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Innula Zenovka

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They could very well try to extend their law to every little site basically putting all the sites like VVO in Australia out of existence and just make the internet essentially just a bunch of TV channels run by the Murdochs and friends.
"They" being who, exactly? The Australian government? Have they given any indication they want to do this and, if they have, how would they go about enforcing it?

Would someone (who?) be trying to bill Cris, in Florida, for however much you think it might be (any idea of a figure and how it would be calculated?) and what would happen if he didn't pay?

I see that Google, at least, seem to be sorting things out in Australia,



and that last December Facebook signed up to some kind of similar arrangement in the UK without noticeable ill-effects

Facebook to pay UK media millions to license news stories

So I imagine they will sooner or later work something out without breaking the internet too badly.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Oh my sweet summer child.
Seriously, the internet is now a vast chaotic system outside anyone's control.

In this particular case, the Australian government has identified a particular problem of which governments worldwide are very aware -- social media syphoning off advertising revenue from more traditional news sources, especially local newspapers, which are pretty dying off in the US, as I understand it.

They're trying to mitigate the problem locally, as are other governments.

All we can do is watch how their attempts at mitigation work out, and see how they, and others, deal with the unintended consequences of their actions, should there be any particularly worrisome ones.

Obviously Facebook and other social media companies are going to complain this is dreadful and means the end of the internet as we know it because the whole of world civilization depends on US tech billionaires never having to pay a penny more in tax anywhere than they have to, because that's what they always say.

Meanwhile, speaking as one of those dreadful socialialists who believes that both that multinationals should pay taxes and that they should also be tightly regulated by government where necessary, which is most certainly the case with banks, power and utility companies, communications companies and all other businesses on which the basics of everyday life depend, I'm very interested to see how things work out.

Facebook's business model is not sustainable. Large numbers of people use it as their primary news source, with the result that the tradition news media, who generate the material in the first place, are losing advertising revenue to Facebook, as people read the ads on the Facebook page where they read the Times news story, rather than on the Times front page.

This is great for Facebook because they're gaining the ad revenue on the strength of content it costs them nothing to create, while news media who generated the content have to cover all the overhead of researching, reporting, editing and producing the story.

It's not good, though, for the news media a whole, and governments have not only a right but a positive duty to intervene on behalf of the legitimate independent news media, whose continued survival is a matter of real public interest.

This particular set of proposals may or may not be good ones -- I just don't know. But only the most extreme and doctrinaire follower of Ayn Rand would try to argue that, in principle, governments should never even try to regulate and tax social media companies where appropriate.
 
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This author outlines how this is basically a way of funnelling money from Google and Facebook to Rupert Murdoch and friends' corporations.

[picture of Rupert Murdoch]
I’m sure you’re familiar with this man. His media empire is vast. The Wall Street Journal. Fox News. The New York Post. Dow Jones. The Sun. The Times. The Australian. The Daily Telegraph.

These new laws in Australia— these were dreamt into being by this man. The Australian Government is just aiding and abetting him. Their purpose is simple: take money out of the pockets of Facebook and Google — and without the Australian taxpayer seeing a single dime of this money, which really, they should absolutely be entitled to — those dollars are being deposited directly into the pockets of Rupert Murdoch and a few of his big media buddies.

In terms of creating a corporate hand-out, this one is unmatched.

Australia is just about to create a Fox News tax.
 

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Seriously, the internet is now a vast chaotic system outside anyone's control.
Only the dodgy and outright criminal parts of it.

It's not a series of tubes, really, it's people.

And people are definitely subject to even the gentlest control.

This is an already existing ongoing problem, with organizations using overreaching laws to shut down critics and extort money. The Scientologists attacks on critics seem to have finally been beaten back, but it took years and people have been ruined in the meantime.

And that was just an attack on copied content. It didn't attack links.

In this particular case, the Australian government has identified a particular problem of which governments worldwide are very aware -- social media syphoning off advertising revenue from more traditional news sources, especially local newspapers, which are pretty dying off in the US, as I understand it.
If Facebook is copying the whole story to their site, they are already violating international copyright law, and should be sued for every penny they make. They don't need *new* laws to prevent actual copying, they just need to enforce the ones they already have.

