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Taking responsibility for the future of a free and independent press

15th September 2017

This autumn will mark an important milestone for publishing and a free and independent press in Europe. Leading on the EU draft copyright reform, the European Parliament’s JURI committee is expected to vote in November. Their decision on whether or not to award press publishers a crucial neighbouring right will impact directly on the future of the free press and professional journalism, both highly valued in and essential to our democratic society. Member States will also be deciding on their national positions over the next few months and the Estonian Presidency expects to reach a common position by the end of this year.

The neighbouring right for press publishers would help create a fairer digital eco-system whereby consumers can access and enjoy our content 24/7 on multiple platforms and where tech companies and other businesses can use and distribute our content with permission and on mutually beneficially terms. The neighbouring right is crucial: in an era of fake news, publishers need to be economically viable to perform their essential role in society, providing eye-witness accounts, unearthing the truth, calling authorities to account and able to pay for quality investigative journalism.

We welcome the adoption of amendments to the draft directve by MEPs, at committee stage, which put the press publishers more closely on a par with other neighbouring rightholders so they benefit from all the EU harmonised rights relevant to publishers for both online and print publications. Furthermore, we are delighted that important amendments have been adopted to clarify that readers can continue to share or post links and articles for non-commercial purposes.

And, as for open access policies, suggestions by opponents to the reform that a publisher’s right would get in the way of Open Access are ill-founded and misleading. Where a publisher agrees with the author to issue an open access publication, the neighbouring right would be licensed accordingly along the same principles.

Without a publisher’s right, third parties will continue to be able routinely to exploit the lack of legal clarity, and to divert revenue-earning opportunities to their own platforms and services. Without a publisher’s right, publishers’ ability to innovate or negotiate terms and invest in professional journalism is severely undermined.

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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