Canada backs Australia's standoff with tech giants – after Google boss called Scott Morrison

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Canada backs Australia's standoff with tech giants – after Google boss called Scott Morrison

Canada backs Australia's fight to make tech giants pay for news - after Google boss called Scott Morrison in stunning backdown from pu

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Canada backs Australia’s fight to make tech giants pay for news – after Google boss called Scott Morrison in stunning backdown from pull-out threat

  • Microsoft voiced support for Australian government’s media bargaining code 
  • The company said they would invest in Bing to fill the gap should Google leave  
  • Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai called Australian PM 
  • Google appears to have backed away from threat to withdraw from Australia 
  • They claimed requiring tech giants to pay for news content was not sustainable 
  • Canada has also backed Australia, saying they are looking into similar laws

Canada has backed Australia’s standoff with tech giant Google over paying for news content – after the search engine’s global chief video-called Scott Morrison this week backing away from the company’s threat leave Australia. 

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is leading a similar push from his government and has previously tweeted Canada ‘stands in solidarity with our Australian partners … to introduce a more equitable digital framework’. 

On Thursday and Friday more than 100 news websites across Canada displayed blank pages in protest at Google and Facebook’s refusal to pay media publishers for content appearing in search results. 

This week the global chief of Google, Sundar Pichai, and of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, both personally called Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Google has previously threatened to leave the Australian market should laws requiring them to pay for news content in search results be passed by government 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

On Thursday, Google global chief Sundar Pichai (pictured) called Scott Morrison with the PM saying the call was positive

On Thursday, Google global chief Sundar Pichai (pictured) called Scott Morrison with the PM saying the call was positive 

Google had previously threatened to remove the search bar from Australia – worth $4.8billion in revenue for the company – if the media code was passed by parliament.  

Morrison said after the call with Mr Pichai that both parties were in ‘a much more positive space about [Google’s] ability to continue to provide services here in Australia.’ 

In a stunning move that may have prompted Google’s backtrack, a day earlier Microsoft publicly announced they would support a media code and invest in their search engine Bing to fill the gap should Google leave Australia.

The Australian government is considering legislating mandatory arbitration between tech giants and news publishers who cannot reach a commercial agreement – requiring each party to accept an offer deemed appropriate by the arbitrator. 

Google claims the precedent this will set by requiring the trillion dollar company to pay for news content appearing in search results presents an existential threat to their business model. 

The draft legislation currently only applies to Google and Facebook, however, other tech companies could be included later – with Microsoft saying they would have no problem being included. 

Scott Morrison (right) is pictured sitting next to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (left) and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher (behind)  on Thursday as they speak to Sundar Pichai

Scott Morrison (right) is pictured sitting next to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (left) and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher (behind)  on Thursday as they speak to Sundar Pichai

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault earlier tweeted that Canada would "stand in solidarity" with Australia over a digital regulatory framework

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault earlier tweeted that Canada would ‘stand in solidarity’ with Australia over a digital regulatory framework 

On Thursday Mr Guilbeault issued a statement saying Canada was closely watching how the situation between the Australian government and Google and Facebook played out. 

‘Our position is clear: publishers must be adequately compensated for their work and we will support them as they deliver essential information for the benefit of our democracy and the health and well-being of our communities,’ he said.  

‘We must address the market imbalance between news media organizations and those who benefit from their work.’ 

Industry agency News Media Canada also warned in an open letter, penned by president John Hinds, to Canadian parliament that legitimate news organisations must be compensated to counter the growing amount of fake news and conspiracy theories. 

‘These massive American companies get virtually all of the revenue and don’t pay for content,’ he said. 

‘Movie content doesn’t work that way in Canada. Music content doesn’t work that way. TV show content doesn’t work that way. So why is news content treated differently?’ 

Mel Silva, the Managing Director of Google Australia and New Zealand, said the company may be forced to pull its search function out of Australia if the code goes ahead

Mel Silva, the Managing Director of Google Australia and New Zealand, said the company may be forced to pull its search function out of Australia if the code goes ahead 

On Friday, Google launched their News Showcase feature – their solution to the dispute – with news organisations curating content to be featured on the service. 

Google would then pay directly for this content, often behind paywalls, with a $1.3billion global budget for the service over three years. 

Google has already reached deals with more than 450 publications globally. 

The Australian government has said their preferred option would be for Google, Facebook and publishers to reach their own agreements with the legislation acting as a safety net. 

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