back to article Facebook and Google’s Australian pay-for-news nightmare finds a European admirer

Australia’s plan to make Facebook and Google pay for links to news content have found a toehold in the European Union. Alex Agius Saliba, a Maltese member of the European Parliament, recently chatted to The Financial Times about the matter and cited Australia’s model as one he thinks could work in the Eurozone. If legislated, …

  1. steviebuk Silver badge

    All has changed

    So in the late 90s it use to be "Visit my website. Here's a link to my website. Come visit". That has been going on for years with people selling their services to get you in high search rankings etc.

    Now it appears the news media is saying "Come to our website. Here's a link. Oh but you have to pay for that link now, to host that link. Then pay to actually get to the rest of the article behind a pay wall" well fuck off then, we just won't read your paper.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: All has changed

      Sure, now it's "I'm Google (the Gatekeeper of Gozer), I'll reap your contents and show them on my website, in a a way most users will never need to reach your website. I'll hoard those users data, and use them to sell ads I only profit from".

      Who ever said contents should be always free? It's not free at all to create them. Of course if you don't create them and just reap them it's much cheaper.

      Moreover the more money Google intercepts, the less money go to the publishers and content creators. Which can't live out of thin air.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: All has changed

        But didn't Germany try the same tactic until the newspapers realised that they were losing traffic because Google stopped indexing them?

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "they were losing traffic because Google stopped"

          That exactly shows Google became a too dangerous monopoly and must be regulated.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All has changed

        The idea that users don't visit news websites because they can read the news on Google is a fantasy. Every test has shown that news websites gain more traffic from Google when they display snippets of the article than when they only display titles.

        What is correct is that if Google News did not exist, users would directly go to the website of large media companies, and almost never to small sites (this is what happened to Spain).

        That said, everybody agrees that good quality news sites need to exist, and that Google has more money than it needs. The discussion only revolves on how the money flows from the latter to the former, and how much, and how this is decided.

      3. Howard Sway Silver badge

        Re: All has changed

        Surely the solution is for the newspapers to set up their own search engines, which just forward the searches to Google, then strip out all the adverts in the results and replace them with THEIR own adverts. Hell, they could do the same with Google News, although that might cause an infinite loop of advert mangling.

        1. david 12 Silver badge

          Re: All has changed

          > just forward the searches to Google, then strip out all the adverts in the results and replace them with THEIR own adverts. <

          This is what HTTPS is designed to prevent.

          Oddly enough, HTTPS was backed and promoted by Google, and most of the worlds web browsers are now based on technology developed and funded by Google.

          7:14 AM AEDT

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Re: All has changed

          Just as Google can pay its own journalists and hunt for its own news to display. And many other contents it profits from.

  2. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Many if not most of sites with a link on Google News are behind a paywall. So what's the point for Google to give them money anyway?

    I've got another solution: Opt-in. Google asks to News sources if they want to be referenced in Google News for free. Those which don't want traffic coming from Google News could then refuse.

    1. Mike Lewis

      There's always the robots.txt file.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Waaay too technical.

      2. iron Silver badge

        Does Googlebot even pay attention to robots.txt? Or did a rogue developer add some code that means it always scans the restricted paths and records your GPS and network names while it's doing so?

    2. Dinanziame Silver badge

      This opt-in solution is the current state. News sites are free to let Google index them or or not (and yes, Google respects robots.txt). The problem is that they cannot survive if they don't let Google do whatever it wants, due to the "monopoly" that Google has on users. Governments have decided that the fact news sites must let Google use their intellectual property in order to survive is a sign that Google has monopoly power — otherwise the news sites would never accept it.

      The problem is that if you relied on the Market to decide how much Google needs to pay websites, the answer would be negative. Websites would totally pay Google for traffic; it's called advertising, and it's kind of Google's main business. So governments need to step in and demand Google to pay. So far, Google has managed to get governments to accept solutions designed by Google. But Australia has just decided to set prices themselves without possible appeal, which is what has Google so ruffled.

      1. nijam Silver badge

        > ... let Google use their intellectual property ...

        Publishing a link to a website is scarcely intellectual property. On the contrary, it how the WWW was intended to work, and always has worked.

        However, ripping content from a news website is different, is what many journalists routinely do, and is probably what the dimwitted politicos think they are stopping Google from doing. (As I've mentioned before, I've never actually encountered a search engine doing that ... disclaimer - I've not used every search engine).

