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Australia to make Facebook, Google pay for news (reuters.com)
520 points by nreece 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 438 comments

People in this thread seem to believe that this is only relevant to Google News. This is actually for all of Google, including Search. According to https://www.afr.com/companies/media-and-marketing/facebook-a...

> Mr Sims said if Google took a similar approach to its actions in Spain when it was asked to pay for news on its Google News tab, it would be irrelevant because the code covered news content in Google's primary function, search.

So it seems like the ultimatum is: pay Australia media companies ~$1b or don't list any news media (including international news) on Google Search for Australian users. Interesting dilemma.

Well, this is easy: remove the news. Also deals with all accusations of bias at the same time.

> pay Australia media companies ~$1b

This is Rupert Murdoch, isn't it.

Murdoch is the Australian Bezos - except he has way more political clout in a larger area of the world, and has been running his empire for 30+ years. Bezos is building those relationships with his expansions, and he's obviously got more cash to fund them - but Murdoch's empire shouldn't be underestimated.

His organization also has significant clout in the US and UK where he owns big media corporations. He's long influenced British politics, and through Fox US politics. This bill looks to be sponsored, and crafted by Murdoch.

At least Bezos provides us with an arguably useful service. What the hell has Murdoch provided the people other than FUD?

Weird way of putting it. People in North America who pay attention to politics have known about Murdoch for decades because of Fox News, before they bounced Bezos' name around nearly as freely.

It’s right there in the article.

> Media companies including News Corp Australia, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NWSA.O), lobbied hard for the government to force the U.S. companies to the negotiating table amid a long decline in advertising revenue.

> Well, this is easy: remove the news. Also deals with all accusations of bias at the same time.

Not so easy, since if you do that, you've just given an opening to a competitor that people will start using when they want to search for a news article.

A competitor who would be equally obliged to pay rent for the news. That’s a pretty big regulatory hurdle for a startup to cross.

Unless I've grossly misunderstood, it seems that the bill would apply only to Google and Facebook right now.

Would this payment also apply to a news startup which shows links from other news agencies and shows up on google. Is google obliged to pay this news site under the law? If so I just found my new internet startup and paying client.

There’s some language in there so that they only have to pay large news corporations that hire professional journalists.

> A competitor who would be equally obliged to pay rent for the news. That’s a pretty big regulatory hurdle for a startup to cross.

Maybe, but Google's interest is in maintaining its search monopoly, not creating opportunities for its destruction in fits of pique.

I'm also skeptical about how much of a hurdle this would actually be, since businesses typically have to pay suppliers (e.g. by licensing content). These rules probably only seems like a big thing because SV tech businesses have been weirdly allowed to opt out of paying in situations like this for a long time. It's not like the necessity of paying royalties prevented Netflix from taking off.

> fits of pique

"Fits of pique" like being extorted for $1 billion dollars per year? That's something like 4% of their global profit that they're being asked to fork over for the privilege of continuing to provide a just one search functionality in a small and isolated market. They'll just disable news searches in Australia lol.

I don't see any reason why Google itself couldn't simply spin off a competitor. They wouldn't have to own it. They could simply provide know-how, discounts on infrastructure, investment, and/or acquire the company at a later date.

Seems cheaper and more fruitful than simply forking over $1B. Then again, the risk to doing so might be scarier than a billion-dollar fine, especially if you factor in that the move (if discovered) would piss off legislators.

$1 billion / year is a lot of money. They'll just not serve news results for Australian-origin searches. Most searches are not for news, and news searches are not product searches and probably don't draw much ad money. People can use Bing for their news until the government wises up and adds Microsoft to their list of applicable companies (currently just Facebook and Google), at which point I'm sure Microsoft will also disable news search results in Australia.

Cheaper to pay $1bn to Murdoch than loose all the ad revenue from Australia.

That's assuming that they won't coming back begging once they realize that they need Google much more than Google needs them. Ad revenue from news sites from Australia is a slice of a slice for Google. For the news company, it's probably 90% of their traffic.

Uh-oh... if all news sites had a drop of 90% of traffic pretty sure the monopoly bells would start ringing!

If this is being done on purpose to make a case, it's a goddamn genius move - next level chess.

Google could be in a tight spot.

I don't get it - isn't that giving them exactly what they claim to want?

"You say we are unfairly dominating? Fine we'll leave and let competitors take our place." Not competing at all in a market (barring reciprocial cartel territory divisuon) is the exact opposite of anti-competive behavior. They aren't even existing there to harm them!

At worst it would be monosopy and again they provided the remedy, reducing their "buying share" of the market to 0%.

It is essentially the ultimate calling of a bluff by not sticking around to be their scapegoat.

I'm not an expert, but I'm not sure if that applies here. Google isn't in the business of making news, and isn't competing with these news companies directly. If you get 90% of the traffic to your portfolio from my blog, does that make me a monopoly too?

Is it ordinarily the case for competition law in Australia to require someone with monopoly power to do business with someone when their prices increase dramatically?

Once a protection racket works, it doesn’t tend to discourage others.

Yes. One giant extorting another giant.

Many people google topics to find news articles. That traffic may be worth $1B to Google.

Not really. There's never been a lot of search ads on news search terms and news carries with it headaches that Google might be relieved to be rid of. Most likely scenario is that Google just deletes news from Australian searches, and Australians just find another aggregator for their news, which will probably be another large American platform that doesn't pay publishers

> There's never been a lot of search ads on news search terms

The searches don't need to convert themselves in order to be valuable; if they affect user behavior enough, they'll affect it for commercial queries too. Ie, if someone switches to Bing because they never get good results on Google, they'll probably just switch to Bing period, instead of jumping back to Google for their commercial queries.

It's $1 billion / year, and it's just news searches in Australia. Some database queries will figure out whether it's more profitable to pay up or to disable news searching in Australia, and I'd bet it's gonna be disabling news searches.

There is no way news searches are worth $40 per potential customer. Assuming every single person in Australia searched for news on Google.

No love lost between Google and newspapers. Money is gonna from their ads to Google. So have readers.

Actually the law seems to ban Google from “discriminating” based on this mandatory agreement entirely, including banning them from algorithimically burying their results.

Aka: show and pay News Corp or GTFO out of Australia. Sad.

Honestly if Google and Facebook de-listed News Corp that'd probably hurt News Corp more than the tech giants. Their print publications are already circling the drain internationally. I think they should call their bluff.

Delisting News Corp would also have the benefit of raising the collective IQ

So this is just a very roundabout way of subsidizing Australian news media without having to call it that.

It’s likely an attempt by the libs to buy favour with the Murdoch press, who have traditionally had a lot of control over election outcomes.

has appeasement honestly ever worked?

That was more or less how New Labour got elected in the UK in the late 90s.

What do you mean? News Corp definitely has a sizeable influence over elections, or at least they have had in the past. So it works in that sense.

yeah but that's not really how rupert murdoch media make their decisions, is it?

