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Microsoft President Brad Smith. Photo: David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft President Brad Smith told Axios in an interview that the U.S. and other countries should consider adopting media rules like those Australia is poised to soon enact to force tech companies to pay publishers for content.

Why it matters: Both Facebook and Google have said they can't run their businesses as usual with the code in effect and warn that if Australia passes it as expected, they'll pull some of their services from the country.

"I would be the first to acknowledge that we recognize that this is an opportunity to combine good business with a good cause," Smith told Axios.

  • Microsoft has backed Australia's planned code, suggesting it could help even the playing field in search and make Microsoft's Bing search engine a more viable competitor for Google.
  • Smith noted that Microsoft, which has a revenue-sharing program with publishers through Microsoft News, would be able to bring more revenue to publishers in Australia if it had more market share.
  • "We can't share revenue unless we have revenue to share," he said.

Catch up quick: The new bargaining code is expected to be delivered to Australian lawmakers as soon as this Friday, and passed within the next two weeks. That would make Australia the first country to force Google and Facebook to compensate news publishers or else face hefty fines.

  • In response, Facebook says it may block users from being able share news links in Australia. Google says it may have to stop making Google Search available in the country.
  • Other tech giants can be added to the code if regulators find enough evidence that their size or scope could drive a power imbalance with news companies.

Several key tenets of the code could be taken up in the U.S. and other countries, Smith argued, even without importing the rules wholesale.

  • "We shouldn't be too quick to conclude that we can't innovate in the U.S. the way the Aussies are," he said.
  • Already, U.S. lawmakers have proposed giving news publishers an antitrust exemption similar to a provision in the Australian code that would let them band together to jointly negotiate against tech platforms.
  • Smith said that's one area where the U.S. could follow Australia's lead, along with imposing transparency obligations on the platforms and requiring them to go through an outside arbitrator to negotiate payments with publishers for linking to their content.

Between the lines: Google and Facebook take particular issue with the arbitration clause in Australia's code, which would also see a government-appointed panel set the payout rate if the parties can't reach a deal.

  • Sources say that the tech giants worry that involving third-party arbitrators could help publishers successfully make unreasonable demands.

The other side: Smith said this style of negotiation, commonly known as baseball arbitration for its use in the MLB, "encourages reasonable negotiation."

  • "This is a tried-and-true matter around the world," he said.

The big picture: Both Google and Facebook have in recent months created new features that steer money to news outlets without having to totally reimagine their businesses.

  • Google has started to roll out its "Google News Showcase" product in the U.K. and Argentina. Facebook launched its Facebook News Tab last week in the U.K.

What to watch: News Corp, the global publishing giant run by Rupert Murdoch, has been aggressively lobbying for such reforms, as it owns a sizable portion of the newspaper market in Australia.

  • Smith said he hasn't himself spoken with anyone from the company after Microsoft came out in favor of the law last week, but that News Corp has since reached out to others at Microsoft.

The bottom line: "Sometimes it takes someone who has a powerful microphone to ensure that many voices are heard and that's not a bad thing," Smith argued.

Go deeper: Tech coughs up money for news as regulatory threats loom

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Team USA's Simone Biles watching the women's uneven bars final at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

🚨: Simone Biles will compete in her final Olympic event

⚽: U.S. women's soccer team falls to Canada in semifinals, ending chances at gold

🏋️‍♀️: Laurel Hubbard becomes first openly trans woman to compete at Olympics

🤸: U.S. gymnast Jade Carey wins Olympic gold in floor exercise final

🪧: IOC "looking into" American Raven Saunders' Olympic podium protest gesture

📷In photos: Day 10 Olympics highlights

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletesTrans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Laurel Hubbard becomes first openly trans woman to compete at Olympics

Laurel Hubbard. Photo: Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday as the first openly transgender female athlete to compete at the Olympics.

Why it matters: The presence of trans and nonbinary athletes at this year's Games has been celebrated by LGBTQ+ rights advocates, but stirred controversy among critics, who argue trans women have an unfair advantage even after taking hormones to lower their testosterone.

Index fund investors saved $357 billion over last 25 years

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Investors who’ve opted to passively track the stock market haven’t just outperformed most active fund managers. They’ve also saved a ton of money in fees while doing it.

Why it matters: There are loads of active fund managers aiming to beat the returns of funds that track indexes like the S&P 500.