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Australia Approves Law to Make Facebook and Google Pay to Carry News Content

FILE - This Oct. 1, 2019, photo shows the logos of mobile apps Facebook and Google displayed on a tablet.

Australia has become the world’s first nation to make digital companies such as Facebook and Google pay domestic news outlets for their content.

Parliament approved the law Thursday that would allow a government arbitrator to decide the price a digital company should pay news outlets if the two sides fail to reach an agreement.

The final legislation includes a set of amendments as part of an agreement reached Tuesday between the Australian government and Facebook. The amendments include a two-month mediation period that would give social media giants and news publishers extra time to broker agreements before they are forced to abide by the government’s provisions.

The agreements ended a stalemate that prompted Facebook to block all Australian news content last week, preventing them from being viewed or shared. The websites of several public agencies and emergency services were also blocked on Facebook, including pages that include up-to-date information on COVID-19 outbreaks, brushfires and other natural disasters.