Future of press freedom and professional publishing in hands of MEPs


Ardent anti-copyright radicals, US internet giants and vested interests that commercially benefit from freeriding on publishers’ valuable content continue to wage a loud and misleading campaign against a proposed EU copyright reform that is working its way through the EU legislative process.

Although MEPs voted in the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee last Wednesday, June 20, to adopt the proposal for a Publisher’s neighbouring Right that would help make copyright fit for the digital age, it is expected that the full Parliament will be asked to vote on the Copyright reform in Plenary next week to decide if it should go to trilogue, the next legislative stage.  Four parliamentary committees have scrutinised and approved the Publisher’s Right over the last two years.

The Publishers’ right:

  • gives publishers the legal standing already enjoyed by music, film and broadcasters, which the press needs to assert its copyright online
  • encourages companies that wish to re-use and monetise publishers’ content to negotiate licences
  • excludes individuals from the scope of the right – their right to share links will remain untouched
  • entitles journalists to a fair share of any additional licence revenue granted by the Right
  • specifically excludes hyperlinks from the scope of protection
  • is essential for small newspapers and magazines with their numerous journalistic digital startups across Europe who have even greater challenges than large publishing groups when attempting to exercise their rights against US corporations.

Carlo Perrone, President of the European Newspapers Publishers Association, appealed to MEPs: “Only a professional journalist is capable of producing information that can be distinguished from the huge sea of fake news that populates the internet. And only by publishers earning a fair share of the value that content creates will journalists be able to fulfil their role that is essential for pluralism and quality of information. A vote against intellectual property rights is a vote against press freedom."

Angela Mills Wade, Executive Director of the European Publishers Council, said: “A Publisher’s Right will help to make it as unacceptable for newspapers to be copied and monetised without permission online as it has always been offline. Meanwhile, consumers will benefit from a diverse and content-rich internet while being able to continue to share links as publishers have always encouraged them to do.”

Wout van Wijk, Executive Director of News Media Europe, said: “We need a Publisher’s Right to protect the hundreds of thousands of jobs in Europe’s news media sector and, in particular, to protect the future of professional journalism and its role in facilitating the democratic debate.”

Christoph Fiedler, Chairman Legal Affairs of the European Magazine Media Association, said: “Each vote for the Legal Affairs Committee’s compromise will be a vote for the hundreds of thousands of people working in the unique European cultural and media landscape: The professional work of journalists, composers, photographers, filmmakers, singers and other artists in the whole of Europe urgently needs better protection in the digitised world.”

MEPs have been bombarded by over 35,000 emails and automated telephone messaging by companies desperate to stop copyright being made fit for the digital age.

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