Where they link to the source story, on the source site, the originating site gets the ad revenue for the story, not Facebook. Ad revenue, *and* direct subscription fees, because upselling with a paywall actually works. Which is why they don't block search engines (using robots.txt, which they know will be honored), because they know it's a net income source.

And, again, this is not a case of billionaires vs the little people, it's billionaires vs billionaires.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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This author outlines how this is basically a way of funnelling money from Google and Facebook to Rupert Murdoch and friends' corporations.

Well, erm, yes, but the point is that Google and Facebook are syphoning off ad revenue from news organisations, no matter by whom owned, by presenting those organisations' content on Google and Facebook's sites, so people see the stories there and not on the news pages of the The Australian or whatever, and they get the revenue and not the newspapers and sites that have to pay people to investigate and report the news.
 
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Well, erm, yes, but the point is that Google and Facebook are syphoning off ad revenue from news organisations, no matter by whom owned, by presenting those organisations' content on Google and Facebook's sites, so people see the stories there and not on the news pages of the The Australian or whatever, and they get the revenue and not the newspapers and sites that have to pay people to investigate and report the news.
Again, this is a separate problem from linking.

 

Innula Zenovka

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Again, this is a separate problem from linking.
Sorry, you've lost me. What is special about linking in this context? What does the proposed Australian law mandate that is so objectionable to anyone other than Google and Facebook, and how could the Australian law be amended to remedy this defect, whatever it is?
 

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Sorry, you've lost me. What is special about linking in this context? What does the proposed Australian law mandate that is so objectionable to anyone other than Google and Facebook, and how could the Australian law be amended to remedy this defect, whatever it is?
The Australian law requires payment for links to news stories.

If Facebook is copying the whole story to their site, they are already violating international copyright law, and should be sued for every penny they make. They don't need *new* laws to prevent actual copying, they just need to enforce the ones they already have.

Where they link to the source story, on the source site, the originating site gets the ad revenue for the story, not Facebook. Ad revenue, *and* direct subscription fees, because upselling with a paywall actually works. Which is why they don't block search engines (using robots.txt, which they know will be honored), because they know it's a net income source.
 

Innula Zenovka

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The Australian law requires payment for links to news stories.
So I gather, but why does this matter to anyone but Facebook, Google and whoever it is to whom they pay the money (who is that, exactly, anyway, and what sort of sums are in question?).
 

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So I gather, but why does this matter to anyone but Facebook, Google and whoever it is to whom they pay the money (who is that, exactly, anyway, and what sort of sums are in question?).
I have already answered this twice.

Let me try again, using more words, because you seem to have missed the ones I've already used.

1. A link is not a news story. It's a reference. It's no different than "Strunk and White, Elements of Style, Page 23." or "1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613", or "Innula Zenovka, post: 152407, member: 81". It's not a news story or "stealing clicks". It doesn't redirect a penny of ad revenue, you still have to go to the original source to read the story and once you're there it doesn't matter whether you started at Google or the Times home page. Now that you have to pay to reference a source, then where does it stop?

2. This is a precedent that you can be forced to pay just to refer to a news story. This will be copied and made broader. Because that how laws work.

3. This will be used to force payment for reference to basically any content, as that content is reframed as "news". Bad actors are already abusing overly broad laws like this to silence critics and extort money, and they are already licking their lips at the opportunities these new laws will provide.
 

Innula Zenovka

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I have already answered this twice.

Let me try again, using more words, because you seem to have missed the ones I've already used.

1. A link is not a news story. It's a reference. It's no different than "Strunk and White, Elements of Style, Page 23." or "1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613", or "Innula Zenovka, post: 152407, member: 81". It's not a news story or "stealing clicks". It doesn't redirect a penny of ad revenue, you still have to go to the original source to read the story and once you're there it doesn't matter whether you started at Google or the Times home page. Now that you have to pay to reference a source, then where does it stop?

2. This is a precedent that you can be forced to pay just to refer to a news story. This will be copied and made broader. Because that how laws work.

