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Microsoft Favors Rule That Forces Tech Giants to Pay News Outlets for Using Their Content

Microsoft’s Brad Smith says a proposed Australian rule to force tech companies to pay newspapers could work in the U.S.


is calling on the U.S. government to adopt media laws that are similar to those currently causing controversy in . Specifically, Microsoft wants major tech companies to share profits with media outlets when they link those sources on platforms.

Microsoft president and chief lawyer offered the companies stance in a blog post. In doing so, Microsoft is going against the opinion of some other major rivals, such as .

In Australia, a debate is raging over the country's proposed News Media Bargaining Code, which is currently heading towards Parliament. If passed, the code would force tech giants to reach deals with news outlets regarding remuneration when they link them in feeds and on their services.

Google has described Australia's law as “unfair” and says it puts search habits at risk. Certainly, the company would take a similar stance against the same kind of law in the United States. has said it would prefer to remove all news from its Australia market rather than comply.

Microsoft Responds

Profit sharing is not something that worries Microsoft and Smith suggests the company is on board with the idea.

“…we've heard from people asking whether Microsoft would support a similar proposal in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and other countries. The short answer is yes,” the Microsoft blog post reads.

Smith point to something called the “baseball arbitration” that determines the fair price companies should pay to newspapers. Australia proposes an arbiter to create a forced dialog between publications and tech companies. In these meetings, a fair price will be sought to provide compensation to news outlets.

According to Smith, Google already has a favorable bargaining tool:

“Google objects strenuously to what it regards as the injustice of having to engage in baseball arbitration. It argues that this type of arbitration is appropriate only “when the parties are already close in price.” In contrast, according to Google, there is a wide gap between what news organizations are seeking and what Google is prepared to pay. Ignoring the fact that an imbalanced bargaining position has created this disparity in the first place, Google in effect asserts that its own inflexibility at the negotiating table means that it should not have to participate in an arbitration that rewards reasonableness over intransigence.”

Smith believes this code could allow Microsoft to gain market share:

“Microsoft's Bing search service has less than 5% market share in Australia, substantially smaller than the 15-20% market share that we have across PC and mobile searches in the United States and the 10-15% share we have in Canada and the United Kingdom. But, with a realistic prospect of gaining usage share, we are confident we can build the service Australians want and need. And, unlike Google, if we can grow, we are prepared to sign up for the new law's obligations, including sharing revenue as proposed with news organizations. The key would be to create a more competitive market, something the government can facilitate. But, as we made clear, we are comfortable running a high-quality search service at lower economic margins than Google and with more economic returns for the press.”

Tip of the day:

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you might want to limit the Internet bandwidth your PC uses. In our tutorial we are showing you how to set up a metered connection in Windows 10 and how to turn it off again, if needed.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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