Well, Murdoch always support the liberals/conservatives but if he doesn’t get what he wants then he starts enthusiastically encouraging a good stabbing/knifing (rolling the prime mister).

It’s not appeasement - the Liberal National Party and the Murdoch press have more of a ‘symbiotic relationship’.

Yes, you could consider it a tax (or rabbit) on large digital platforms to support commercial news corporations.


>Quality news has a cost

Have you seen what Murdoch-owned media publish these days? It's biased clickbait and gossip, there is nothing quality about News Corp content. Look at the front-page of news.com.au and you'll see what alleged News Corp quality news looks like.

There are much better news sources out there not crying about Google (and writing quality investigative journalism) like; crikey.com.au, abc.net.au, theguardian.com.au, theconversation.com/au, independentaustralia.net, michaelwest.com.au.


We weren't discussing the uniqueness of low-quality content or clickbait, nor were we even discussing politics. We are discussing the introduction of changes which will largely benefit News Corp who owns 70% of newspaper circulation, Rupert Murdoch isn't even Australian. It boggles my mind an American media mogul (with clear historically proven cases of political bias) cannot only have plenty of influence in the USA, but also here in Australia.

We talk about Google and Facebook being these influential corporate conglomerates (and they are), how bad monopolies are and all the while, News Corp continues to get favours from the Australian government, if it's not millions in no strings attached money, it's laws like these which should not even exist in their current form. And the kicker here is: News Corp doesn't even pay tax in Australia. Thanks to some clever accounting (which others are also guilty of), they pay no tax on their profits and they are expecting us to feel sorry for them? Shouldn't the fact they don't even pay tax be good enough.

There are a lot of clickbait/low-quality news sites, but the ones not owned by Rupert Murdoch or big media companies aren't complaining to the Australian government about how unfair it is Google is linking to their news and providing free snippets. Things get even crazier when you realise that many news sites in Australia (especially News Corp) are already paywalled, many of the links from Google to the news stories results in a paywall notice asking you to pay. You essentially get a headline and an opening paragraph. Sometimes the headlines are clever, but they're not worth paying for. So, are they asking Facebook and Google to pay for the privilege of being able to link to their own site for free, which they are subsequently monetising through ads and subscriptions? None of this makes sense.

I agree that good quality journalism is worth paying for, which is why I personally have both a Crikey subscription as well as a Guardian subscription. I would never pay for the Courier Mail or Australian, the content is subpar and often republished news from other sources. Even former Fairfix news which Nine Entertainment purchased have gone downhill since the purchase.

He may not be Aussie any more, but he was born here to a father involved in news media so it's not really a surprise to me that Australia is one of the places he has an iron fist over media. I mean, he ran media here from the 60s to the 80s before renouncing AU citizenship for US in order to make inroads there.

The state of news media in Australia is utterly dire and I cannot wait for Newscorp to collapse.

His Australian media properties have been losing money for years, long before the recent collapse of advertising revenues. He only runs them as a vanity project, because he enjoys the political power it gives him in his former homeland.

I'm in the same boat, I pay for the guardian, a couple of smaller newspapers and the Australia institute just trying to even out the balance a little bit since Murdoch and what I would now call the extreme right have over 90% of newspaper of newspaper circulation Australia. A really sad state of affairs, the Australian at least used to have some decent conservative articles with a considered opinion but now it's just rabid and unreadable trash.

Nope. You're just wrong. :)


The quality of these properties is categorically just worse than the independents, and there are a lot of them.

There's certainly some bias showing here, but it's not in the parent post.

How is it freeloading? I don’t understand this point of view, but I want to understand your perspective.

Reporter A spends 50 hours researching and writing about a topic. She publishes it on her own blog.

Now I scrape this text (as summary) and display it on my own "Latest news" blog and the original author does often not even get a click-through. I do not think that is fair towards the original author.

If the reporter lives from ads on her blog then she needs traffic, because more traffic is more income.

So bringig traffic to the blog is a big value, so she should pay for this service. But she doesn't, because search engines are free.

News sites can block google and other bots any time on their sites with robots.txt, but they don't because they want the traffic for free, while they even demand money from those who bring the traffic.

>News sites can block google and other bots any time on their sites with robots.txt, but they don't because they want the traffic for free, while they even demand money from those who bring the traffic.

I was feeling different about this topic until you brought this up. I think this is a really good argument. Yes, google scrapes and gets value from what they scrape without paying, however you can block this as a publisher if you don't want this.

The problem these attempts try to adress is that it's not a real choice: doing that would likely end your business, while boycotting would have little effect on google/Facebook. So it's a power struggle where one side doesn't really have a choice, because the other side has all the power.

> So it's a power struggle where one side doesn't really have a choice, because the other side has all the power.

You do have a choice though. You can choose not to use google ads and stop performing SEO and drive business in alternative ways. Further, there are more search engines than just google. If your business model depends on google it may be time to rethink that strategy. Any competent marketing strategy would rely on diversified channels anyway.

The search engines also receive value in being an index or directory that people can use to lookup articles. The situation here is somewhat unique because Google is in a position to reap all of the benefit from this relationship by just scraping the content and displaying it directly to the user.

A comparable scenario would be something like the phone book or yelp where these directories have value to users but they simply refer users to the businesses advertising in the directory.

Same reporter "borrows" a photo/video editorially and doesn't pay the creator[0][1].

[0]: http://gakuran.com/daily-mail-used-my-photos-without-permiss... [1]: https://expertphotography.com/the-daily-mail-stole-my-photos... (Note this guy eventually got paid by chasing)

That would be copyright infringement and is already illegal. Not the topic of discussion.

Isn't that pretty much all news works? After all, investigations are a rarity, and most stories in media outlets are basically sourced/paraphrased from elsewhere. If one site/network/paper finds something interesting like this, you bet anything that every other outlet will have their own story on the subject online in the next few minutes.

To some degree it's also how aggregator sites like Reddit and Hacker News work. Maybe even with anti paywall methods, archivers, etc getting the story in plain text format.


I can't even downvote on this site, but I think it is because your post seems to say Google News copies news without a link to the source, which is not the case.

It seem blatent copyright infringement to me.

The law prevents Google from removing their results. Ie the news companies are freeloading from Google.

Does it prevent it from stop indexing these sites? Imagine it does display "latest news" snippets, but from 3 months ago...

Google is a de-facto monopoly for search.

Use bing or duckduckgo, which you can find via Google: https://www.google.com/search?q=search+engines+that+are+not+...

Exercise your consumer choice.

Until enough people do that, Google still has 90%+ of the general search traffic. De facto monopoly.

Being the superior product while numerous alternatives exist that perform similarly is not a monopoly.

