Microsoft logo Photograph:( Reuters )
Microsoft has been positioning itself to increase market share for its search engine, Bing after a Google executive told a Senate hearing last month that it would likely make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the government goes ahead with a draft law that would make tech giants pay for news content
Microsoft Corp said on Wednesday it fully supported proposed new laws in Australia that would force internet giants Google and Facebook Inc to pay domestic media outlets for their content.
Microsoft has been positioning itself to increase market share for its search engine, Bing after a Google executive told a Senate hearing last month that it would likely make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the government goes ahead with a draft law that would make tech giants pay for news content.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement that he and Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella had told Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher in an online meeting that "While Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we'd be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us."
"The code reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses."
Both Alphabet Inc's Google and Facebook have called the laws unworkable and said last month they would withdraw some key services from Australia if the regulations went ahead.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday Microsoft was ready to step in and expand its search product Bing in Australia if Google pulls its search engine after he spoke with Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella last week.
Although Bing is Australia's second most popular search engine, it has only a 3.6 per cent market share, according to web analytics service Statcounter.
Google's search engine has 94 per cent of the country's search market, according to industry data.
Microsoft in its statement said it will offer small firms a chance to transfer advertising business to Bing with no costs and that it would invest further in the product to ensure it is competitive.
The mandatory code proposed by the government aims to make Google and Facebook pay Australian media companies fairly for using news content the tech giants siphon from news sites.
There are no plans to make smaller search engines such as Bing pay for linking users to Australian news, but the government has not ruled that option out.
Google has faced pressure from authorities elsewhere to pay for news.
Last month, it signed a deal with a group of French publishers paving the way for the company to make digital copyright payments. Under the agreement, Google will negotiate individual licensing deals with newspapers, with payments based on factors such as the amount published daily and monthly internet site traffic.
But Google is resisting the Australian plan because it would have less control over how much it would have to pay. Under the Australian system, if an online platform and a news business can't agree on a price for news, an arbitration panel will make a binding decision on payment.