Is Google getting worried about the situation in Australia?

The tech giants of Google, Facebook, and Apple are typically cool in the face of any controversy or criticism. Their scale and popularity mean that even if they dragged in front of the political powers of a nation, they know they don’t have too much to fear apart from a few tough questions.  Google’s behaviour to their current challenges in Australia however could indicate they are more worried than usual about things in the country.

Faced with the prospect of having to negotiate compensation deals with publishers for their content, Google has broken from its usual approach and taken to weaponizing the country’s citizens and creators against the legal threat.

In a series of posts, they have warned that the government will mean YouTube creators will earn less from their content, and restrict the content its inhabitants can consume. Rather than fighting the actual ruling head on (which it will also obviously do) its step has been to run advertising and PR campaigns suggesting the ruling will be bad for Internet users and urging them to send grievances. No doubt hoping for a public uproar causing politicians to back track for fear of their own popularity.

On the one hand it is a measure of their size and popularity that they have been able to try and pull of such a campaign without a collective shrug of shoulders. On the other it gives the distinct appearance of a business that doesn’t feel confident of winning the battle legitimately.

Australia aside, I am sure their bigger concern is the precedent a ruling could set for other countries to follow. Monetising the indexation of news and media content produced by others is Google’s business model for search and YouTube. Which is their ultimate end game for most of their other ventures.

Without it, or an equivalent model, they look like a very different business. I’ll be watching this one closely as it evolves as it could be very important for the world of digital marketing.

Full details of the Australian Government’s draft code for allowing financial agreements between Google and Media outlets can be read here.

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