I'm just imagining, similarly to how some search results in the US have a "some search results removed for copyright infringement" footer, many search results in Australia having a "some search results removed for news content" footer. The interesting thing is that since this _explicitly_ only applies to Facebook and Google, any company repackaging Google or Bing search won't have this restriction, at least until they get big enough to be worth rewriting the law for.

Only Google and Facebook?

1.30 The Government has announced that the code will apply to Facebook and Google. Accordingly, the Treasurer is expected to make an instrument specifying Facebook Inc. and Google LLC as designated digital platform corporations.

Called out by name as the only two companies the law applies to.

So does that mean having a hyper-link to a news article needs to be paid for? (Genuine question!)

That's what I wondered too. From the article, it seems like they're only targeting Facebook and Google for now. To apply the law equally, it seems like it should affect all websites that link to or copy the meta description tag of a news site.

So those media-rich preview pop-ups for hyperlinks in almost all IM apps would be also affected, no?

This is what happens when you make a string of 10-30 characters someones property.

I'd guess this only applies to snippets, not simple hyperlinks, so Google could get away by showing headlines only.

However, that is just complete speculation as I haven't seen the actual law, and the afr.com article is behind paywall for me.

“Discrimination in this context will be considered to occur if the news content of a registered news business is disadvantaged in comparison to other news content in terms of the crawling, indexing, ranking, display, presentation or other process undertaken by the digital platform on any service provided by the digital platform, on the basis of the registered news business' participation in the code.” https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20EM%2...

Mr Sims here is ACCC chairman Rod Sims. The same who rammed through so many terrible decisions around the NBN, just as one example, including the POI decision which in one fell swoop eradicated all bits of ISP competition that had arisen in the ADSL2+ space. Funny thing for a "Competition and Consumer Commission" to do, yet here we are. Internode's blood is on his hands.

Well I agree re the PoI, but internode did pretty well, they got a $100M exit; lots of other ISPs and suppliers hit the wall. It was a nightmare decision to go from what, 7 POIs to over 200? Made no sense at all. Mind you the entire NBN from soup to nuts has been and remains a disaster.

Sent from my faulty HFC NBN (gone down 4 times in the last 2 days)

Google: OK.

Australian news media: No, come back!

I don't see how their demand work out well for them.

There's a lot of countries moving this direction. The problem is, Google is more powerful than most countries these days. Google can afford to cut a country off and let them suffer until they relent.

All of these countries need to unify on this requirement at the same time. Google can cut Australia off, but can they cut off Australia, France, and Spain off? What about Australia and the entire European Union?

I think the media companies are in the wrong. Google is providing a beneficial arrangement, and the media companies are demanding that google pays them.

Google has been bleeding the media dry. One of the graphs shown yesterday during the antitrust hearing was about how Google has shifted it's original business model of showing ads on third party sites (where they have to give most of the revenue to those sites, funding those sites) to a business model of showing ads predominantly on it's own sites, where it keeps all of the ad revenue.

Every single year, Google's ad business shifts more revenue from the "shares with third party sites" segment over to the "keeps all of it" segment. So while Google Search used to heavily fund news, every year, Google's cut gets bigger, and news orgs' cut gets smaller.

The second graph here is what was shown in the hearing, and shows the numbers pulled from Alphabet's reports: https://medium.com/beyond-devices/googles-increasing-relianc... "Google Network Members" effectively refers to website owners like news publishers which display ads.

> Google has been bleeding the media dry.

I don't think that's a fair characterization. Would you say that Ford bled blacksmiths and carriage makers dry? Technology moves on. Newspapers are dying because their business model blows in the current infoscape. People spend most of their attention on things other than news, and news is the ultimate information commodity.

> Every single year, Google's ad business shifts more revenue from the "shares with third party sites" segment over to the "keeps all of it" segment.

The linked article shows that the "keeps all of it" portion has been growing faster than the "shares with third party sites" portion. I don't think it's fair to say that they shift revenue from one to the other.

> So while Google Search used to heavily fund news, every year, Google's cut gets bigger, and news orgs' cut gets smaller.

This is not shown by the data in the linked article. Clicks and CPC are slightly down for "shares with third party sites" but that does not say anything about news sites in particular.

> One of the graphs shown yesterday during the antitrust hearing was about how Google has shifted it's original business model of showing ads on third party sites (where they have to give most of the revenue to those sites, funding those sites) to a business model of showing ads predominantly on it's own sites, where it keeps all of the ad revenue.

Do you have a link to the graph? My understanding was that Google's original business model was "provide a search engine, and show ads on it", and showing ads on third-party sites is newer?

(Disclosure: I work at Google, speaking only for myself)

The graph is in the link above. The revenue shift is constantly moving away from sites where Google shares revenue with other sites, such as news publishers, and increasing on Google's own properties, which do not get shared with news publishers.

This explains why journalism is running out of money while Google is worth over a trillion. By lifting their content and keeping users (and ad views) directly on Google, Google profits at content producers' expense.

Re: "originally", I was probably wrong there. DoubleClick in 2008 was where Google absorbed this side of the ad business, I believe. But it was the side that was fundamental to journalism.

There was a time when Google could argue it's ad platforms was sponsoring the free web and all, but that's increasingly no longer the case.

"journalism" is running out of money because there is no journalism anymore, it is activism, and propaganda disguised as "journalism"

They are losing money not because of Google, but because they are in a Twitter echo chamber feeding off each other and aliening large parts of their audience

So... if all countries at once said "Pay us for listing news.com" at the same time... and google said "go stuff yourself" and de-listed news.com globally...

How would that be different than 1 country at a time?

If Google refused to list news that they had to pay to list... across the board... Seems like it's simply making the process easier for Google as it'll be a one time fight.

Google will outlast the EU. Tensions have been high for years and Brexit seems to have less repercussions than initially thought. On top of that you have Germany strong arming France into giving weak nations billions. Its shaky from the weakest to the strongest countries.

You think Germany is the one strong arming France into this? Germany has always been one of the countries most against fiscal transfers.

Brexit seems to have less repercussions than initially thought because it hasn't happened yet! The UK is still in the single market and the customs union till end end of the year.

> Brexit seems to have less repercussions than initially thought

There are still agreements. Let's see in 2021. The question if the UK requires quarantine of its tourists coming back from Spain will be overshadowed by the question if the tourists get there in the first place.

> you have Germany strong arming France into giving weak nations billions

Rather the other way around.

Why is it not possible to just change their robots file and cut out Google that way. Then if they don't like it they can discuss terms, no law needed.

They could any time they wanted to, googlebot respects robots.txt prohibitions. They want google to direct traffic to their websites and they want google to pay for the privilege...

I feel like this is the weakest take on the argument.

They want google to pay for re-hosting /lifting any content (previews, headlines, etc.). Linking is just caught in the crossfire, if it's even mentioned.

If we are being honest, the majority of people read headlines and don't bother with more than the first paragraph or summary of the article. This is all displayed on Google properties where users don't even leave the Google infrastructure.