  3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    it is yet to clear Australia’s own parliament

    When you have someone like Rupert calling the shots, `tis good as signed.

  4. sabroni Silver badge

    We are the Google Warriors!

    Wherever there is attempts to rein in Google's power, wherever a creepy line is nearly crossed, whenever a fleet of cars illegally collect wifi data, we will be there to defend this poor, misunderstood company!

    It tries so hard to do the right thing and make information free! It's massive profits are just an unfortunate side effect of it's philanthropy.

    Don't be mean to Google. Their stuff is free. You should hate the people who try to charge for stuff!

    1. RyokuMas

      Re: We are the Google Warriors!

      "Don't be mean to Google. Their stuff is free."

      Please tell me you missed "#sarcasm" on the end of that.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Please tell me you missed "#sarcasm" on the end of that.

        No, i genuinely believe Google are trying to make the world a better place.

        1. analyzer

          Re: Please tell me you missed "#sarcasm" on the end of that.

          love it

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: i genuinely believe Google are trying to make the world a better place

          For Google investors ? Definitely.

          For me ? I don't think so.

          Being spied upon, tracked like a wild animal and having stupid ads shoved into my face does not make me feel better about the world.

          That is why I protect myself by using Firefox with NoScript and uBlock Origin.

          You see ? This "better world" of yours means I have to actively protect my privacy.

          You're wrong.

          P.S. : I'm guessing you're actually being sarcastic, but I opted to take that at face value.

          1. nijam Silver badge

            Re: i genuinely believe Google are trying to make the world a better place

            > ...means I have to actively protect my privacy

            Naive to imagine you don't have to do that anyway, and not just against Google.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: We are the Google Warriors!

        Please tell me you didn't need it.

  5. Richard Jones 1

    Trying To Make Websearches Useless?

    Does anyone search for news via ANY web list? I go straight to a couple of news providers, but many searches are so polluted with other items that they waste my time.

    I would be happy to delist all newspapers, (really opinion sheets trying to make news) items from my web searches

    If I want to buy a widget, I want a list of widget suppliers, not news about obscure widget related events.

    It is already hard enough to find stuff I want to understand. When I searched out details about surgeons, they were all blanks, least I found out who killed rather than cured. The very details I wanted to know.

    1. Oh Matron!

      Re: Trying To Make Websearches Useless?

      Erm..... RSS?

    2. jwatkins

      Re: Trying To Make Websearches Useless?

      Loads of "News" sites are so full of adds and refuse to load if you use ad-blockers.

  6. Andre Carneiro

    I'd be surprised if Google pulled out of Australia.

    And if they do, there are many options to fill the void.

    Honestly, it may well backfire on them when people realise they can live without google perfectly well, thankyouverymuch

    DOI: I hate google and won't touch their products with a barge pole.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I certainly wouldn't follow a link to our local newspaper's site. Unless they've changed they have an opt out to over 100 other sites, their site is crap and any other stories they offer usually turn out to be from some of their other "local" titles. I would probably still be reading the print edition if they'd put more effort into getting it delivered but that stopped years ago. It wouldn't surprise me, BTW, if they and Rupert's Oz organs used an image from Streetview whenever they need a picture of somewhere an incident happened.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It won't matter what the media signs up for anyway.

    Given that the Brexit Deal was signed by the EU but they are now reneging on many of the promises they themselves demanded be put in there, like no "border" between Eire and the rest of the EU and the "2-way free trade agreement" stuff, how can anyone believe a single word they say any more?

    Which, for the record, is why many people voted Leave - not because we are racist xenophobes but because we can understand there is a large difference between what the EU promises and what actually happens. We are sticking to our side of the agreement, you can't blame Boris and Co if the EU don't stick to theirs - unless you are a Remainer, apparently.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: It won't matter what the media signs up for anyway.

      Oh, dear...

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I don't look at news site other than the BBC and ElReg from a desktop browser, but using the Google news app on my phone it shows maybe the first couple of lines of the article and to view the rest you have to go to click the link where it takes you to the news site where you are faced with a shed load of adverts or even a pay wall.

    So now basically Rupert Murdoch has managed to convince the Australian government that he needs even more money by getting Google and Facebook to pay to link to articles on his crappy tabloid websites because no one is buying his newspapers any more.

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Murdoch doesn't need to convince them, he just suggests that bad things might happen...

  10. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Microsoft pushes US to copy Australia's media code

    Microsoft pushes US to copy Australia's media code

    Looks like Google and FB are beginning to look like idiots (if not worst).

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