EuroISPA member eco challenges proposed EU copyright reform with new study

EuroISPA member eco challenges proposed EU copyright reform with new study

Brussels, 28 February 2017 – European ancillary copyright is no longer up to date, given recent rapid technological developments. An update was meant to reshape the legal framework and make it future-proof. However, the draft of the copyright regulation that the European Commission presented in September 2016 does not actually do this. This is confirmed by a legal study commissioned by eco; “An EU related right for press publishers concerning digital uses. A legal analysis” by Prof. Alexander Peukart of the University of Frankfurt am Main. “The study reveals clear deficits. The European Commission is overstepping both its own self-defined boundaries as well as its powers in relation to the internal market with this proposal for a European ancillary copyright law,” Oliver Süme, eco Director of Policy & Law, warns. “The proposed ancillary copyright law is not compatible with the E-Commerce Directive or even with European fundamental rights.”

EU ancillary copyright law could slow down innovation in digitalization

With the regulation, the Commission wants to give publishers exclusive rights of use for online news for 20 years. Ancillary copyright law has neither proven itself in Germany nor in Spain and could now slow down innovation in the entire information society and the process of digitalization all across Europe. “Unfortunately the Commission has completely ignored the negative experience that has been had with already existing copyright protections for publishers, and is about to repeat the mistake the German government made,” Süme added.

Missed target: The Commission’s proposal is one-sided and unbalanced

The Commission’s proposal is too one-sided and focuses solely on the interests of the publishing industry. In future, many innovative small companies, start-ups and private bloggers will need licenses to use publications – even just extracts – or to refer to them.

“We saw what this lead to in Germany. The newspapers gave the largest provider a free license and the small providers completely missed out,” Süme reminded.

This proposal has totally missed its target of securing a well-functioning market for the use of work and other protected material. However, according to Peukert’s analysis, this is not necessary at all: “The media landscape has never been more varied or more dynamic than today.”

In particular in terms of business, the approach of ancillary copyright law completely misses the point and destroys a functioning symbiosis. As the Berlin Regional Court already stated in its 9205/14 Kart decision, magazine and newspaper publishers on one side and search engine operators, news aggregators and social media platforms on the other side are currently in a win-win situation. The newspapers and magazines are increasing their readership and their advertising income without having to pay for it.

The draft law is not compatible with European fundamental rights

Last, but not least, Peukert warns in his analysis: “All currently discussed versions of an ancillary copyright for press publishers severely and unconstitutionally contravene the fundamental rights of Internet users, Internet service providers and also the smaller providers of journalistic content – especially the ones who are only active online. The proposal must urgently be reworked.”

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