Australian Official Admits That Of Course Murdoch Came Up With Link Tax, But Insists The Bill Is Not A Favor To News Corp.
from the did-he-just-say-that-out-loud? dept
Earlier this year, we wrote a lot about the ridiculous anti-open internet Australian link tax that is now being pushed elsewhere around the globe. Anyone paying attention to the details knew that it was extreme crony capitalism at work, with the government forcing one set of massive companies (namely, Facebook and Google) to pay another set of massive companies, led by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Nine. For all the talk of how big tech companies are “monopolies,” if you look at Australia’s news companies, it’s considered among the most concentrated in the world, and has been quite profitable for the likes of Murodch.
And while defenders of the bill insist (incorrectly) that the bill is not a link tax, but is merely a “competition bill” to help those few giant newspaper companies “better negotiate” with the giant internet companies, that’s bullshit for two reasons. First, it’s a “negotiation” to pay for links, and no one should ever have to pay to link to some other site. That’s just fundamentally against the concept of an open internet. Second, it’s no real negotiation because if Facebook and Google fail to agree to a deal that satisfies the Aussie media bosses, the government can step in and force an agreement on them.
Lots of people — including those in Australia — noted that this all seemed like a scheme to make Rupert Murdoch richer. And now the Australian competition official, Rod Sims, who “oversaw drafting of the law” has flat out admitted that the whole thing was Murdoch’s idea in the first place, though he insists it’s “extremely strange” that anyone thinks it’s a favor to Murdoch.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims, who oversaw drafting of the law, acknowledged the negotiating system was proposed by the Rupert Murdoch-controlled publisher but said all major media operators in the country supported it.
I mean, yeah, of course they supported it. Because it’s the government forcing other companies to give them free money in response to their own failures to innovate. Why wouldn’t they support it?
It is true that Google and Facebook are bigger than News Corp., which is the point that Sims really really wants to focus on. But that doesn’t even touch on whether or not it’s appropriate to force one set of companies to pay for something that should be free (linking), to another set of companies that are still making a shit ton of money on their own.
“News Corp is 1% the size of Google. News Corp is one of four main media companies (in Australia). It’s very likely not the one with the biggest reach. I just think this is a line put out by Google,” Sims added.
“There were many people giving us ideas. News Corp was but one. This whole notion that this is about News Corp is extremely strange.”
You literally just admitted that the idea came from News Corp! It wasn’t “a line put out by Google.” It was you, who just admitted what was obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention to Murdoch for years. After all, Murdoch has been publishing op-eds (in his own company’s publications, of course), demanding Facebook and Google pay him for years. It’s not like he made it a secret.
Can you make an argument that Google and Facebook are too powerful? Sure, absolutely. But, can you then make the argument that these companies which found a way to build internet services billions of people like… should be forced to pay for Murdoch’s brand of propaganda, despite there being no fundamental reason that he deserves any of that money? Not unless you want people to think you’re in Murdoch’s pocket.