Governments around the world are again having a go at reining in the tech giants, and recently, Australia has succeeded in making Google and Facebook squeal.
Earlier this year, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission published a draft of the News Media Bargaining Code which is actually a proposed law.
As with other tech legislation on both sides of the ditch, the NMBC is broad and hard to follow, but it covers digital platforms as decided by the Aussie Treasury, but only Google and Facebook are in the Government's sights currently.
The general idea is that news media will be able to negotiate with Google and Facebook, either as a group or independently, for royalty payments for content.
That could be per news item, an annual license fee, or some other agreement. It's for private news media only, with state-funded companies like ABC and SBS not part of the deal.
Paying for content is something that neither Google nor Facebook have been keen on in the past, as they don't view themselves as publishers, which is a somewhat disingenuous position.
However, stumping up some royalty fees for the two extremely wealthy companies is probably nothing in comparison to the other measures proposed in the NMBC.
These include news media being notified in advance of changes to search and other algorithms, and getting access to the data Google and Facebook hold on how you and I use their services.
Then there's a convoluted arbitration process and the threat of hefty fines of up to 10 per cent of annual turnover in Australia which could stretch to hundreds of millions of dollars for refusing to negotiate.
Ouch. It's arguably the most serious effort at challenging the supranational tech giants, and Facebook has already thrown a paddy about it.
Facebook will disallow Australian users and publishers from sharing local AND international news on the social network and Instagram which it owns, if the NMBC becomes law.
That tough stance is possibly a mistake, with the ACCC already being miffed about it, challenging Facebook to block Australians sharing news if the social network dares.
Google this week "postponed" Australia from the launch of its News Showcase because of the NMBC leaving only Germany and Brazil in the deal.
To be honest, the News Showcase, which comprises panels for Android devices, seems pretty lame. It's worth a mere US$1 billion ($1.5b) over three years and clearly a sop to regulators, with Australia at first getting early access because of the NMBC.
In Australia, academic publisher The Conversation will now have to wait and see if Google thaws News Showcase at some point, along with Schwartz Media and Solstice Media. None of the larger media organisations in Australia were in on the News Showcase; as for New Zealand, well, nothing to announce there as per usual.
Facebook tried a similar tactic with its News service, on which it pays some publishers for content, and sends "additional traffic and new audiences" to others.
Both companies go on about the 2.3 or 3 billion clicks that are said to be worth a few hundred million dollars for publishers, as an example of how the two are good for local media, not bad, and how classifieds being spun off into websites of their own is what killed news sites' revenue.
That's the rather small carrot offered by the two. The stick is that the two will pull their services in Australia. Google has already said that its search service and YouTube are at risk if the law is enacted.
There is a need to regulate the tech giants who hold an enormous amount of power compared to almost any other organisation and even government around the world, and make them participate better in the countries they operate in. Oh, and pay proper amounts of tax as well.
That said, the NMBC is so very 2020: a regulatory stoush between a notoriously journalist-unfriendly government and two companies that make more money out of disinformation ads than actual news — Google for example is quick to point out that while it values news content, "it is not financially lucrative for us".
I'm not holding my breath for a great outcome from that process, one that strengthens independent and well-resourced journalism. Let's hope I'm wrong about that.