Google, Facebook Face News Fees

John Lister's picture

Google and Facebook could have to pay a fee to show content from Australian news organizations. The proposed laws have upset not just the tech giants, but the United States government.

The Australian proposals follow a government investigation that concludes the two companies have too much control in the media market. It pointed to several regional newspapers closing and advertising revenue falling for publications at the same time Google and Facebook benefit from using news extracts on Google News and in Facebook posts.

No Surprise Algorithm Changes

Under the laws, Google and Facebook would have to negotiate fees with news providers to use extracts in this way. If the two sides couldn't settle on a price, an independent arbitrator would make a ruling. Failing to comply with the arbitrator's decision could lead to a fine of up to US$7.7 million. (Source:

With both the negotiation and the arbitration, the guidelines say any fee has to reflect not just the value Google and Facebook get from using the content, but also the value to the news provider of getting inbound links from readers who click through to their site to see the full story.

The proposed law would also mean Google and Facebook would have to warn news providers 14 days in advance before changing their algorithms in a way that would impact their business.

US Warns Of Trade Deal Problems

The government is now consulting on the proposals and has received a submission from the United States government strongly opposing the idea. The US makes four key arguments against the law:

  • Despite being an Australian law, it exclusively targets two American companies.
  • The Australian government hasn't proven any existing laws have been broken.
  • The guidelines take into account the costs to news providers in producing content but not the costs to Facebook and Google of running their own sites.
  • The guidelines allow smaller media companies to work together on collective bargaining, something the US says is against "broadly accepted competition principles."

The US government also warns that letting an arbitrator make a binding decision on the fees would violate a clause in a US-Australia trade deal that says companies have the right to appeal against "administrative or bureaucratic decisions." (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Should this be a legal matter? Do Google and Facebook have a moral duty to pay for using extracts of news stories on their sites? Is their a fair way to calculate such fees?

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Average: 5 (6 votes)


Dennis Faas's picture

The idea that Google and Facebook have to pay a fee to link to certain news sites is ridiculous.

A similar example to this is sites that incorporate "paywalls" - you either get part of an article and the site asks for a paid subscription, or you get X free articles and then the site asks for a paid subscription to keep reading more content.

One way around that is to search for the same story from another site that doesn't have a paywall. The exact same thing can be done to these Australian sites that are demanding a fee for their content. The fact is, once news breaks it tends not to be unique anymore and a bunch of other sites end up stealing the bulk of information from the original. There are no laws against paraphrasing and citing sources, last I checked.

I understand some people are willing to pay the premium for breaking stories and to support specific organizations, but the truth is that most people believe everything on the Internet is free and refuse to pay for much of anything, let alone news - even if it's paraphrased.

buzzallnight's picture

Install all the browsers you can
when you hit the free article limit
copy the link into a different browser
They think you are a different user!!!!!!
you may have to log in again if it is a site that uses logins.
So you start with IE 11
switch to chrome
switch to edge
that is usually enough for me but
you could switch to Mosilla
switch to opera
switch to safari
switch to brave


e5chultz_3890's picture

Still trying to sell buggy whips. News (information actually) sharing businesses have just become economically viable with the advent of the Internet. Originators of media disregard the fact that any embedded advertising goes with the news Only when viewed on the original site.

doulosg's picture

Don't Google and Facebook make money by extracting this information from another site? If they aren't willing to pay for that access, isn't that essentially stealing? Google has monetized the flow of information; this sounds like their own ideas are being turned back on them, and turnabout has always been fair play.

russoule's picture

so if I copy an article from Forbes and post it on my Facebook page, is Forbes entitled to come after me for "copywrite infringement"? yes, because the Forbes site very explicitly says it is "copywrited material". shouldn't the Big Boys be subject to the same rules?

what would happen to Dennis if he posted an article from Tech Times without permission? he would be told to take it down. there is no difference just because Google and Facebook are big.

America has always recognized that what comes out of a person's brain is unique to that person and that person has a right to control how and when it is used. I might think Froma Harren is an illogical and notorious liberal, but I defend her right to keep her thoughts as her own and to NOT allow Facebook to post them just because they were displayed in a newspaper.

go get 'em, Australia.