HomeInsightsCopyright reforms: News Media Association welcomes European Commission’s proposal for copyright in the Digital Single Market.

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The NMA says that it “broadly welcomes” the new European Commission proposal for a Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market, in particular the provision for publishers to be given a “neighbouring right” for the online use of their news publications.

The NMA explains that the Copyright Act 1911 gave UK publishers ownership of the copyright in works made by their employees in the course of their employment.  This reflects the legal risk assumed by newspaper companies in respect of published content, and recognises the exigencies and unique characteristics of the industry.  However, this is not the case in most European countries.  At European level, news media publishers, unlike film and music publishers or broadcasters, do not possess any specific rights in regards to their published products.

While this may have been a manageable situation in the analogue age, it is no longer the case, given the more complex licensing environment imposed by the digital market place and the way the published edition has evolved into a dynamic creation, the NMA says.  The new rules proposed by the Commission would help publishers combat the systematic unauthorised scraping and republication for commercial gain of vast amounts of digital content by third party distributors and aggregators.

Europe’s leading newspaper and magazine publishers’ associations News Media Europe, EPC, ENPA and EMMA welcomed the proposal to recognise publishers as rights holders in EU copyright law in a joint press release (see item below)

Fernando de Yarza, president of News Media Europe said: “Content may be free to access, it is not free to create. With the Commission’s proposals introducing neighbouring rights for news publishers, it gives European publishers the ability to monetise the investment we make in high quality journalism by seeking compensation from online platforms that turn a profit by caching our content”.

Concerns have been voiced by some that a neighbouring right would lead to a so-called “tax on linking” for personal use.  Catherine Courtney, legal adviser at the NMA commented: “Hyperbolic warnings that the proposals would “break the internet as we know it” and prevent people sharing news online are quite simply scaremongering.  The publisher’s right would not impact upon consumers’ ability to share articles privately, nor would it conflict with any exceptions to copyright”.  To read the NMA’s press release in full, click here.

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