Facebook will restore messages to its platform in Australia after the government agreed to change proposed legislation that sparked a fierce battle over how publishers are compensated for internet giants’ use of their content.
On Tuesday, Australian legislators said the code would now include a provision that must take into account whether a digital platform “has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry by entering into commercial agreements with news media companies”.
And arbitration would now only be used as a “last resort” after a period of “good faith” mediation. Facebook said the revisions would allow it to remain in control of messages on its platform.
Facebook bans users and publishers in Australia from sharing and viewing news content in one fell swoop on New Reg
The dispute has been brewing for months and the legislation, which is due to be passed shortly, would have required immediate binding arbitration if the two sides – publisher and platform – had not reached an agreement on the compensation. In addition, tech platforms had to give publishers collective bargaining powers and notify them of changes to the algorithm that would significantly affect traffic.
William Easton, executive director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, said last week that the proposed law “is fundamentally wrong about the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content” and that “we choose it with a heavy heart” Suspend messages from our service in Australia.
The law in Australia and similar movements in other countries are a reaction to the power imbalance between social media giants who offer news to their massive user base and news providers who want to be fairly compensated. In a preventative move last week, Rupert Murdochs News Corp. signed a global news content contract with Google
Microsoft and a handful of European publishing groups will be working together on similar rules for tech platforms that pay for news.