• Enterprise-Legal-What’s-actually-going-on-with-Google-and-the-Australian-Government

    What’s your most visited website? If it’s Google or Facebook, you’re certainly not alone with Google accounting for more than 98% of search traffic originating from Australian mobile users in 2018. But as the discussions between the tech giants and the Australian Government over a proposed media code heats up, that all may be about to change. This week, Google has stepped up and threatened to pull Australian access to the search engine if the proposed revenue-sharing media laws go ahead. On the other hand, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said that it is “inevitable” that tech giants Google and Facebook will pay for Australian news.

    So what is actually going on?

     

    The Legislation

    The proposed law states that Australian media outlets can negotiate individually or collectively with Facebook and Google over payment for content used and shared on the tech giants’ sites, with other platforms potentially to be added over time. That’s right, the laws would require the companies to pay Australian media companies to link to the content in searches. Google says that this would “dismantle a free and open service that’s been built to serve everyone.”

    ScoMo’s response? “We don’t respond to threats.”

     

    But Why?

    It’s no secret that traditional media companies in Australia have been struggling in recent years with hits to revenue streams such as subscriptions and advertising, and part of this is because of Google and Facebook. Shockingly, for every $100 spent on online advertising in Australia, excluding classifieds, nearly one-third goes to Google and Facebook.

    In the course of their investigation, the ACCC found that news outlets lack bargaining power when it comes to negotiating with the tech giants over compensation for content publishing, in part because the outlets rely so heavily on Google and Facebook to reach readers.

     

    What Does This Mean for Your Business?

    If Google does say "cya" to Australia, it’s going to mean more than saying gday to a new search engine. It could have huge implications for your business.

     

    Digital Advertising:

    Many businesses (perhaps even yours) rely heavily on digital advertising through Google, with the digital advertising market for Google search in Australia valued at around $4.3 billion per year. Google now accounts for more than 51% of all online advertising. If Google is gone, the way that businesses advertise is going to have to go through a dramatic change. Your advertising dollars won’t stretch as far, as you’re going to have to channel advertising across multiple platforms.

     

    Software and Hardware:

    Do you use Android devices or Google Maps for your business? What about Google Docs or Google Drive? This added reliance on Google could leave your business stranded if Google decides to exit the Australian market.

     

    Business Presence:

    If Google were to exit the Australian market, you’re going to have to start over when it comes to establishing your online presence. Not only will you be unable to monitor Google’s content relating to your business, but you’re going to have to start over on other platforms. Think you know how to best optimise your keywords to work with Google? Well you may need to learn how the algorithm works on multiple other search engines.

     

    New Opportunities

    It’s not all bad news! If Google exits the Australian market, they will create space for new players to both enter the scene and increase their own business offerings. From developing new platforms to increasing existing business offerings to offer services that help in a new-Google-less world, the opportunities could very well be endless!


    What Next?

    At the moment as negotiations between the Australian Government,  Google, and Facebook continue, all parties are on a mission to win supporters. Google has raised the ante by including a message and link at the top of every page.

    Enterprise Legal - What's actually going on with Google and the Australian Government

    On the other side, the ACCC have announced that they may bring a third lawsuit against Google for misuse of market power in the advertising sector and breaching competition law and the Government have made it clear that they intend to continue the fight.

    No matter what side you’re on, there probably will be huge implications for your business as the fight continues to ramp up!

  • Enterprise Legal - Recent Changes to Corporations Act Significantly Impact Timing for Director Resignations

    In February 2020, changes were made to the Corporations Act2001 (Cth) which significantly impacted the date on which Company Directors were deemed to have resigned. A 12-month transition period was implemented following these changes, which meant that as of 18 February 2021 these changes now apply in practice.

    The timeframe for which a Company must notify ASIC of any resignation of a Director remains at 28 days after the resignation, however the new changes mean that if the Company does not give notice to ASIC (by lodging a Form 484) within that time period, the relevant Director will be deemed to have resigned on the date that ASIC actually receives the Form 484 (which could well be a date that is long after when the practical resignation took effect).

    Prior to these changes, a failure to meet this timeframe resulted in the Company being required to pay a fee for the late notification, but didn’t negatively affect the resigning Director. In those circumstances, the task of notifying ASIC was generally left with the Company’s Accountant to carry out and the resigning Director didn’t usually have any cause for concern about whether the timeframe was met. This was because the Company was typically required to pay the late notification fee (not the resigning Director) and the resignation took effect in accordance with whichever date was specified in the notification (which means the resignation could be ‘backdated’ appropriately).

    Moving forward, resigning Directors should now carefully consider what steps they can take, to ensure that notification is given to ASIC by the Company within the required timeframe. This will allow the resigning Director to ensure their resignation takes place on the relevant date, importantly ensuring that the Director does not unintentionally remain liable in their role as a Director of the Company.

    Some recommended steps that a resigning Director could take, are to take on the onus of lodging the Form 484 (where practical) or to include additional clauses in share sale documentation (or other agreements which deal with the Director’s resignation) to impose a positive obligation on the Company to lodge the form within the required timeframe, with penalties, indemnities and releases to follow until such time as the Form 484 is submitted.

    Do you need assistance with company restructuring or officeholder resignations? Contact our expert Business Law team, led by Principal Director & Legal Advisor, Peta Gray. 

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