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February 25, 2021

The law requires sites like Facebook and Google to strike deals with media companies to pay for news content, and if a deal can’t be reached, the parties would be forced to abide by a decision made by an independent arbiter. Facebook briefly banned all news content from its platform in Australia last week in a standoff over the measure, but quickly reversed course after last-minute amendments were added to the bill in an agreement with the tech giant. Under the final bill, platforms and news publishers have more time to negotiate before binding arbitration, and Facebook can still block news content if those negotiations fail. “The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” Australian Treasurer Josh Fydenberg said in a statement. Australian lawmakers say the law is necessary to level the playing field between tech companies and news publishers. For years, social media companies have benefited from having news links on their platforms, but news companies have had to deal with declining ad revenue, in part because of Google and Facebook’s ascendence in the online ad market. While Facebook was more aggressive in opposition to the law, Google ended up complying and cutting deals with media companies before it was passed.