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. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Jun 2021 @ 11:52am

    'We helped you so now you help us, right? ... right?'

    What a surprise, the same thing that happened the last time happened this time as well, who ever could have seen that other than everyone?

    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.

    You'd think an industry where 'investigation and journalism' are supposed to be core parts would have done even the slightest bit of research to see how this work out the last time it happened in Spain and how the larger and smaller publications faced very different outcomes...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Jun 2021 @ 2:16pm

    'We helped you so now you help us, right? ... right?'

    Oh, if only there were a popular meme to pair this text with… 😁

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    hoop_snake_drop_bear (profile), 21 Jun 2021 @ 3:44pm

    Rupert's Reward

    Both the government and opposition are scared that News Corp with its large percentage of the print media will campaign against them at any election.

    The law should be know as "Rupert's Reward"

    Cheers

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Bloof (profile), 21 Jun 2021 @ 4:06pm

    Did anyone really believe a law written by Rupert, for Rupert, would benefit smaller players? Come on now. Rupert being Rupert, harming smaller outlets was probably done by design.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2021 @ 4:10pm

    Didn't the small publishers get kicked out of this anyway by the last minute change of the laws wording which means Google/Facebook now only need to sign deals with enough outlets to make the Government happy (i.e News International) rather than have to sign deals with every outlet covered by the law;

    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/feb/23/facebook-reverses-australia-news-ban-after-govern ment-makes-media-code-amendments

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2021 @ 4:35pm

    Re: 'We helped you so now you help us, right? ... right?'

    They cut the journalism for stenography and are wondering why nobody pays attention to them anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Jun 2021 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Re: 'We helped you so now you help us, right? ... right?'

    'I don't get it, we're running nothing but ads and PR statements, why doesn't anyone take us seriously anymore?!'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2021 @ 7:01pm

    But are these outlets realizing that they messed up, though? Spain and Germany, at the very least, recognized that the link tax didn't help at all. With how entrenched Murdoch is in the Australian ecosystem, it wouldn't surprise me if smaller media outlets in Australia would simply tighten the thumbscrews wrapped around their own fingers instead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    lamf, 21 Jun 2021 @ 9:20pm

    Re:

    r/leopardsatemyface

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Rocky, 22 Jun 2021 @ 12:27am

    Tweaking Murdoch's nose...

    Imagine the reaction if Google for example tweaked it's algorithm to rank smaller news-outlets higher not belonging to Murdoch et al. If someone complains Google can just say "We are committed to supporting local journalism, is that a problem now?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2021 @ 2:22am

    But they are being remunerated fairly. Which is to say, not at all. They're just jealous uncle Rupert's goverment cronies got him to be remunerated unfairly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2021 @ 2:27am

    Re: Tweaking Murdoch's nose...

    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. And if the govermnent so insisted, IP-blocking all of Australia along with them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Jun 2021 @ 9:19am

    Re:

    I'm not sure whether it's correct to call this a 'link tax'

    They're being charged for links, that's a link tax, though if you want I suppose 'link extortion' would also be appropriate since they have no real way to refuse to use and therefore pay for links.

    The big platforms are so dominant publishers can't afford not to be on them.

    Tough. The local paper may be the place to host ads, does that mean I get to demand that they host ads to my store and pay me for the privilege?

    This isn't a matter of 'survival' so much as naked greed, where the papers saw other companies making a lot of money and decided that they wanted what they thought was 'their cut' despite the fact that their content benefits those other companies far less than it benefits them, something made clear in the past when Google was smart and just pulled the content only to have the news companies scream bloody murder.

    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.

    It's not 'leveling the playing field', it's tilting it entirely in one side's favor by telling two companies that they will be subsidizing another set of major companies, paying them for the traffic and extra eyeballs that they'd been getting for free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    JBDragon (profile), 22 Jun 2021 @ 4:16pm

    Shocked!

    I'm shocked Google and Facebook is even going along with this and paying the big company's. I would have just cut ALL news from everyone and be done with it.

    Watch as everyone crashes and their viewership sinks like a rock and they cave in and everything goes back to normal once again as the Link Tax is tossed.

    I guess if you're going to have any news, it's just far easier to have a couple of the big guys and ignore everyone else. I'm sure all this news will also fall in line with these leftists company's views also. That's a plus for Google and Facebook. They can censor everyone else without it looking like censorship.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2021 @ 3:34pm

    The smaller media outlets aren't Rupert.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    TheDumberHalf, 1 Jul 2021 @ 4:03pm

    Re:

    Sure you can have links, but route them to special sites that make the user copy and paste the link from a page to the url field. That extra step alone will cut down traffic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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