3. This will be used to force payment for reference to basically any content, as that content is reframed as "news". Bad actors are already abusing overly broad laws like this to silence critics and extort money, and they are already licking their lips at the opportunities these new laws will provide.
Sorry, I don't understand how a law passed in one country can be "a precedent" for anything, still less "a precedent" for something that happens in another country.

For example, the recent decision by the UK's Supreme Court about the legal status of Uber drivers is certainly a precedent, because it's a decision handed down by a superior court, it's a precedent that's binding only within the UK's jurisdiction, so while other people in other countries may well watch the outcome with interest, and certainly the EU is apparently considering legislation to regulate the gig economy, so they'll presumably want to see how things develop, the only people it directly affects are Uber itself and Uber's British drivers and their passengers.

So while I can see how the Australian legislation affects Facebook in Australia, and Facebook's Australian users, I don't see how it follows "This will be copied and made broader. Because that how laws work." It's not like the way laws necessarily work in the case of the US, which has notably failed to copy gun control legislation anywhere else, or legislation setting up a National Health Service, or that laws in China or Iran relating to the internet are necessarily adopted elsewhere. Why's this any different?

The most that can happen, it seems to me, is that other countries will look at Australia's experience, or the UK's experience with Uber, and conclude it's a good idea or it isn't, or it's a good idea but there are clearly pitfalls to be avoided. The outcome will doubtless influence other countries in some way, as an example to be studied, adapted, emulated or avoided, but that's all it can be.

And I'm still no clearer as to how the law affects anyone other than Facebook Australia and its customers -- if an Australian user of VVO posts a link to a news story here, are you saying that under this law someone comes after Cristiano with a bill, or whoever posted the link, or what? Or does it affect only links posted on domains registered in Australia, or what?

Lots of us post links here in VVO. Does this law affect that in any way? If it does, how? If it doesn't, is that because Cristiano is based in the US, or the site is registered there, or because most, if not all, of us live outside Australia or what?

What specifically happens, as a result of this new law, if some Australian blogger posts links to CNN or the BBC in their blog? I ask because I don't know. Do they get a bill from someone and, if so, from whom? Has anyone actually received such a bill?

Do you have a link to an interview or article by someone in Australia not connected with Facebook explaining how they are adversely affected by this? If it's a genuine issue, I'd like understand how, from someone directly affected.

And why does it affect anyone outside Australia any more than does, for example, that country's policy on asylum seekers affect people outside Australia who aren't in some way directly involved (which the UK, for example, recently toyed with the idea of adopting before rejecting it out of hand)?

Because this looks to me more like a powerful multinational which notoriously lacks any sense of social responsibility squealing like a stuck libertarian at any attempt to regulate it than it does anything else.
 
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Chalice Yao

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The absurd part of the law is that (no matter how much one might dislike Facebook or Google...) those companies are now supposed to pay Murdoch's companies in order to *direct people to the pages of those companies*.

It's the equivalent of people having to pay a newspaper company in order to be allowed to tell people 'Hey, have you heard about news XYZ, read about it in this newspaper'.

Yes, of course Google and Facebook profit from being able to attract users to their pages through saying 'Hey, those news exist, read about it there', but in the end they have to pay to essentially advertise and direct users to those other companies. And they have to pay *those* companies for doing so. Which is...absurd.
 

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/me attempts to nudge the thread back on topic...

In April 2019, Facebook was preparing to ban one of the internet’s most notorious spreaders of misinformation and hate, Infowars founder Alex Jones. Then CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened.

Jones had gained infamy for claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was a “giant hoax,” and that the teenage survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting were “crisis actors.” But Facebook had found that he was also relentlessly spreading hate against various groups, including Muslims and trans people. That behavior qualified him for expulsion from the social network under the company's policies for "dangerous individuals and organizations," which required Facebook to also remove any content that expressed “praise or support” for them.

But Zuckerberg didn’t consider the Infowars founder to be a hate figure, according to a person familiar with the decision, so he overruled his own internal experts and opened a gaping loophole: Facebook would permanently ban Jones and his company — but would not touch posts of praise and support for them from other Facebook users. This meant that Jones’ legions of followers could continue to share his lies across the world’s largest social network.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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The absurd part of the law is that (no matter how much one might dislike Facebook or Google...) those companies are now supposed to pay Murdoch's companies in order to *direct people to the pages of those companies*.

