SYDNEY— Microsoft Corp. said the U.S. should copy Australia’s controversial proposal that tech companies pay newspapers for content—putting it at odds with Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc.
It isn’t the first time Microsoft has stepped into feuds involving rivals—particularly in areas where they have an edge. Its Bing search engine lags behind Google in market share. Microsoft has urged governments to better regulate facial-recognition technology and last year sided with a videogame developer against Apple Inc. in a dispute about app-store fees.
The Australian proposal, if enacted into law—it is now before a parliamentary committee—could prompt other countries to follow suit in a global transformation of the relationship between tech companies and traditional media.
Some countries, particularly in Europe, have tried to force tech companies to pay publishers, often with little success. Australia’s effort gained momentum last year, when the pandemic-driven downturn further strained the finances of media companies.
“The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post published Thursday. “It should copy it instead.”