👋🏾 Google to Australia: Bye, Felicia 

There are only a few extreme times that it is OK to resurrect very old memes back to life. This one of those times.

That’s because in Australia there’s a powerful game of chicken happening. The country wants to force Google to pay for the news content it shares on its platforms, and Google has come back with a huge threat.

It says it will pull its services out of Australia entirely. 

  • Google has cashed in off journalism for years: Its “Google News” section earns it plenty of eyeballs and ad dollars. The search engine claims news organizations benefit from the traffic sent their direction, and it has also donated $1 billion to the news industry.

  • Google resisted payments to media organizations until recently: In France, which has tighter copyright laws, Google is starting to pay up. And the company is expected to make similar arrangements throughout the EU

  • But Australia wants more: The Australian government seeks to make Google pay for any links to news articles it shares on its platforms. And in the event that Google and news orgs can’t agree on compensation, Australia wants to mandate that an independent arbitrator solve the dispute. Experts believe an arbitrator could be called in for almost 75% of transactions.  

Google is not having it

A spokesperson told the WSJ that Australia’s insistence on making it pay for links to any article violates the practice of unrestricted linking Google is known for. Because of the enormous difficulty of that ask, Google is threatening to shut down in Australia, where needless to say Bing is not very popular. About 95% of Australian internet searches happen on Google.  

The Verdict

Australia is not blinking. Some version of legislation requiring payment to publishers is expected to pass. One Australian media expert commented, “Google’s overreaction perfectly illustrates why the code is needed.”