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Indian MP calls for Australian-style pay for news laws

Calls for YouTube to cough up, plus Facebook and Google

India may be on the way to adopting Australia’s legislation that compels Facebook and Google to pay local news publishers or face forced arbitration.

Sushil Kumar Modi, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party who sits in the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house, yesterday suggested India follow Australia’s lead – and added YouTube to his list of entities that should pay for news.

“News broadcasters are passing through their worst phase in recent history,” he said in the house. “They are in deep financial crisis” as revenue flows from media companies to digital companies.

“I would urge that we should follow a country like Australia,” he said, “because we all know that Australia has taken the lead, by enacting a law, the News Media Bargaining Code, which they compel Google to share advertisement revenue with the news media.”

Modi’s speech wrongly claimed that Google stopped sharing news in Australia before being dragged back to the negotiating table – Facebook took that action.

But Modi said his proposal is a worthy successor to India’s strict new laws that impose content regulation obligations on social media services and video streaming companies.

“India should take a lead by making Google and Facebook pay a fair share of earnings they make from domestically produced news content.”

Modi’s speech was not accompanied by a draft bill and his position is not policy. However, he is regarded as a senior member of the government, having held several senior positions in State and Federal government.

The mere fact he’s floated the idea signals that Australia’s stance is gaining traction, having already attracted the attention of lawmakers in the USA and Europe. The Register hopes they consider Australia’s plan carefully, as while it compels digital giants to pay publishers it does not require the money to be spent on anything in particular. And Australia’s original plan was to ensure that public interest journalism cold be put on a sustainable financial footing. ®

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