Last month, we learned that Australia wants to charge Google for news. The country's proposition stands in stark contrast to what Google recently agreed to pay in France. In France, Google will pay for access to republish some or all of a news article in its Google News app. In Australia, the proposition is to charge Google to LINK to a news article, including in Search.
If that idea sounds insane to you, you're absolutely right. Even Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, said that it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the web. With that, you're already in good company with the man who created the technology in question. But, it seems that Berners-Lee, and therefore you, is slowly finding himself in the minority.
Obviously, Australia is standing up in defense of its position. The country said that it doesn't back down to threats, following Google saying they would shut down Search in the country if the law is passed. Australia thinks they are calling a bluff, but Google is famous for following through on these statements. As such, fiery rhetoric like we don't back down will not likely work in their favor.
The real surprise, however, has been the global attention on the story. While you might expect the tech companies to support Google, one in particular is a major surprise - Microsoft. The company says it supports the move. It's possible that they do not quite understand the repercussions, because Bing Search would almost certainly be required to pay for linking to news articles, as well. The reason Microsoft is supporting the bill is that they are hoping that Google will pull out of the country, and Bing can come in and fill the gap.
Google has fired back at Microsoft, calling the plan unworkable. They have said,
The issue isn't whether companies pay to support quality content; the issue is how. The law would unfairly require unknown payments for simply showing links to news businesses, while giving, to a favoured few, special previews of search ranking.
The real reason why the two main search companies are fighting so hard on this is that Australia will set a precedent for the rest of the world. Other countries, including the US, are eyeing this case to decide whether or not to implement similar. Google sees these laws as the end of their business model, while Microsoft sees it as a way to swoop in and steal market share. Microsoft is good at waiting out competitors while they self destruct and filling the space they leave behind.