Is Google providing a service? Definitely. Does online news depend on Google? Definitely. Is Google's relationship with them abusive? Definitely.

> They want google to pay for re-hosting

That's odd, usually companies pay Google to host their content via GCP

That way they won't be able to profit off of Facebook and Google's successes :)

Could they just not operate in Australia and give the proverbial middle finger to their government. Then just continue to link as they choose?

Yes and I hope they do. It's a bad law. If you have your news open and accessible on the internet without users having to authorize themselves then it's public information at that point.

Block it by a paywall. But they wouldn't do that because they would stop showing up in search engines. Google is providing a free service by directing traffic to these companies.

Reminds me of the LinkedIn case about bots crawling their website.

Australia is not the first country to pass a law like this. Spain and France have both done some version of this as well. There's going to be a point where enough countries stand up to them that they can't just withdraw without substantially hurting their own business long-term.

I think the EU and Australia massively over estimate the amount of money their "news" links bring to google.

For google this will be a pure economics game, and when they passed the other laws Google looked at the numbers and noped out.

The same will be true for Australia.

I do not see the UK, US, or any of the emerging economies pulling this, so the EU and Australia will alone in this battle and the amount of money being demanded it seems to me most likely exceeds google profit, so they will just end the service to the nations, and blacklist the sites from search

Search will be fine because 3rd party sites will be indexed so it will be a 2 hope, and given the incestuous nature of "news" today where every story is written more or less than same on 100+ sites all over the globe I am sure people will find the news they are looking for just fine with out those sites in the index

The Eu and Australia are massively overplaying their hand

I haven't noticed any affect from Spain and France doing this. Recent earning shave been great. As long as they have the US they'll fine. And I don't see Asian ex-China and Eastern Europe pulling this any time soon

And who would be daft enough to take a niche which involves paying to advertise for others?

They can unite and tantrum all they want but it won't change the underlying reality any more than fervent demands for a "good people only" backdoor encryption won't exist.

I feel like this is going to backfire. What if Google just dualists Australian media from search results because they don't want to pay royalties? What if they start charging the media companies to be included in search results in order to cover the cost?

Thank you to the several people who have posted a link to the bill itself. I'll add to the pile to make it easier to see: https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20EM%2...

There's something interesting in there that nobody in this discussion has yet mentioned, nor does the original news article, section 52S:

    Subsection (2) applies if the registered news
    business corporation for the registered news
    business makes a request, in writing, to the
    responsible digital platform corporation for
    the digital platform service to do any of the

     (a) ensure that the registered news business
         corporation is provided with flexible
         content moderation tools that allow
         the registered news business corporation
         to remove or filter comments on the registered
         news business’ covered news content that:
      (i) are made using the digital platform service; and
      (ii) are made on a part of the digital platform
           service that is set up and able to be edited
           by the registered news business;

     (b) ensure that the registered news business
         corporation can disable the making of such

     (c) ensure that the registered news business
         corporation can block the making of such comments:
      (i) by particular persons; or
      (ii) in particular circumstances.
If I am reading this correctly (a big if!), this gives the news corporations the right to exert complete control over all "comments" on their news articles on these "digital platform services", meaning that, for instance, Hacker News or Reddit, if covered by this law, would no longer be independent sites to discuss news, but would be forcibly placed under the control of the news site. (Not sure those sites would be covered, just using that as an example.)

So if the newspaper leans X, they can shut down all the comments from people who lean the other way, or people who disagree with the article, or anything they like (possibly subject to other laws, but certainly no restrictions are placed here).

That's... full of implications, to say the least.

Unless I'm misreading, "and are made on a part of the digital platform service that is set up and able to be edited by the registered news business" suggests this only applies to the news agency's own social media pages. I.E. they wouldn't be able to censor comments on links to their content posted by third parties.

> suggests this only applies to the news agency's own social media pages

1.88 seems to indicate that pretty clearly, providing this example:

“In the case of a social media service such as Facebook, this rule deals with the situation where the news business has posted its covered news content on the news business’ own social media page. Comments on the news business’ articles posted by somebody else on another Facebook page are not covered by this law ”

(For context, I'm not trying to be alarmist, merely observe something interesting that I acknowledge I may not fully understand that nobody else was talking about.)

Even that is pretty amazing on its own terms, essentially carving out the new's site on those platforms. Interestingly, I don't see it taking away control from the host, either, so either of them ought to be able to censor. It would be interesting to see a vigorously anti-Facebook article get posted on Facebook, with Facebook nuking everyone supportive of the article and the news site nuking everyone arguing against it. (And both of the nuking the "where are all the comments?" comments.)

Is there someone knowledgeable about Australian law that can explain how the "clarification" stands in relation to the actual law? In the US system, where AFAIK such clarifications would have low priority vs. the actual text of the law, I'd be nervous as a "digital platform provider" relying on the clarification to save me from the text of the law, which to my eyes do not contain that carveout, but under a different system these may be given higher priority.

(& with all due respect to the many fine Internet Lawyers (TM) on HN, International Internet Lawyers (TM) even, I am asking for people who actually know. I can provide myself with all the knowledge-free speculation I need already.)

It's worthwhile noting that the courts have been holding media companies responsible for the comments on their pages which I imagine at least some part of the motivation for this.


Social media content isn't hosted on their property. If they can't comply with such laws they should delete these accounts rather than claim digital squatter's rights.

Isn't Facebook arguing that they have become a public square though? If we accept that argument, then they can't have it both ways - a merchant who has set up a booth on the public common is not a squatter. While subject to the rules of the common, they still retain full control over their booth and wares.

Yes they are, but it’s not entirely up to them. The other side is arguing that they are just a publisher.

It remains to be seen where they end up.

The text you quoted contains the carve-out: the comments must be “made on a part of the digital platform service that is set up and able to be edited by the registered news business.” If the text of a law is ambiguous or obscure, courts can consider extrinsic material, including the explanatory memorandum, in interpreting it: https://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/aia190123...

To be fair most news outlets get their news from news aggregators like Reuters. Hardly any news outlet does its own investigation/News search these days. So what stops Google to do the same and buy its news from a news aggregator instead of showing the Australian news site links and yet not leaving a space for competitors.

I think it was 1 or 2 years ago that one of the news sites were successfully sued for failing to remove hate speech in Facebook comments on a news story they shared. From memory, the judge basically said that if they can’t follow the law on Facebook then they shouldn’t be on it.

I could also be misreading this, but that caveat seems to apply only to 2(a) and not 2(b) or 2(c). I haven't yet read the surrounding context so it's possible those are further restricted as well, but I don't think 2(a)(ii) applies to the other two sections at least.

2(a)(ii) is picked up by (b) and (c) because they refer to “such comments,” ie. comments as defined in (a).

Ah! Yup, you're right - I misread then.

