Australia is preparing a new law called the News Media Bargaining Code, which would require tech giants to negotiate payments for content that appears in Search and News with local news publishers and broadcasters. In the absence of an agreement, a state-appointed arbitrator will determine the amount of the fee.
At a hearing in Australia’s Senate Committee, Managing Director of Google Australia and New Zealand, Mel Silva, said that the company will not be able to work in the country in such conditions.
Silva noted that the new law will oblige the company to pay for links to news in search results. The Managing Director called this decision a slippery slope that would end search engine business models. According to Silva, a possible shutdown of Search in Australia is not a threat, but a reality if the new law goes into effect.
“The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to Search. Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia. That would be a bad outcome not just for us, but for the Australian people, media diversity and small businesses who use Google Search,” said Mel Silva in a statement.
Google is not actually opposed to licensing as it already has a News Showcase program that pays publishers for content that appears in the Google News app’s special section.
Google has supporters in this case. For instance, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the world wide web creator, shared his opinion regarding the new law, saying that it "risks breaching a fundamental principle of the web by requiring payment for linking between certain content online."
In response, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government would not respond to threats from tech giants. In addition, it became known about the possible blocking of the Facebook news section in Australia.