In the dispute over Australia’s planned media law, Google puts forward further arguments as to why it would not be enforceable in practice. The main ie is the contracts to be negotiated between the U.S. company and the publishers and, in case of doubt, to be decided in arbitration proceedings. In the USA there was similar as “Baseball Arbitration”, This includes buying and selling players – but that doesn’t work very well either.
Australia foresees the agreement between media companies and Internet corporations such as Google and Facebook to negotiate among themselves the price for the use of content, creating a kind of licensing fee system. If they do not agree, a mediator may intervene or arbitration may occur. According to Google, however, this would only be possible if there was fundamental agreement on what the object or content to be negotiated is worth. “Some amounts that publishers consider reasonable for us to maintain links to them are unrealistic”, writes Google in a blog post.
One media company, for example, has already suggested that digital platforms should pay a billion US dollars each year, ignoring the fact that just one percent of search queries in Australia are related to news. Accordingly, they make revenues of ten million US dollars. Both sides therefore had completely different ideas about prices, making it impossible for a mediator or arbitrator to give priority to one offer here. Moreover, no company could operate with such ambiguity. In baseball, the method therefore also often fails and does not lead to a quick result.
Missing criteria and clicks
After all, in baseball there were criteria that could be applied, such as an athlete’s catch or a team’s past performance. In the “News Media Bargaining Code”, but as the law states, there is no provision for it.
Another argument, which has already been raised several times, is the possible lack of consideration of the clicks that the media houses have only benefited from through the search engine. According to Google, this amounted to more than 200 million US dollars in 2018. It also fails to take into account that Google invests heavily in its services, which are used by 22 million Australians every day, as well as in programs and training for publishers themselves. They will continue to work with the authorities to find a solution, but a fair solution.
Google had already warned users directly that they could lose free access to Internet search. However, the Australian government and media companies are sticking to their plan. The law is intended to improve the conditions of competition for Australian media and thus enable them to share in the revenues of Internet companies. Facebook is not happy with the plans either, threatening that no more media content could be shared on social networks should the licensing fee system be implemented.