>, this gives the news corporations the right to exert complete control over all "comments" on their news articles on these "digital platform services", meaning that, for instance, Hacker News or Reddit, if covered by this law, would no longer be independent sites to discuss news, but would be forcibly placed under the control of the news site.

Using Google search, I don't know if I found the canonical draft but using this pdf[1] as the source, the excerpt says:

>Which digital platforms must participate in the code?

1.29 A digital platform must participate in the code if the Treasurer has made a determination specifying a designated digital platform corporation. The Treasurer may also specify one or more designated digital platform services. [Schedule 1, item 1, section 52C]

1.30 The Government has announced that the code will apply to Facebook and Google. Accordingly, the Treasurer is expected to make an instrument specifying Facebook Inc. and Google LLC as designated digital platform corporations.

1.31 ‘Digital platform’ is not defined in the Bill, but is intended to capture platforms that deliver a wide variety of services such as social media services, search engines and other digital content aggregators.

1.32 A ‘digital platform service’ is a service that is provided by the designated digital platform corporation, either by itself or together with one or more related corporations. A given digital platform will normally provide multiple digital services, such as messaging, search, content curation and other content sharing services.[Schedule 1, item 1, section 52B]


The way I as a layman read it is... "the law is targeted at giants like Google & Facebook and not Hacker News".

So, HN is spared not because it doesn't meet some strict criteria of what "digital platform is". Instead, HN won't be a target because it's too small to bother with.

[1] https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20EM%2...

It feels like a code smell (law smell?) to name specific corporations in the text of a law. It's the legislative equivalent of hardcoding.

I believe the usual term is a "bill of attainder". The US has a long-standing constitutional prohibition on doing this, though apparently Australia does not.

I think you'll find the US often has lists of corporations and people overseas that US corporations and persons are not allowed to work with/for. The US also has provisions designating companies as of national security importance and other areas.

This draft law allows the relevant government minister (in this case the Treasurer) to designate certain corporations as subject to this law. The corporations have access to the courts to challenge the designation and requirements of "natural justice" have been applied to ministerial actions by the courts.

Facebook and Google aren’t hard-coded into the law. The law applies to “designated digital platform corporations.” The executive government can add or remove companies from the list at “runtime” (without passing a new bill), but the explanatory memorandum linked above says that initially only Facebook and Google will be designated.

Thanks for the clarification, I can see that now after rereading, that makes sense.

Yes, I should clarify I was not intending to ring the alarm bell as if Hacker News is directly under attack. Most likely HN is completely not subject to Australian jurisdiction, and even if it was, there's no money to squeeze from HN anyhow. I just meant it as an exemplar of a type of site that could be affected.

You're aware of Y Combinator, right? Plenty of money to squeeze from that (roughly $100bn)...

First, Y Combinator has to be in Australia. I don't know if funding a company there would be enough; suspect not. I don't know whether they have funded an Australian company.

And I'm not going to look, because secondly, even if Australia did somehow get its hooks in to HN to some significant degree, and there was no escape, Y Combinator would simply shut down HN. It's nice enough of them to run it as it is, but expecting them to play by these rules to do it is unreasonable. If they were feeling particularly friendly they might spin it off or something. (Turning it into a subscription service is probably feasible at this point, for instance.) Unlike Google or Facebook, HN is not their core business, and shutting off at this point could even be a net gain for quite a few years. The rep gain that HN afforded them is mostly realized now.

There's no way for Australia to squeeze Y Combinator through HN.

> ‘Digital platform’ is not defined in the Bill

This part says that who the bill applies to will be defined later, by the Executive power.

> if the newspaper leans X, they can shut down all the comments from people who lean the other way, or people who disagree with the article

And make no mistake about it - ALL the media in Australia owned by essentially one person, so there is a lot of leaning.

Section 1.89 in the Exposure Draft clarifies this, I think:

> 1.89 In the case of a social media service such as Facebook, this rule deals with the situation where the news business has posted its covered news content on the news business’ own social media page. Comments on the news business’ articles posted by somebody else on another Facebook page are not covered by this law.

If I read this right, they don't need a way to filter comments on a link to their article that someone else posts, just comments underneath one of their own posts. Still not great, but less intrusive than that text you quoted seemed to imply (I couldn't find in that exact wording in your link).

This is probably driven by a precedent set recently in Australia where media organisations were found to be legally responsible for any defamatory comments on their stories in Facebook.


At least for HN, because it's not taking money from Australians, I don't think it's a concern. YC can tell the Australians to get bent and there's nothing they can do. Reddit might be more of a concern because it tries to convince people to buy stuff.

It's talking about Twitter, where you post content and Twitter forces other people's comments (retweets/replies) onto the same page as it.

Actually, recently there was a court cases where a news organisation (News Ltd) was sued for defamation because of comments about an article posted to Facebook.

Which is nuts. And which this legislation is trying to, rather ham-handedly, fix. Also, it puts pressure on Facebook, which may actually be the secondary purpose.

I really hope they just block all the news sites from their platforms. Let's see how they like it when thier traffic dries up. From other reporting I've read the law does say they have to treat domestic and international news the same so it could cause an issue with that approach.

There was actually a study about an impact a news aggregator has on news consumption. It turns out an impact is noticable but small: around 10-20% for different metrics: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/working-papers...

The real newspapers (or what is left of them) can still be found offline in stores, so Google is not required to find them online.

I rarely google to find a serious publication. Perhaps it would be a good thing if Google stops indexing news sites.

Article states that they’ll be fined for doing that too.

then just turn off the CC and don't serve them at all.

We just found a legislative way to break the Google search monopoly - more countries pass this sort of "pay to play" barrier, and Google says no, and then there's space for competitors.

Wouldn't the competitors then have to do the same thing though, thereby reducing the incentive to compete?

It would bring up opportunity for alternative models for news instead of being tied to search/feed.

There's nothing preventing the news from alternative models now. It just turns out employing a bunch of people to repost tweets isn't a profitable business and forcing other companies to pay them via the law doesn't work any better.

I can't imagine the population of any country would be too happy when google.com returns a "Service discontinued due to law blah blah blah" when they want to look up how to beat eggs.

Yeah, honestly, that's what I hope they do. The amount of entitlement and this holier than thou attitude among the media is pretty annoying. Figure out how to make money like any other business. And if you can't, we'll then I guess you don't matter that much.

This decision is crony capitalism at its worst.

An amusing angle on this situation. If you go back thirty or twenty years, it is hard to think of an industry better-positioned to capture the momentum of the internet than the news media.

(1) They had teams of people producing regular fresh content, to a high quality.

(2) They had existing subscriber bases, which could have been converted to other purposes (consider the online dating services offered by some of the UK newspapers.)

(3) They had existing economies of scale from business lines which were not dependent on the internet, buffering them against dot com downturns and the like.

(4) Several of them had other divisions producing other good content. e.g. motion picture rights.

(5) They had international presence, and internal connectivity.

