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Australian legislation requiring Facebook, Google to pay news outlets clears last hurdle

Australian legislation requiring Facebook, Google to pay news outlets clears last hurdle
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Australia’s legislation that would require tech giants to pay publishers for news content crossed another hurdle on Wednesday, with the upper chamber of the Parliament passing the legislation with amendments made after negotiations with Facebook. 

The Australian Senate passed the legislation with the social media platform’s amendments late Wednesday, and the bill will now head back to the House of Representatives, which had already passed the unamended version, The Wall Street Journal reported. The lower chamber could vote on the legislation as early as Thursday, according to the Journal.

The News Media Bargaining code in the Australian legislation would require Facebook and Google to pay publishers for news content that appears on their sites. It subjects the tech giants to mandatory price arbitration if a deal cannot be reached. 

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Both Google and Facebook fiercely pushed back on the law, with Facebook announcing last week it would restrict Australian publishers from sharing or posting content on the platform and limit Australian users from viewing or sharing international publishers’ links and posts. 

But Facebook backtracked this week, announcing it will allow links to news stores to be viewed and shared in Australia after last-minute negotiations with the Australian government. 

The new amendments would insert a two-month period to give platforms and publishers more time to negotiate before being forced into arbitration. It also suggests that online companies that have made “a significant contribution” to the Australian news industry may be temporarily exempt from making payments. 

Before Facebook’s initial announcement that it would restrict news content, Google started striking deals with publishers for content including with Australian-based Seven West Media and News Corp.