It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation right now when it comes to news publishers and platforms like Google and Facebook. One could argue that without Google or Facebook, publishers might have less reach than they would today. Another argument is that without these articles, Google or Facebook would have less content that would make their services so invaluable.
The latter argument is one that some governments, like the Australian government, are making in a bid to get these tech companies to pay publishers for using their content. In fact, Microsoft seems to be in agreement with those sentiments and have stated that the US government should adopt a similar policy.
This is according to Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith who said, “The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead.” It wasn’t too long ago that Google actually threatened that should the Australian government force their hand, they might have to block the search function of its services in the country.
However, Richard Gingras, vice president of news at Google offers up a counter argument in which he said, “We’re not against providing support to the industry. The question is, what are we paying for? And are those arrangements structured in a way that is fair and equitable to the full ecosystem of publishers as well as to our commercial deals with those publishers?” It is an interesting debate and it will be interesting to see what kind of precedent Australia’s decision could set for the rest of the world.