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Wednesday, 26 August 2020 11:55

Why the ACCC is right and Google is wrong

Why the ACCC is right and Google is wrong Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

The Australian media code of conduct calls for digital platforms to pay for the use of news content produced by media. Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend this?

It is a common practice for everyone — except for a thief or bandit — to pay for anything they obtain from a third party. One does not expect to drink a cup of coffee at a wayside stand and walk away without paying.

As I have outlined earlier, there are reasons why Google is trying to delay the passage of legislation to make it the law of the land. Let me not repeat myself.

There are some people who argue that Google and Facebook do not get any benefit from news publications. Pray, where would you get vehicles for carrying ads from the biggest ad agency in the world?

And if Facebook's Australian users had nothing to post and were not allowed to use Australian news articles, what would they do for their posts?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is not asking for much, just a fair share of what the two digital platforms earn through monetisation of the material generated by Australian journalists and writers. Why is there such a lot of resistance to paying for what one uses?

One has the greatest respect for Labor politician Ed Husic but his arguments — you can read them here — that making Google and Facebook pay a fee will benefit News Corporation does not really cut it.

Husic has expressed reservations over the fact that the ACCC halted talks over a voluntary code and began work on a legally binding plan.

One is unsure why Husic is unable to see Google's long-term plan: to prolong the stoush with the ACCC over the code until the US presidential election, in the hope that current trends hold and the Democrats return to power.

If that happens, then Australia will find it very difficult to do anything to rein in either Google or Facebook.

Everyone loves a free lunch, but the reality is that there is no such thing. Somewhere down the line, someone has to pick up the tab. Companies that are making billions in Australia should stop trying to act like Ebenezer Scrooge.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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