Australia just got help in its struggle with Google and Facebook, from an unexpected direction. France.
While Google is busy protesting to Australia that it is too difficult to work with media companies and give them a slice of the revenue generated from some of the news, the French have forced the company to recompense publishers.
Although there are nuances between the French case and Australia, the fact that Google has bowed to French pressure to work constructively with French publishers must weaken its case in Australia.
The French case involved Google’s snippets. These will always be a double-edged sword and can both harm and benefit the news media. Many people will read a snippet and be done with it, having got the gist of the story, while many others will click through to the news itself, to get the full story.
For some reason, the Australia saga has become the centre of attention and looks as if it is becoming a test case. Whichever way the judgement goes, the rest of the world will be watching closely.
The situation is not helped by the Americans adding their views, either. Last week, a US trade representative objected to Australia, saying that forcing Google and Facebook to hand cash over to media companies would undermine any competitive edge that the two companies had in the country.
These companies are two of those facing antitrust cases in the US itself for being too dominant.
We are already seeing the power of big tech growing seemingly without check, as witnessed by their ability to close and block accounts of the most powerful person on Earth. If Google wins its fight in Australia, it will be a turning point in the battle over who has the most power – Governments or Big Tech.
It turns out, though, that the pendulum has swung in the direction of Australia – thanks to the French.