It's the equivalent of people having to pay a newspaper company in order to be allowed to tell people 'Hey, have you heard about news XYZ, read about it in this newspaper'.

Yes, of course Google and Facebook profit from being able to attract users to their pages through saying 'Hey, those news exist, read about it there', but in the end they have to pay to essentially advertise and direct users to those other companies. And they have to pay *those* companies for doing so. Which is...absurd.
OK, that affects Facebook and Google's bottom line, I see that, though since I work for neither company nor have shares in them, that doesn't worry me too much.

Who else does it affect other than Google and Facebook (Google appear to have reached a mutually satisfactory arrangement with both Murdoch and with companies that are nothing to do with him, like Guardian Australia, and it seems to working for them or their customers so far)?

I've been trying (admittedly not particularly hard, and I don't really know where to start looking) for an interview with someone in Australia running a community or interest group site saying how they'll be adversely affected by this.

At the moment, it looks to me like little more than big tech companies pushing back against the regulation that they know is inevitable but want to postpone as long as possible.

These articles maybe add some background:


and this UK competition watchdog warns Big Tech of coming antitrust probes

I'm perfectly prepared to write to my MP, one of the Labour whips, telling him what measures in this area he should , as a socialist, be supporting and opposing if only someone will point me towards some evidence I can use to make a decent case.
 

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Sorry, I don't understand how a law passed in one country can be "a precedent" for anything, still less "a precedent" for something that happens in another country.
It normalizes bad law, makes it easier to pass bad laws in other countries.
 

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I wonder how many hyperlinks Murdoch has on his web sites. Is he going to have to pay up, or is it just 'social networks'? What is a social network, anyway? If Murdoch has a comment section on his site, is that a social network? If it is, then after this law passes, can I force Murdoch to pay the Industrial Workers of the World millions of dollars by spamming his news outlet comments with links to the IWW web site? Because that would be funny.
 

Chalice Yao

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Who else does it affect other than Google and Facebook (Google appear to have reached a mutually satisfactory arrangement with both Murdoch and with companies that are nothing to do with him, like Guardian Australia, and it seems to working for them or their customers so far)?

I've been trying (admittedly not particularly hard, and I don't really know where to start looking) for an interview with someone in Australia running a community or interest group site saying how they'll be adversely affected by this.
The main problem is, that laws like these are usually used as gateways of sorts.

To elaborate, a good analogy is certain laws regarding police having access, or gathering certain extra sensitive information and private content, or tapping wires. It starts with 'This information will only be accessable in the worst of cases! Terrorism! Child abuse! Special judge permissions!'. It's usually at this point that some people already see the signs and protest such laws in advance, but in the end after a lot of back and forth, they pass because they are oh so restrictive and limited.

At that point the biggest hurdle is overcome.

Usually you can set the clock and take bets on about half a year or year later, where suddenly some politicians or lobbyists go "Oh no, we are having serious problems with these not-as-serious-things now! But if we adjust this law juuuust a bit and allow access in case of not-quite-as-serious cases of type X Y Z our problems will be solved!". And since it is just a sliiight adjustment, it passes much more easily...

And repeat a year later.

It's been a common tactic (or simply a non-intended slippery-slope result afterwards) many times; A law that would normally cause the most massive of shitstorms if passed to target common cases (or common companies, etc. etc.) instead gets introduced to only handle the BIG cases, or the TOP firms etc.
Once things have calmed down, they get incrementally nudged. Just a little. Another exception, another loosening, another set of extra parametes to broading it, usually as a result of dramatic ( or made-dramatic due to popularism.. ) events and/or simply as a voting campaign/lobbying result.

And in the end, you have exactly the law(s) that would have had no chance of passing if they had come in that form at the very start.

So, TL;DR: Google and Facebook are the start. There is a high chance you can count the months until the same media companies go "Oh no we are still now losing money to these smaller companies here!", and because the big law is already in place, it will be so much easier to just give it a little adjustment...
 

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As someone who does not have working facial recognition software in their skull, that would literally be a life-changing product.