Canberra, Australia – The decision to move immediately to a compulsory code is inconsistent with the recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which found that digital platforms and media companies should have nine months to negotiate over appropriate ways to deal with news snippets online.
In taking this decision, the Government has preempted the first reporting milestone (of 30 April) in its own process towards the development of a voluntary Code, creating questions about its commitment to sound evidence based policy development making in respect of Australia’s position in the digital economy.
“We support initiatives that foster collaboration between platforms and copyright owners, but the government seems to have given up on this as an option. It goes against the recommendation of the ACCC, and risks unintended consequences for the rights of individuals and the news market as a whole.” said ADA Executive Officer Jessica Coates.
The ACCC expressed concerns about the idea of a mandatory code forcing technology platforms to pay for links to news content. Most problematic was the risk that by limiting linking and quotation of news content it would harm users’ ability to share news content freely and participate in the public dialogue necessary for the democratic process.
Compulsory licensing schemes for news snippets have also been criticised by academics, human rights advocates and independent publishers because of their potential effect on free speech, and because they cement the dominance of major media conglomerates by making it harder for digital platforms to share content from smaller players.
“It is essential that any consultation on the proposed Code include consumer advocates, as well as representatives of smaller players in the news market, to ensure that it does not do more harm than good” Ms Coates said.
“Similar mandatory schemes have been adopted in other countries, including Spain, Germany and France, and none have been successful in boosting revenues for news services. There is even evidence that they have harmed access to local news through independent publishers and journalists. It is premature for Australia to move to a compulsory code when we are yet to see their effects in other markets” finished Ms Coates.
Interviews and media contact
Ms Coates is available for interview by request. All media inquiries related to this media release should be directed to:
Ms Jessica Coates
Australian Digital Alliance