the platform to, if they allow user comments (eg a FB page), allow the news source to control/disable/moderate those comments.

The news sources are allowed to co-operate in the negotiations.

It's not a long bill and it's in plain(-ish) English.

https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20Bill...


> b) negotiate in good faith,

That's part of the problem, though -- it doesn't define what they're to negotiate in good faith over.

Ordinary negotiations involve some kind of proprietary, property, or contract right. I negotiate with my employer to provide my services in exchange for a salary, because absent an agreement neither party is compelled to do anything. I can also negotiate with my neighbour over compensation to my fence when he damages it, because that damage was contrary to law -- an action was taken without legal right.

I can't force my neighbour into negotiations when he throws a party and doesn't invite me (because of the stick up my ass about the fence, see above), because he had no obligation to do so in the first place.

So, how does this apply to Foogle? The negotiations in the bill appear to be related to news content 'made available' by the platform, but that term does not appear to be defined. In particular, it does not appear to be restricted to actions that would be covered by property-like copyright rights.

Instead, this bill appears to be taking a stance based on anticompetitive/monopolistic behaviours. There is a reasonable basis for this argument, but in my opinion any action would require much more groundwork to set out just what behaviours are allegedly harmful. This legislation seems to sidestep that entirely, and in particular the list of "must-consider" items for an arbitrator (52ZP) is entirely to the benefit of news corporations over Foogle.

> It also requires the platform to, if they allow user comments (eg a FB page),

To be scrupulously fair here, this doesn't seem to require that Foogle allow moderation of all user comments on a news story, only those on stories submitted by the news agency itself (52S.1(a)(ii)). So News Corp gets to moderate its own Facebook page, but it can't moderate comments on users' walls when they just discuss a News Corp article.


Seems like massive legislative over-reach.

1.100 Discrimination in this context will be considered to occur if the news content of a registered news business is disadvantaged incomparison to other news content in terms of the crawling, indexing,ranking, display, presentation or other process undertaken by the digital platform on any service provided by the digital platform, on the basis ofthe registered news business’ participation in the code.

IANAL, but my simple reading of this seems to imply it will be illegal for Google to NOT crawl and index News Corps content.


Seems like a great opportunity to entrench Google's and Facebook's power. A corollary of free market principles, whoever pays for the news decides which news outlet flourishes and which one fades into nonexistence, or, what the news outlet reports. News outlets have always been sensitive to advertisers and moneyed patrons because they make next to nothing from the readership.

All of this is to say that as Google and Facebook become a bigger share of the revenue of news outlets, the more sway they'll have over what those news outlets publish, whether they stand or fall, etc.


Sounds like failing legacy businesses trying to use the government to ensure profits while facing inability to compete. That's going to work so well for them. Why does Australian public allow such laws to pass?

Just another point of interest for our international friends and because 'Ctrl-F' for 'Costello' hasn't brought up anything either:

Peter Costello was, until 2007, the deputy leader and treasurer of the federal government, consisting then of the same parties that are pushing for this legislation.

Peter Costello, the same, is also since 2016 chairman of Nine Entertainment Co., the media company that would get the second highest amount of money under this legislation, right after Murdoch's own.

Yeah, Australia's kind of screwed up like that.


We need to figure out how to do this correctly.

We don’t want Google subsidizing trash like the Sun, we would rather it subsidize high quality information sites like Quanta.

I wonder if Google could create some metric where they would be more than happy to never show results from the Sun, but show results from some places and pay those entities.

Sounds like a win-win-win.

Google wins because it’s search results are higher quality, the high quality news sites win because they can have better journalists, and the public wins because they have better information.


So we let google build an algorithm that tells us which news sources are trusted? No thanks

It’s not about trust, it’s about quality and who should get funds to make higher quality information.

Yeah, I've heard this before. Ask anyone in Spanish journalism how well their laws asking for the same thing worked out for them. Spoiler: It's a complete fail.

What chance to Facebook and Google have when even the laws of mathematics must bow to Australian law [0].

Be careful what you wish for though. As an Australian, I fear that Australian news media needs Facebook and Google far more than the other way around.

0: https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-laws-of-australia-will-tru...


At the end of the day, you still need a reporter on the ground at location. That's the origination of any reputable news source.

What does this mean for RSS feeds and feed readers? I guess a case can be made for non-cloud readers to be excempt from this logic, but readers like Feedly or our feeder.co?

The code would only apply to Google and Facebook, but may be applied to other digital platforms in the future “where fundamental bargaining power imbalances with Australian news businesses emerge.”

My first instinct was this is a bad move. But given how Google is so quick to kill projects that don't make them money. (And they're still running the service... for now at least) Paired with how I personally detest how they pushed AMP giving them more control and more user data. I can't say I'm convinced they didn't do this to themselves. Nor am I convinced this isn't somehow better.

I'm sure at the very least the results will be interesting.


These news organisations should pay twitter every time they source a story from there.

Hopefully it would stop journos from writting such gripping stories as "According to some blowhard on twitter...", "These is my opinions, and to back it up here are three people on twitter who agree with me,...", "Twitter was OUTRAGED by... (several posts with five likes and one reshare)" etc, etc, etc


Honestly I don't get it. Media made a lot of money publishing dead bodies, but they don't pay a dime to victim's family.

Sooner or later Google will just "AI-parse" the same news story from many sources and generate a new headline plus snippet.

I wonder why there aren't better news search engine than google? A google search doesnt bring up any substantial project, and google news itself is pretty basic and biased and limited. I find myself often wondering "where could i read about <thing>", and feeling underwhelmed with google searches.