(6) Many had existing consumer-connectivity through cable relationships.

Yet. None created geek-friendly workplaces, they were too tied to their cash cows, and they have done badly.

I would 100% support this mindset if tech giants paid taxes where they make their money. I don't know what the situation is like in Australia but in Europe it's pretty insane. You can't abuse the system on one side and then argue the "efficient market hypothesis" on the other.

Google&friends are not making money and competing "like any other business".

How does exploiting tax loopholes have anything to do with the success of news media? Arbitrary fines and taxes are one thing. Forcing Google and Facebook to help the news sets a completely new precedent.

Countries are competing in a market for tax revenue too. If a country wants more tax revenue from a business, they can either close the legal loopholes that allow the business to reduce the amount of tax that they pay or make their tax laws more competitive with those of other countries.

OMG, this is golden. It's a race to the bottom. It ends up completely destroying states and replacing them with corporations.

I like your comment, not sure if you are joking though. A few decades ago when I started reading William Gibson’s cyber punk sci-fi, I often wondered if the corporate run enclaves in his stories would anticipate real events.

Neal Stephenson - "Snow Crash". Even the U.S. Government is reduced to a "franchulate".

If the police are defunded, I'd bet that private security companies would fill the void and we'd be well on our way to "Stephensonion" being the next "Orwellian"!

> Google&friends are not making money and competing "like any other business".

I don't understand this. Can you explain, please?

Have a look at these. If you can afford to pay lawyers to set schemes up like this, then you are at a competitive advantage against businesses which pay regular tax.




Take the billions of dollars that you've saved from BEPS and use it to subsidize your local products, or run ads attacking the competition, or taking them to court, or hire salespeople, or build new content. Simple.

Several big-enough companies use tax loopholes to avoid paying taxes or lobby the government themselves.

This is not specific to big tech though, it's a single point of failure of having a centralised government that is easily corrupted by rich corporations.

sorry, again, I'm not following you. How does the ineffectiveness of tax regimes mean that Google and friends aren't competing like a normal business?

This reads like sealioning. You really can't see why an entity A that gives 1% in taxes is at an advantage in competing with an entity that gives say 20% in taxes?

but this behaviour (as said above) is not unique to tech. All sufficiently large, sufficiently multinational businesses effectively stop paying the full rate of tax

Situation in Australia is that they pay zero.

look to the law MAKERS, not the law followers.

Right and say BMW, VW etc are not doing the exact same thing? There is trade imbalance between US and say Germany if both sides introduce equivalent measures it will hurt EU more than it hurts US.

BMW and VW are not doing the exact same thing. They pay taxes to the US IRS for their profits made in the US. The argument against Google and Facebook is based on their use of profit-shifting to avoid taxes on European profits.

> They pay taxes to the US IRS for their profits made in the US.

That's plain wrong. Every company only pays income tax in its country of residence. The only difference is that there might be a sales tax for physical goods.

>Every company only pays income tax in its country of residence.

That is not correct. Taxes are payable wherever the profits are made.

It is usually the case that the country where the company is headquartered will have a far greater proportion of profits compared to revenue because a lot of the things that add value happen there, but in the case of large tech companies, this is taken to the extreme, where not just profits, but even revenue itself is shifted from where the business actually happens.

For example, Google reported £1.6bn (US$2.1bn) in revenue and paid £44m ($58m) in corporation taxes (on profits of £231m ($303m) based on a 19% tax rate) in the UK for the 2019-20 financial year, but its actual UK revenue is estimated to be around £5.7b ($7.5b) for the same period.[1]

Whereas car companies have consumers as their customers and have to pay sales tax, AdWords expenditure by businesses is considered a business expense and is not taxed (in the UK). If they played by the same rules, they would have paid around £1.14b ($1.5b; based on 20% VAT) in tax in 2019-20, instead of £44m.

1. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/07/google-uk...

> Taxes are payable wherever the profits are made.

No, with regard to income tax that's simply wrong.

That said, public companies typically have subsidiaries in other countries and these subsidiaries have to pay corporate income tax in their country of residence (but also regardless of where the profits are actually made). This is often used to avoid (or delay) tax payments, especially if the subsidiaries are in low-tax countries.

But if the parent company Apple Inc. sold an iPhone in Germany, they wouldn't have to pay income tax in Germany, just like BMW AG doesn't have to pay income tax in the US.

I thought the foreign car companies in the US avoid a lot of taxes by paying a license fee for the cars back to their home country.

That's wrong. It's also well known, western companys pay no taxes for factorys in 3rd world countrys since ever. Even they produce real things in a country.

We heard that argument so often during the Brexit referendum. It turned out to be rubbish.

Are you seriously comparing size of UK market with the size of US market?

US Sales represent 14.7% of BMW's exports, UK is 9.2%. It is cleary comparable.

> And if you can't, we'll then I guess you don't matter that much.

This is not true for the media. A functioning, critical, and trustworthy media is very important to society.

Profit ≈ importance is just flat out wrong in general.

(Not saying I agree with this govt intervention)

I hear the media say this all around the world all the time, and they of course always mean themselves... But is it true? There are many and many independent reporters with their blogs and twitters (do we call that media?), independent news sites (that probably is media) that are not with the mainstream media on these legal requirements, and actually in my country the mainstream media is so corrupt a half of the population simply does not care about them and get their news from other sources, like blogs and twitter.

I'm not sure you understand what media is in this country. Its all garbage.

Even the "fair and unbiased" govt funded ABC is a total toothless joke.


> I'm not sure you understand what media is in this country. Its all garbage.

> Even the "fair and unbiased" govt funded ABC is a total toothless joke.

> https://youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=HtV-2X4BjQI

I don't know much about the Australian media, but I do know a citation to a random youtube comedian does not convincingly support such a statement.

Thats fair, and I would question anyone getting all their news from the Daily show or last week tonight. Its incredibly biased.

Australia's problem is that our news orgs are corrupt to the core, every journo is afraid to go against Murdoch in any way shape or form their careers are ended if they do.

So here we are, with this "comedian," doing a better reporting job than pretty much every single outlet in the country. With very few exceptions.

Climate change protests https://youtube.com/watch?v=HTAzb7UbJ6M

Darling river fuck up https://youtube.com/watch?v=gNbSazIqVYA

Fatty mc fuck face https://youtu.be/WmJ7CSRRCDM

Misinformed journalism https://youtube.com/watch?v=3tTqyZQsG5A

They’re kinda doing this to themselves with the paywalls or account login walls (medium comes to mind). I haven’t read a NYT article in months.

Firefox containers are your friend.

Not when they force login to read.

Typical mainstream coverage of a tech story that glosses over all the detail, leaving everyone in this thread to speculate about all the details, such as which results it applies to and how will they distribute the revenue.

My 2p guess is it's all about snippets and any other displayed information which would stop the user proceeding to an external result. Some % of total revenue distributed to owners of the snippet content, though it would be hard to determine the breakdown even for a single result page.

