6th December 2017
It is difficult to imagine that anyone would want to deny publishers the right to say "yes or no" to the commercial re-use of their content or deny them the freedom to negotiate contracts and the possibility to enforce when the right has been abused. Yet there appear to be anti-copyright campaigners and vested interests a-plenty campaigning for precisely that.We should ask ourselves why. The neighbouring "Publisher's" right, as proposed by the European Commission in the draft copyright reform, would simply clarify the legal standing of press publishers in a harmonised way across Europe and avoid a patchwork of national solutions. It is not a links tax, it is not the same as either the German or Spanish law (there is no ancillary right in Spain); although it is worth noting that the German and Spanish laws are starting to bring companies to the table to negotiate with publishers.
Worryingly, a study drafted for the JURI committee that amounts to a collection of quotations from various opponents of the neighbouring right, authored by known opponents of the neighbouring right, continues to regurgitate and repeat misleading myths and untruths that would have you believe the neighbouring right would shut the internet down among others. In fact, without the neighbouring right, the real potential for licensing of web content, including for mass and smaller users, will be near impossible and monopoly positions of the platforms will be reinforced, which in turn will destroy the potential for a copyright-aware market.
We're calling on the members of the JURI committee to do the right thing. So far, in the European Parliament, three committees have voted in favour of the neighbouring right for press publishers, and in some cases improved it, by providing clarity on definitions and, importantly, on individuals' capacity to continue to link and share content, which would address many of the concerns expressed.
MEPs and national politicians are rightly concerned about the ongoing crises of fake news, paid-for political ads and interference with democratic elections, advertising appearing alongside illegal and harmful content on search engines and social media platforms. In this climate, the importance of professional journalism and publishers' ability to invest in professional high-quality content, cannot be underestimated.
By adopting this crucial neighbouring right, Europe's politicians have the opportunity to do something positive - to provide publishers with the tools to continue to invest and innovate, ensuring a free, diverse and independently-financed press for years to come. It would be a missed opportunity to give up on something which enshrines European values of a free press in a democratic Europe.
Find here the remarks by Dr. Ole Jani on the study "Strengthening the Position of Press Publishers and Authors and Performers in the Copyright Directive".
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