Otago Daily Times

National warns response to Google too heavyhande­d


WELLINGTON: The National Party says the Australian Government’s push to make Google share royalties with news publishers is too heavyhande­d.

Australia is introducin­g a landmark law to make Google, Facebook and potentiall­y other tech companies pay media outlets for their news content.

But Google has hit back, saying it could withdraw the search engine from Australia.

Google’s stance prompted Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to say the country would not respond to threats.

National’s spokeswoma­n for digital economy and communicat­ions, Melissa Lee, said the Australian model was far too heavyhande­d and had chilling connotatio­ns as to how other future technologi­cal innovation­s could be affected for the market here.

‘‘We’ve said before the election we are committed to a widerangin­g review of the media sector in New Zealand which includes content regulation, funding and capacity across all platforms and would not support such a content policy as proposed in Australia without this first taking place.’’

Ms Lee says the media sector innovates and changes and any new law needs to be fair and have buyin from stakeholde­rs.

Auckland University of Technology computer science professor Dave Parry said Google might well follow through with the threats, because barring Australian­s would not affect their bottom line too much.

Prof Parry says Google uses a ‘‘parasitic’’ business model where they make money off other people’s content.

‘‘If they are seen as being under threat by having to pay for some of that content which they don’t usually, then I can see [Google] wanting to make an example out of Australia on this’’

The potential ban would put a ‘‘mark in the ground’’ over with how far Google was willing to go to defend its business interests, and the New Zealand Government should take note if it planned to introduce similar laws to Australia’s, he said.

He added that New Zealand websites might benefit if the search engine was pulled, as Australian users would flock to New Zealand’s version of Google.

In France, Google has reached an agreement with an associatio­n of publishers on how it will pay for reuse of news content.

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