South Africa: The Australian Deal With Google and Facebook Does Not Encourage Innovation


The past few weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster for news publishers in Australia as the battle to strongarm the biggest internet proprietors got real.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, the Australian government has been working on a media bargaining code for three years. The premise is that Google and Facebook have built such a great mousetrap that they should now pay news publishers for linking to their articles in search results or Facebook's news feed, even when those very publishers are the ones posting the links into the feed. The code supports an arbitration model to negotiate this.

So why the fuss? Well, Google decided to play ball and "settle" with some news publishers that have been pushing this angle for a decade. Facebook initially raised the middle finger, cutting off all access to news content for Australians. After some late-night haggling, Facebook got the Aussie government to bend on a few aspects of the code and said it would open the news taps again so hard news could intersperse the standard feed of bigotry, drunk uncle posts and food porn. But what does this all mean...

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