> how will they distribute the revenue

There won't be any revenue. Ever since France implemented their version of the "meme tax", where a tax would be charged when websites would want to use news snippets, what search engines did was simply drop the snippets. Example:


Google doesn't seem to do this. It's unclear to me if they are paying this fee or just don't care.

The exposure draft doesn’t give Google/Facebook the right to opt out by “discriminating” against (ie. dropping) protected news sources. Refusing to comply with this could be punished with an infringement notice under Australian law. https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20Bill...

> The exposure draft doesn’t give Google/Facebook the right to opt out by “discriminating” against (ie. dropping) protected news sources.

It doesn't permit digital service corporations from discriminating against protected news sources on account of their participation in the system. It does seem to permit actions that affect all news sources equally.

However, more frustrating and worrisome to me is that the exposure draft doesn't seem to define what conduct by Google/etc triggers these provisions. Some clauses apply to news content "made available" by the platform, but there's no definition in this bill of what "made available" means.

That could be read to require some sort of hosting of the content (e.g., rehosting an article or using a long extract), or it could be read to include mere linking. That's a huge difference: Hacker News could be a 'digital platform service' under the latter definition, but not the former.


The text of the law does not seem to cover this option.

> in comparison to other news content

They can stop showing news as such.

How will they determine what counts as "news"? Are there be significant penalties if whatever algorithm they come up with to decide what counts as "news" has any false negatives? If so, that might make "stop showing news" an unworkable approach.

Yes, I think the last line in the anti-discrimination section is there specifically to thwart that, but one can still easily imagine a lot of legal acrobatics to get out of that.

>How will they determine what counts as "news"?

the same way that they decide who to pay.

As previously stated above, that method is explicitly disallowed by the law:

> Responsible digital platform corporations may not discriminate between the news businesses participating in the code, or between participants and non-participants, because of their participation in the code.


The hole here for them is to not accommodate non-participants

I don't get what you're trying to say. If Google stops showing news from participants, but show news from non-participants (due to false negatives causing their algorithm to fail to identify those sites as news), would that not be obvious discrimination according to the above quote?

the Grandparent is saying Google will simply stop showing all news from Australia, regardless of if the news organization is a participant or not.

Thus they would not be in violation of the law as all Australia news sources would be blacklists, not just those participating

That just comes back to my original comment then. How do you determine what counts as "all news"?

You can't just use the list of "businesses participating in the code" because that's considered discriminatory and illegal under the new law. And if you decide using any other method, you risk accidentally classifying one of the "businesses participating in the code" as "not news" and showing it in search results anyway, which is also illegal under this law.

The best solution I can think of would be to use the list of businesses participating in the code as a starting point, and then add other non-participants through some other method. But then you run into a similar problem: what happens if you accidentally classify a non-participant as "not news" and they see a surge of traffic because they're one of the only news organizations in Australia that shows up in Google search results? Wouldn't that also be considered discriminatory and illegal under the new law, since that organization wouldn't have shown up in the results if they were a participant?

I'm fairly sure that Google already has algorithmic classification for "news" that's accurate enough for these purposes. If not, "is this a news article" is quite amenable to machine learning techniqes. All that's left is ensuring that registered news sources are definitely classified as news.

It seems likely to me that Google will fight that part of it in court. Paying for the content...battle lost. Being forced to surface the content, not so much.

I mean, that's like the government saying that not only do you have to pay a toll when you use CityLink (okay, user pays) but it is mandatory to use that road as the only option, and that you must use it every day.

I really don't see how that can stop Google from dropping news from the search results completely. Or coming to an arrangement with Fairfax, where they pay a tiny amount, and nothing to NewsCorp.

Google and FB both argued that they send traffic worth of 200M to these publishers? What if they start charging for clicks? Earlier the argument was that they were doing it for free and not getting anything out of it. Now, since they have to pay, its only fair that they charge for the services (ie the traffic through clicks) they provide too

I am sure they will fight to minimise their costs one way or another. Rather than challenging the validity of the law, another strategy might be to submit to the arbitral process and come up with a strong argument that, for the purposes of section 52ZP(2)(b), the "benefit (whether monetary or otherwise) of the registered news business’ covered news content to the digital platform service" is negligible, and for (2)(d), any "remuneration amount would place an undue burden on the commercial interests of the digital platform service." https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Exposure%20Draft%20Bill...

If this is true, how do you enforce it? Send goons to California to beat it out of them? If Google has no presence in Australia they can simply block the whole country. Or replace the home page with a "Your country is out of order" 404.

Google has a significant presence in Australia, including an office, many employees, data centres, and bank accounts for accepting payments from Australian customers. It would be very unusual for a company like Google to blatantly violate Australian laws and refuse to pay the fines, so it’s unclear how the Australian government would respond if that happened.

How do they have no encryption in Australia and yet Google still have offices there? Seems very strange to me, don't even know how it works.

What's the word for racketeering, but when the government does it?


So I'd wager the approach was successful, though not necessarily the desired results. However, if the rest of the world followed suit, they can't host snippets anymore and they'll be forced to pay or give up that feature, no?

Doubt it would happen, because if suddenly almost every news publication refuses to allow their news snippets to show up on Google, those publications that decide to go against the grain and personally allow their news snippets to show up on Google stand to gain a lot from it.

Yeah, can anyone explain to me how FB/G are actually accused of giving paid content away for free? All the Murdoch content is behind paywalls in Aus. Is it literally just headlines and the free 3 sentences or whatever a scraper/aggregator would display?

Isn't that the perennial problem even with sites like HN? A significant amount of people derive value from reading headlines and short snippets of content?

Isn't this also a method pay-walled sites use to get subscribers? Otherwise, why not just block Google in robots.txt?

They still want to be found. They just also want to be paid for the privilege of being listed on a search result page.

Google should just start putting a huge red box around pay walled articles. It would basically indicate "don't bother with this site"

As a user, i would actually love if Google had that feature natively. I assume there is a way to have that functionality already by using some browser extensions. But a native implementation by Google would be a killer feature imo.

Implementing it would essentially require the browser knowing if you have logins/subscriptions. Taken further they could personalize searches to only include paywalled sites if you have a login as opposed to marking them as "don't bother".

Google would only require 2 things. If a site has a paywallz and if the user whitelisted it. I have black listed most paywall sites manually on my Google feed. So they are obviously capable and already doing the latter.

And the blacklisting is easy. A click of the button and it's off my list

This is the best way to do it: just paywall your articles.

The internet made people believe everything is free. But free news is either propaganda or a disguised ad.

The problem is that they all have their own account management. I'd be ok with paying a subscription service that gave access to several sites and took care of distributing revenue per usage, but managing dozens of subscriptions is a hassle.

Pressreader offers something a bit like that.

