World wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and US government are siding with Facebook and Google against the proposed Australian law meant to make IT giants pay for using publishers´ news content for their services.
Mr Berners-Lee in a submission to an Australian Senate inquiry said the draft legislation “risks breaching a fundamental principle of the web by requiring payment for linking between certain content online”. US government also asked Australia to scrap the proposed law arguing that the bargaining code could have a harmful outcome. Google and Facebook have earlier strongly argued against the law. Facebook said it could block the possibility to share news in Australia.
The US government submission said that Australia instead should further study the markets, and if appropriate, develop a voluntary code.
The European Parliament has approved an updated copyright directive saying that IT companies must pay for using publishers´ content. The directive must be implemented in all EU member states´ national legislation this spring. France has become a test for how to handle the EU directive and there are ongoing negotiations between publishers and Google on the issue. Google shortly before Christmas announced it would pay based on the amount of content contributed and how frequently the content is used but no real details, including size of payments, have been made official.
Australian government originally said it wanted a voluntary code of conduct between publishers and IT companies but has later submitted a law that is discussed by the parliament. The law would force the IT companies to pay for using publishers´ content and if the parties cannot agree on the price tag, a panel would decide about the pricing.
Mr Berners-Lee said the ability of web users to link to other sites was “fundamental to the web”. Forcing platforms to pay for hosting a link would “block an important aspect of the value of web content”.
The ability of web users to link to other sites was “fundamental to the web”, he said.
He argued that the proposal “would undermine the fundamental principle of the ability to link freely on the web and is inconsistent with how the web has been able to operate over the past three decades”.