Facebook declined to negotiate a license contract with a publisher, laying the groundwork for the world’s hardest online content law’s first test. According to reports, Australia’s competition watchdog is investigating the made allegation.
It requested Facebook to start negotiations with media publishers as required by new Australian legislation, which mandates Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to negotiate content-supply arrangements with media organizations.
Despite the fact that the publication was one of the first in Australia to negotiate a similar arrangement with Google in the run-up to the 2020 law, Facebook rejected without offering a reason, the Conversation said.
A government-appointed arbitrator may be called in if they refuse to negotiate license costs with publishers.
Facebook’s head of news partnerships for Australia, Mr. Andrew Hunter in response to a question said the company was “focused on concluding commercial deals with a range of Australian publishers”.
He said Facebook was planning a separate initiative “to support regional, rural and digital Australian newsrooms and public-interest journalism in the coming months”, without giving more details.
In an interview, the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Mr. Rod Sims said: “If Google’s done a deal with them, I can’t see how Facebook should argue that they shouldn’t.”
“The matter of designation could need to come into play,” Mr. Sims said, using a word for appointing an arbitrator.
According to the legislation, the choice to intervene in a Big Tech business is made by the country’s treasurer, who is advised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, but “an unequivocal ‘no’ for an organization that should be receiving a deal is something we’ll look into,” said Mr. Sims.
The Conversation was “exactly what we had in mind with the code”, he said.
legislation is being passed on all over the world for digital firms to reimburse media organizations for the connections that lead readers – and advertising income – to their platforms. However, Australia is the only country where, if discussions fail, the government may establish the fees, a point that prompted Facebook to suspend news feeds in the country right before the bill was enacted.
The case also portrays the law’s impact on the business in a less favorable light than has been generally stated. Since the law went into force, a number of the country’s largest media companies, including News Corp and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, have made partnerships with digital behemoths.
However, several small and independent publishers, whose material attracts four-fifths of Australia’s 25 million Facebook users, claim that the regulation has created a two-tier business, with competing properties owned by major parent firms securing partnerships while others are left out.
He claimed to have seen Facebook’s public comments on the subject of talking to publishers, “I’m sitting here going, with whom? Not with us. Despite reaching out, we haven’t heard anything. We’re all scratching our heads, trying to work out what to do next”.
On behalf of roughly 140 publishers, Country Press Australia, a regional newspaper industry organization, said it was in positive negotiations with Facebook.
The Conversation editor Misha Ketchell said: “Obviously we are disappointed that we haven’t been able to engage in negotiations with Facebook so far, but we remain optimistic that we will be able to reach an agreement.”