As Predicted, Smaller Media Outlets Are Getting Screwed By Australia's Link Tax

from the exactly-as-we-warned dept

Ever since the giant news organizations, led by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., began pushing the ridiculous idea of forcing Google and Facebook (and often just Google and Facebook) to pay a "link tax," we've been pointing out that while this might be a windfall of free money for the news giants, small news organizations (like, um, us) would likely get totally screwed over. With Australia leading the charge of silliness and passing its link tax, we're discovering that our predictions were exactly correct.

The big Australian publishers, News Corp. and NINE, are making out like bandits, while the smaller publications? Not so much.

A long-term commercial deal between Facebook and Google and Guardian Australia is expected to be completed in a matter of days, adding to a raft of agreements struck between large tech companies and major media outlets since February. While companies like Nine Entertainment Co, News Corp Australia and Seven West Media are already implementing plans off the back of the deals, there is increasing concern among smaller companies that they still have not been remunerated fairly.

Of course, this isn't really surprising. In fact, the real worry should be that the administrative costs for the internet companies to have to figure out how to compensate smaller publishers is so unworthy of the hassle, that those smaller publications will just start to be excluded en masse from Google and Facebook, once again serving the interests of the largest publishers, and not actually helping the cause of journalism at all.

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Filed Under: australia, link tax, rupert murdoch, wealth transfer
Companies: facebook, google, news corp.


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  1. identicon
    me, 22 Jun 2021 @ 8:00am

    “ I still believe Google (and Facebook) should've responded to this travesty of a law by removing all links to Murdoch and whoever else demanded money...”

    Facebook already did that back in February. Now the new law prohibits it.

    If there's no agreement there will be mandatory arbitration, so any small publisher making noise about being left out now should get something in the end - and they're allowed to band together. The crux here is, you have to register with the government, and 'pure opinion', arts and entertainment apparently don't count.

    As explained by Matt Stoller, pushing the anti-monopoly view, https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/facecrook-dealing-with-a-global-menace

    I'm not sure whether it's correct to call this a 'link tax' - platforms like Facebook and Google are made to pay for user generated content, sure, but publishers are 'users' as well. The big platforms are so dominant publishers can't afford not to be on them. Complicating the picture, they've near-monopolized advertising as well and naturally favor their own products. News has always been powered by ads.
    Short of breaking them up and potentially changing the internet as we know it, this might be a solution that levels the playing field a bit.


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