24 Jan 2021

Australia's plan to force Google to pay for news goes too far - National

11:00 am on 24 January 2021

The National Party says the Australian government's push to make Google share royalties with news publishers is too heavy handed.

Kyiv, Ukraine - January 24, 2018: Woman using Google app on  Apple iPhone 8 plus at home. Google it is the most-used search engine on the World Wide Web,

Photo: 123RF

Australia is introducing a landmark law to make Google, Facebook and potentially other tech companies pay media outlets for their news content.

But Google has hit back saying it could withdraw the search engine from Australia.

Google's stance prompted Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison to say the country would not respond to threats.

National's spokesperson for digital economy and communications, Melissa Lee said the Australian model is far too heavy handed and has chilling connotations as to how other future technological innovations could be affected for the market here.

"We've said before the election we are committed to a wide ranging review of the media sector in New Zealand which includes content regulation, funding and capacity across all platforms and would not support such a content policy as proposed in Australia without this first taking place."

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Melissa Lee says the Australian model for charging Google has chilling connotations. Photo: RNZ / DOM THOMAS

Lee said the media sector innovates and changes and any new law needs to be fair and have buy-in from stakeholders.

Auckland University of Technology computer science professor Dave Parry told RNZ yesterday that Google might well follow through with the threats, because barring Australians won't affect their bottom line too much.

Parry said Google uses a "parasitic" business model where they make money off other people's content.

"If they are seen as being under threat by having to pay for some of that content which they don't usually, then I can see [Google] wanting to make an example out of Australia on this."

The potential ban would put a "mark in the ground" over with how far Google was willing to go to defend its business interests, and the New Zealand Government should take note if it planned to introduce similar laws to Australia's, he said.

He added that New Zealand websites may benefit if the search engine was pulled, as Australian users would flock to Aotearoa's version of Google.

Meanwhile, in France Google has reached an agreement with an association of publishers on how it will pay for reuse of news content.

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