Google seems to have backtracked from earlier plans to disable Search in Australia. The search engine in a new blog post announced that it will pay some publishers as part of a licensing program to refer traffic to their stories.
Recall that Google had planned to pull out of the Australian market following a new legislation, though not passed at the time. This led to controversy between the search engine giant and the Australian government.
If the new legislation is passed into law, Google may have to start paying publishers in Australia; something the search engine giant kicked against at the time. In its response, the search engine giant threatened to disable its Search service in the country should the new code come into effect.
In July 2020, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) drafted the News Media Bargaining Code. According to the code, digital media would be required to pay media organizations for the content they show in their search results. The code was proposed by the Australian government who felt that Google and Facebook had too much power in the media industry.
“The ability to link freely between websites is fundamental to Search. This code creates an unreasonable and unmanageable financial and operational risk to our business. If the Code were to become law in its current form, we would have no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Google’s Managing Director in Australia Mel Silva said while speaking to the Senate committee in charge of the matter.
Apparently, Google’s threat did not go down well with the Prime Minister of Australia who responded with some strong words. “We don’t respond to threats. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia.”
Now, all seems well with Google and publishers in Australia as the search engine giant has promised to pay some publishers. Last Thursday, Google announced that it is rolling out the first version of Google News Showcase in the country.
“Starting today, a growing number of Australian publishers, leading examples of the best of local and regional journalism, will be paid to provide content for News Showcase. The initial publishers featured in today’s launch were among the first globally to sign up, providing early feedback and input on how the product could help bring their journalism to the fore for readers. We have been continually working with Australian news publishers of all sizes to provide their readers with a different kind of news experience under News Showcase.”