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Small press publishers speak up for a Publisher's Right

27th April 2018

Size is not the issue! Whether they are small, medium or large press publishing houses, their viability is threatened by the inability to exert adequate legal pressure on internet giants and aggregators who routinely commercialise content without permission or remuneration. The EU proposal for a Publishers' Right would help publishers of all sizes encourage those who wish to re-use their content commercially to negotiate licences.

Small press publishers from all over Europe have their say:

Stoyana Georgieva: No Publisher's Right, no quality journalism from Empower Democracy on Vimeo.

Lutz Schumacher, CEO and editor in chief of Nordkurier adds, "A Publisher's Right that protects small publishers will safeguard the freedom of the press and fair competition in Europe."

The current EU copyright reform could potentially come to the rescue of our free, diverse, independent press. But, there are loud, scaremongering voices among those who are fundamentally opposed to the idea of copyright. These radical voices are seeking to undermine a proposal for a Publisher's Right [neighbouring right] that would continue to allow and indeed encourage consumers to share links, whilst giving publishers a digital-age-appropriate legal toolkit to encourage those who currently commercialise their valuable content without either permission or remuneration to negotiate licences.

Support from the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee Rapporteur for a Publisher's Right is to be welcomed. Mr Voss has presented a proposal that would guarantee press publishers an exclusive right as part of the current EU copyright reform.

If you listen to opponents of this proposal, you'd believe that the Publisher's Right would destroy the internet. The reality couldn't be further from the truth. If we want quality, professional content on the web and a journalism profession to hold our leaders to account and ask the difficult questions; if we want press publishers to be diverse in content, language and demographic, then simply asking to be awarded the same neighbouring right already granted to other producers in the film, music and audiovisual sectors is not a big ask. Actually it is high time.

Importantly therefore, and despite what opponents to this reform would have you believe, publishers will continue to encourage our readers to share our articles as we do today. There is nothing in this EU proposal that will criminalise individual use and sharing. Instead, it's about commercial theft. It's about the wholesale scraping, copying and monetising of our content.

We publishers take pride in what we finance. We take the risks, we pay the journalists, we shoulder the legal liability and are responsible and answerable for the content we produce on every platform and device. A Publisher's Right will allow all professional publishers - small publishing houses as well as large ones - to thrive in the digital market place, and to invest in new business models which will support high quality journalism for all citizens to enjoy.

A free and independent press is crucial for a healthy democracy, where freedom of expression and information go hand in hand. The future of our precious free press is currently in the hands of European legislators who must decide whether or not press publishers should be given the legal tools to deal with the large-scale commercial theft of their content and thereby protect and encourage greater investment in professional journalism - or not.

Please get involved in our initiative, www.empower-democracy.eu, if you are committed to a democratic Europe with an independent and pluralistic media landscape.

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