New mechanism for negotiations
However, YouTube is not mentioned as one of the platforms that would be covered by the code’s final decision arbitration, which relates to revenue sharing, in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s explanatory materials on the bill.
The bill’s explanatory material states: “The Treasurer’s instrument is expected to specify the following as designated digital platform services: Facebook News Feed (including Facebook Groups and Facebook pages); Facebook News Tab (if and when released in Australia); Instagram; Google Discover; Google News; and Google Search.”
Sources with a deep understanding of the proposed code said it sets out a new mechanism for the way tech giants and Australia media companies negotiate.
The money news media companies can earn by being on YouTube can be part of those negotiations. However, YouTube cannot be included in the arbitration decision on revenue sharing. Essentially, this means the ability of media companies to earn further revenue from YouTube stays the same as it is now, a standard commercial negotiation not subject to arbitration. The Australian Financial Review reported this on Wednesday prior to YouTube’s update.
“We’re doing everything we can to find a way forward. Talking to parliament and assessing the potential impact and changes we would need to make if the most extreme version of this law is passed,” Mr Koval said.
“As it stands, if this becomes law, we wouldn’t be able to operate in Australia in our current form, we’d have to make major changes to YouTube. But, again, we don’t want it to get to this point.”
‘Narrow set of services’
The ACCC has consulted extensively with the Australian media sector, Google and Facebook for more than two years through its digital platforms inquiry and the drafting of the new legislation.
On Wednesday, a Google spokesperson argued that the code – at least in its present iteration – is not actually clear about how the new rules would apply to Australian news media companies that have a presence on YouTube.
“The explanatory materials refer to the specific services which it is proposed would be the subject of binding arbitration. The majority of the obligations in the draft code appear to apply to every one of Google’s digital platforms … that ‘make available’ news content. This term is not defined,” a Google spokesperson said.
“If the ACCC and the government’s intention is that only a narrow set of services are subject to the code obligations, we suggest this is made express in the drafting of the code.”
The draft legislation is in consultation until August 28.