Google drops curated news plans in Australia over 'unworkable' policy

It argues that it would be forced to pay.

PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images

Google’s dispute with Australia over online news is about to claim a major feature as a casualty. The internet giant has decided to freeze plans to launch its curated News Showcase in Australia over claims the draft News Media Bargaining Code is “unworkable.” It still objected to what it called a “must include, must pay” approach in the code where it not only has to pay news outlets it links to, but is obligated to carry those outlets for free.

The company argued it would deal with payment demands that would “not [be] financially sustainable” for any firm. It also argued that the code was too broad and could prove costly if there’s a claimed violation, with Google potentially paying up to 10 percent of its Australian revenue for a single infraction.

Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) previously said that a Google open letter decrying the code “contains misinformation,” and that the company wouldn’t be required to charge for free services or share data with news organizations like the letter suggested.

This isn’t Google’s only fight over news. However, it could serve as a bellwether for rollouts elsewhere. If Google is willing to put an entire feature on hold for a country over what it sees as unfavorable terms, you could see a similar response elsewhere.