There are actually quite a few news search engines. I've tried to include the best and most comprehensive ones on https://www.faganfinder.com/ , although I have since found some more that I haven't reviewed.

Is that a world first? I thought they enacted the same thing in France before? https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/france-and-australia-to...

Aren't a lot of these newspaper sites funded with AdSense as opposed to direct buys/other ad networks?

So this would end up Google paying the publisher to send traffic to their site, so the publisher (potentially) earns money from Google for visitor Google has just paid for? Or something like that?!


The plus side to this is that it’ll kill (some) off-platform link sharing, which kills the “drive traffic to make money” strategy, which may reduce the amount of outrage porn circulating in the English-speaking world.

Best of luck to the Aussies, and maybe we’ll catch up sooner or later.


Google and Facebook will just stop showing results from participating news outlets.

Frankly they have enough user generated content already they don't need these companies. If it bans snippets and allows headlines for free then they'll do that, but honestly they have no need to pay a cent.


So Facebook has a choice between complying with the spirit of this law, or just appending some Australian news domains to their block list. Facebook has not shown a genuine interest in promoting the spread of truth over lies. What an incredibly stupid move.

Notably this doesn't apply to news from non-Australian operating companies or to the publicly funded broadcasters.

If I was Google or FB I know what I'd be thinking about doing now.


A year or two from now: Australia doesn't have mainstream news anymore after Google and Facebook ban links to them from its properties to avoid paying "for news".

It’s now been a year or two since various HN commenters proclaimed that Australia had “nuked its tech industry from orbit” when the new encryption laws came in, but that doesn’t seem to have come true. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18616303

That's because the tech industry doesn't really care about their users' privacy. It does care very much about profits, however.

Does Australia really have either the purchasing power and/or political clout to make sweeping statements like these and still have people actually care?

$25million people? Probably not

Time for FG to invest in local reporters and hire them for original content ie original news reporting and also get some royalty out of it :)

I think it is wrong that these platforms promote certain content and even pay for the articles. This is how you get an unhealthy, nepotistic media landscape.

And with GPT-3 or any similar technology coming journalism will be even more under pressure of displacement. I guess the future will be data collectors

wonder if you could use GPT-3 to rephrase snippets or whole articles and avoid the new fee...

> wonder if you could use GPT-3 to rephrase snippets or whole articles and avoid the new fee...

That'd be just wonderful once someone builds an adversarial model to trick the GPT-3 summarizer to output disinformation or other garbage.


Yeah, I have built a proof of concept for this, but without GPT-3.

Works well except for the edge cases. Aka not fully automatable yet so I never showed it to anyone.


If only they could encrypt the links! Austria had them beat though, they outlawed it before this one two punch! Google is over!

What implications will this have elsewhere. Where is the line drawn?

I don’t disagree with this but it feels like this will open a hornets nest.


It depends on if others follow. Australia and New Zealand are outliers when it comes to freedom of speech/expression anyway. They officially censor the media through a censorship office. I believe this doesn't affect the news directly, but movies and video games (I don't know about books) can't be published without government approval. That hasn't really had much of an effect for the rest of the world other than people making fun of Australia.

Will this create a new copyright license?

Will I be able to pay a license fee and reprint news stories? That could be really cool.


Now what would be great is to see Google pay websites it’s stealing content from to populate its snippet blocks

Are Google and Facebook also going to charge news organisations per click for the traffic they send their way?

It's more likely FB/G are operating their news aggregation services at a loss rather than a profit.

“In 2019, Google stopped showing news snippets from European publishers on search results for its French users, while Germany’s biggest news publisher, Axel Springer, allowed the search engine to run snippets of its articles after traffic to its sites to plunged.“ This is the sad reality, this is why these companies can do whatever they want. There is always someone who sells out and forces everyone to give in.

Making money for investors isn't 'selling out'. It's like how, you know, a business should be operating.

So, Google would index the social media pages of those corporations.

With even declining revenue


Sounds rational since somebody has to pay the 'source' of news

Pay who?.. Facebook should pay the users as well.

Why such corporate lobbying isn't illegal?

Spain tried this in 2014. Google simply removed "Google News" and cut off the healthy supply of clicks they send to the news outlets.

From memory, news outlets soon relented because they needed Google more than Google needed them.

When France followed Spain, they stopped Google from removing "Google News" by insisting that it was an abuse of market position to do so. Never mind the fact that it seems like an abuse of power to compel a company to do business in your region on terms it doesn't like, and to prevent it from backing out of the market.

Ben Thompson from Stratechery has some good summaries of this behind his paywall.


So much stockholm syndrome here on HN.

I hope other countries follow suit.

How exactly is this going to work?

nice move! Australia

socialism at work

Unfortunately this will just cause more misinformation and conspiracy theories to circulate.

Fake news is free. Real news is behind paywalls.


The main benefactor would be News Corp Australia. Apart from some snippets of tolerable local coverage it's all a big pile of shit that stinks from Uncle Rupert's ugly head down.

Misinformation and conspiracy theories are what they peddle. This single company controls 70% of the newspaper market and lies, misleading and cheating are part of their DNA. I hope they don't see a single red cent out of this and if it takes the shutdown of Google News then so be it.


a brilliant piece of legislation too by the looks of it, commendable job.

It's very disturbing that Silicon Valley controls so much of public discourse. Hate Trump as much as you like but having all discourse controlled by faceless billionaires is not good to anyone. It would be the same if Bernie Sanders was the president and he did something that would affect them. It's not moral, it's just money for billionaires.



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