Google and YouTube are speaking out against a proposed law in Australia that would require them to pay news publishers. According to the platforms, the law will hurt smaller YouTube creators.
Both Google and YouTube say that the proposed law will have a “significant negative impact” on local creators and Google search functionality. The bill, named News Media Bargaining Code, aims to level the field for all Australia’s news industry. Since January 2019, the country has seen 200 newsrooms shut down or reduce their services.
The law would allow Australian news publishers to negotiate compensation with Google and Facebook for distributing their content. It may force these platforms to notify news companies of changes to their algorithms. Essentially, the proposed legislation would allow outlets to bargain either individually or collectively with Google and Facebook for compensation and then enter arbitration if an agreement can’t be reached within three months. An independent arbitrator would settle the matter in 45 days, according to CNN.
Google and YouTube’s response
Google and YouTube responded to the proposed law with an open letter from Google Australia managing director Mel Silva and a blog post from Gautam Anand, head of YouTube, Asia-Pacific. Both of the responses showed concern over user privacy. They are claiming the law could potentially put free services like Google Search and YouTube at risk. Their funds would instead have to be issued to news companies instead of going into those features.
Also, the News Media Bargaining Code may very well give traditional news companies an advantage over smaller content creators. The law could make YouTube obligated to give traditional news companies confidential information about its algorithms. The companies could then use this information to appear higher in the search rankings, increasing their views and money earned off the video.
Is Google spreading misinformation?
According to Australian regulators rebutting Google’s claims, they said that the company is spreading misinformation. In a statement responding to Google, the Australian Competition And Consumer Commission said that Google would not be required to charge Australians for its free services or be required to share any user data unless it chooses to do so.
“The draft code will allow Australian news businesses to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists’ work that is included on Google services,” the organization said. “This will address a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook. A healthy news media sector is essential to a well-functioning democracy.”
Currently, the law is going through a public consultation phase though Aug. 28. It will then be finalized before going to the Australian parliament.