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EU Parliament-Commissioned Study Pans Proposed Publishers’ Right

As faithful DisCo readers might remember, the “publishers’ right” or “ancillary copyright for press publishers” is an exclusive right granted to publishers for the online uses of their press publications, introduced by the European Commission in its copyright directive proposal in September 2016 – despite the failure of similar measures introduced in Germany and Spain.

We have often argued ([1], [2], [3]) that such a right would undermine media pluralism, access to information and digital innovation and called on the European Parliament and European Council to reject the introduction of this right.

Today, the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee of the European Parliament, which leads the work on this copyright proposal, published a study commissioned on the press publishers’ right (Article 11 of the Copyright proposal).

This study, titled “Strengthening the Position of Press Publishers and Authors and Performers in the Copyright Directive” and authored by L. Bently, M. Kretschmer, T. Dudenbostel, M. del Carmen Calatrava Moreno and A. Radauer, supports many of the arguments previously made on DisCo on the press publishers’ right.

The authors recommend that the European Parliament adopt the proposal of former MEP and Rapporteur Therese Comodini Cachia, i.e., the introduction of a presumption of rights to the benefit of publishers of press publications, entitling them to defend in their own name the rights of authors and to seek remedies in respect of works published in their press publication (see DisCo’s discussion of this proposal here).

The authors also observe that:

  • “if the ancillary right is adopted, it seems clear that some hyperlinking will be implicated” (p. 42) (emphasis added);
  • it is “doubtful that the proposed right will do much to secure a sustainable press” and that the “implications of article 11 for the re-use of snippets are […] extremely serious” (p. 40);
  • there is “no concrete need to extend” this provision to cover print as well as digital uses, and they caution the EU Parliament strongly against this extension (p.39);
  • extending the scope of this provision to cover (academic) journals would strongly undermine open access policies (p. 38).

This report highlights once again the dangers of introducing a “press publishers’ right.” Such a right would endanger media pluralism, linking (thereby access to information) and digital innovation without contributing to the development of a sustainable publishing industry. While previous studies and the evidence gathered in public consultations were largely ignored by the European Commission, the conclusions of this new study should be taken into account by the European Parliament and the European Council.

European Union

DisCo is dedicated to examining technology and policy at a global scale.  Developments in the European Union play a considerable role in shaping both European and global technology markets.  EU regulations related to copyright, competition, privacy, innovation, and trade all affect the international development of technology and tech markets.