Facebook says it won’t pay for news content if Australia law succeeds

Sept. 1 (UPI) — Facebook will stop sharing news stories for users in Australia if the country passes a law forcing it and Google to pay publishers for content, a company official said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is proposing a new law that would require the tech companies to share advertising revenues with media outlets for content that appears on the digital platforms.

The proposal would have to pass Australian Parliament.

“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram,” Will Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, wrote in a blog post Monday.

Easton said the proposed law would force Facebook to pay for content that publishers voluntarily post, at prices that ignore fiscal values.

“We are left with a choice of either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits,” Easton added. “Unfortunately, no business can operate that way.”

If the proposal becomes law, Facebook and Google would have three months to negotiate revenue-sharing deals with Australian media companies before an independent arbitrator imposes a compulsory arrangement. If they don’t comply, the companies could face a penalty equal to 10% of their revenue.

“We already invest millions of dollars in Australian news businesses and during discussions over this legislation we offered to invest millions more,” Easton said.

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