Australia’s showdown with Google has implications for domestic businesses

Although Google and publishers are involved, the Australian proposal has broader implications for non-publishers and possibly for other search engines as well. And if Google faces the threat, there could also be unintended consequences for local businesses.

The situation in Australia

In April 2020, the Australian Government asked the Australian Competition Commission (ACCC) to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address imbalances between digital platforms, particularly Google and Facebook, and media companies. Australian news. This code of conduct has become the News Media Trading Code.

How it differs from the French agreement. The agreement in France serves as the basis for licensing agreements with individual publishers. The offer is part of Google’s News Showcase initiative, in which the company pays publishers to purchase content licenses and show them to users in a history window.

Google’s agreement with French publishers does not extend to traditional search results. However, the Australian Code seeks to compensate publishers for links in traditional search results.

For Google, it’s not just about compensation. “Our problems with the current version of the Australian code are not about money, we are prepared to pay,” Google said in a statement to Ars Technica.

“The point is that we are being asked to pay for links and snippets that do not pay for the EUCD (and conversion in French). Here we draw the line. Links and snippets are the building blocks of an open and free France: the editors pay them with News Showcase. The difference is that News Showcase works with code so that publishers can mediate with News Showcase to solve the differences.

In addition to paying publishers to link to important search results, they were also opposed to these other provisions of the code.

• Advanced Algorithm Notification: Google must notify the publisher 14 days before the algorithm changes. This “will give news publishers special treatment in a way that harms all other website owners” and will delay the user’s update, the company said.

• The arbitration process: If Google and a publisher do not reach an agreement, the arbitration will only be done at the publisher’s expense to create the content and benefits they receive from Google, even if the amount is paid by Google. Search Results. Baseball arbitration, in which both parties must submit a final offer from which the arbitrators choose one of the proposals, will be used to decide how much Google will pay.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the president’s executive have sent documents to the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Economics expressing concern about the unbalanced arbitration model and the overall action of the Code, which affects only two companies in the states. IT IS.

For Australian regulators, it’s not just about money. “[Google and Facebook] were selected by the Australian News Program, without normally offering revenue-sharing agreements to all media companies that produce this content,” the code states. However, the same claim can be applied to other search engines and social media platforms, suggesting that it’s not just paying publishers that play a role.

According to 94, Google controls 94.45% of the search market in Australia, with its biggest competitors, Bing and DuckDuckGo, with 3.61% and 0.85% respectively.

Google’s dominance means it has a huge impact on entire industries, as well as how people access information. Historically, only governments have exerted so much influence, and the ACCC can also try to limit that influence by exercising its authority through the code it recommends, via Google and Facebook.

“Without rigid rules for intervention, the sustainability of a diverse local media industry is at stake and our society can be seen through the decisions of two men in Menlo Park and Mountain View,” said Chris Janz, director of Nine. Australian Financial Review and The Age) in a statement to the Australian Senate Economic Commission.

On January 13, it was reported that Google had conducted an experiment to remove media sites from Australian search results. Instead of receiving critical updates from ABC, 9News, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, or The Australian, some people looking for an NSW coronavirus have just received news of their results – a week-long test with Al-Jazeera. , says .. Janz.

Google’s ability to conduct this so-called experiment demonstrates a truth at the heart of the digital media ecosystem: if you follow the rules. For media organizations, this means accepting content displayed on Google’s platforms. It offers to Google significant returns without paying a dime to create that journalism. “If you don’t play football, Google shows that it isn’t afraid to get you off the internet,” he said.

A little over a week later, Google threatened to remove searches in Australia if the code became legal. In response, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a press conference: ‘Australia sets our rules for what you can do in Australia. This is happening in our parliament. This is done by our government. And that’s how it works here in Australia, and people who want to work with it in Australia are welcome.

It’s about the bottom

The negotiations between the Australian government and Google have led to a type of broadband that, unless the two find an alternative solution, affects the performance of search engines (at least in Australia) and the relationship between content creators and users. . Some parts want to continue without the others.

Google has eliminated this before, but never before. Google is aware of the pressure from the government and publishers. In 2014, it forced German publishers to formally join Google News following the enactment of a copyright law that gives publishers virtually complete control over the use of their content. He later restricted German news content to headlines to avoid liability. In the same year, it closed Google News in Spain after an even broader law was passed that does not allow individual publishers to give up their copyright.

However, these answers are far from completely relevant. While this is a drastic measure, Australia is a very small market, so it may be a cheaper decision if you retire part of your business instead of paying to contact Australian publishers and issuers, similar to others markets. I want to do it.

The collateral damage caused by the closure of Google Search. “I expect the organic search traffic of new users to smaller sites to decline significantly after many discoveries,” says Matthew Brown, CEO of MJBLabs and former director of search strategy for the New York Times. Large media organizations are likely to perform better because people can search for them directly.

However, the organic traffic to publishers will decrease. And fewer visitors means less revenue. “Publishers will suffer losses, especially if many media companies promote programs and direct sales,” said Ben May, CEO of The Code Company, an Australian development agency working with online publishers.

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