I don't think that is a fair assessment, there is also free news that is openly ad-supported i.e. there are ads surrounding the news on the page, but the content itself is not advertising anything

Newspapers are actually not supported by ads, that was always merely a bonus. Most of their income came from subscriptions. Every serious journalist medium is going back to paywalls/subs. If people don't think its worth the money journalism should die but I think it will survive.

It's not that they're giving paid content away for free, it's that they're extracting copyrighted content and profiting from it (without compensating the copyright holder).

I don't know if it technically falls afoul of existing legislation but clearly the old laws aren't really up to the job of regulating that. They weren't designed for it.

> It's not that they're giving paid content away for free, it's that they're extracting copyrighted content and profiting from it (without compensating the copyright holder).

Wouldn't that imply that they simply have to pay to be displayed as it would be advertisement? Ergo they will get removed and not get any advertisement anymore as a result.

Didn't Spain try to do the same thing with Google News, which just ended up with them shutting down the product in Spain?


The article says that European countries "tried and failed" to rein in the tech giants. Although I'm not sure if shutting down Google News is actually "tried and failed" so much as "tried and succeeded, but not according to first preference".

I mean, if you can't go to google news to get your news, maybe you do go directly to the website of some major news company (and get a monoculture).

While it's not the selling point politically, I think those lobbying for things like this are very much happy with any monoculture that results.

With services like Google News, people can get exposed to news from various media outlets, but by killing it through lobbying for absurd regulatory burdens on aggregators the well known larger outlets can choke out access to their competition. This of course is hampered to some extent by the reality that many will just rely on other users posting on social media for news updates, and if that too is choked out through regulation on platforms, many will probably just skip the news or reduce their consumption in favor of other things like entertainment.

I used to use Google News to find different articles from different companies whenever a news story interested me. It was good to get often very different points of view.

I now just spend a little time on Apple News+ to skim what is happening. While I am locking myself more into a mono culture just looking at US news, I decided that I needed to greatly decrease the amount of time I spent on the news every day.

The world situation is what it is. I try to accept the world as-is, invest as little time as possible understanding the world and concentrate on my own productivity, fellowship with friends and family, and generally appreciating culture and nature.

News watching is an addiction that too many of my friends have.

Don't remember the details, but I know smaller publishers were hit pretty hard by Google News closing in Spain.

Danish news have never been on Google News, even though Google News launched in Sweden and Norway. Back around 2005-2006, the Danish newspapers fought hard to forbid "systematic deep linking" to their news.

We're still able to find Danish news by Google search though, it's only the aggregation that Danish media is afraid of, as they are afraid to loose out on a lot of income on the ads they show while people browse their websites.

Yup. I was in Spain from March to May. It was annoying to be in the habit of typing "news.google.com" when trying to get news on COVID-19. It wasn't hard to bypass, but it was annoying.

It wasn't for me it's hard, in reverse. I no longer live in Spain, haven't for 10 years. But every time I go to Google News I get the message of it not being available in my country. My primary language in my Google account isn't Spanish, my address isn't in Spain, my Google Wallet has a non Spanish card on it, so on and so forth, yet I can only access Google News when I'm logged out.

A similar thing happened to me. All of Google's products (Search, Maps, Translate, etc.) come up for me in Dutch.

The weird part is, I am not Dutch, do not speak Dutch, and have never been to the Netherlands.

Plot twist... You live in the north of Belgium & speak Flemish.

Off topic but I had the same issue. Did you change your Google payment profile? (which has nothing to do with all the profile addresses you can set in various places)


Because you can't actually change your country on your Google payment profile. You need to create a new one and then switch the new one.

I had to do this to switch my US account to an EU account with the EU GDPR user consent options. Your Google account is tied to the payment profile country AFAIK.

Already done, payment profile isn't Spain either. The fact that Google user support is literal black hole made me just accept this fact.

I like how they recommend the Mexican edition instead

Which makes no sense, except for international news... And maybe not even that

I'm confused about who the news belongs to. I always have it in my head that if your name's in the news, then the news should be paying you. Because it's your news and they're taking it and selling it as their product. But then they always say that they're helping you, and that's true too, but still, if people didn't give the news their news, and if everybody kept their news to themselves, the news wouldn't have any news. So I guess you should pay each other. But I haven't figured it out fully yet.

-- Andy Warhol

Journalism is printing what someone else does not want published; everything else is public relations.

-- George Orwell (possibly wrongly attributed)

Someone with enough clout and reach should start a mass movement spanning the world. There will be lots of supporters. Clearly people who create news (and legally should be considered owners of that news) should be compensated by publishers who profit from that news. It will have far reaching social impact. It will provide monetary benefits to people who decide to sell their news stories and also solve the problem of online privacy. Point is sports bodies have long argued that they own the content they create. Why is the same not true for individuals as well? Of course politics will have to be made an exception.

Who has to pay whom for reporting on a congressional scandal?

The reporter needs to get paid. Usually a publisher will pay them and publish the story. Everyone else running the story is a leech. Places sharing headlines and linking to the proper publisher are usually helpful.

But the reporter didn't create the news, they just reported it. The news was created by whoever was involved in the scandal, so they should be paid.

Says the guy who took other people’s images and sold them...

You should read his bio.

every artist does that. he just did it in a straight, sorryless way. hence the concept in his conceptual art.

> every artist does that.

Um, no.

Clearly he’s making a joke...

Andy Warhol wouldn't be on HN I guess.

Warhol had a fascinating perspective on mass-produced pop culture, having enough insight to pretty much game the system

That's why Macintosh and he was a perfect match, one took pictures the other took windows-es (xerox) ;)

I don't think anyone has figured it out yet, because if you aren't paying for news, then you are the product and not the consumer, and yet most news is still free.

...or maybe they have figured it out.

Ok, I am not paying for reading the news feed on HackerNews. I suppose you aren't paying either. Are both of us HackerNews' products?

Actually I think hacker news is the Google in this scenario. They are profiting off aggregating the content of other news outlets. I’m not sure it’s right/wrong or how it’s going to work but if Australia says you make money off aggregating their news you must pay some legislated amount, I’m not sure I agree with the precedent of that

Have you stopped to think what YCombinator is getting out of paying the bills to keen this site running?

Is it costly for them? I assumed they thought it was good, cheap PR.

>Are both of us HackerNews' products?

At least the product supporter ;)

>Are both of us HackerNews' products?

Yes. We the users of HN are product - both individually, and also as a market segment, and also as a smart[0] crowd.

From [1],

  Y Combinator provides seed funding for startups.
To Y Combinator, the HN is both entry to the sales (investment) funnel, and a PR machine. And also early opinion & commentary, early beta-testing, load testing [2], and more.

That is not to detract from the (very probable) angle of pg & team wishing to render a public service for the public good :-)


[0] the occasional bad thread notwithstanding ;-)

[1] https://www.ycombinator.com/about/#whatwedo

[2] aka HN hug of death

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