Copyright Skirmishes From The European Snippet War 08/12/2017 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)A new European Union ancillary copyright provision for news publishers will help them against news aggregators and platform providers, promised proponents and two panellists favouring the addition of the EU Copyright Reform at a workshop of the Justice Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament in Brussels today (7 December). But it’s a promise that cannot be kept according to a study commissioned by the Parliament and also presented during a feisty discussion at the workshop. Drawing from the experiences of similar ancillary copyright laws in Germany (2013) and Spain (2014) and from a small number of interviews with high-level editors, the study found that financially the licence fees collected from news platforms were a mere “drop in the ocean”. Meanwhile, last year the German Collecting Society VG Wort received €700,000 euros from five licences for the snippets of 200 publishers represented by the body. Not only is this “small fry” for publishers like Springer, said Professor Martin Kretschmer of the University of Glasgow, one of the authors of the study. Springer, one of the big proponents of the legislation made 3.3 billion per year, over 60 percent from digital, “so they are pretty well off,” he said, “and are drawing the bridge up behind them.” Moreover, while collecting a total of €714,000 euros since the law was enacted the VG Wort spent €7.6 million on lawyers and court cases for the project, making the ancillary copyright a money-losing business. In Spain, the authority in charge of implementing the Spanish law, the CEDRO, only recently began to negotiate licences, and according to the study tried to ask for a €2.4 million annual fee from a platform with an annual budget of €100.000 euros. Prof Thomas Höppner, Technical University Wildau and partner at Hausfeld Lawyers, argued the purpose of the ancillary copyright was not to get revenues in the first place. “It is a prohibition right,” he said, preventing those whose business model is based on cheap copying instead of creating. Höppner, who disclosed that he had been a lawyer for the publishers against Google, attacked the authors of the Parliament study as biased and being in the opposing camp long before being awarded the study contract. Of the JURI members, the new lead rapporteur, Axel Voss, defended the ancillary copyright as a way to ensure independence of media organisations from big platforms in the future. “It is no nice law, but I have heard no better idea,” he said. French member of Parliament Jean-Marie Cavada said the Parliament had to protect content from “Asian and American capitalists.” Green Party member Max Andersson on the other hand said: “to save independent media we need a lot of public funding.” The study authors, besides arguing that the ancillary copyright will not make a difference for independent media financially, warned against the negative effects, especially limitations for freedom of expression. Not only could the building of new news platforms in Europe be hampered, but also the unclear provisions in the draft legislation on the possible inclusion of hyperlinks is problematic, they said. Kretschmer pointed to the interviews in the study during which several editors called the legislation anti-innovative and a problem for access to news and freedom of expression. It was not enough that proponents of the proposal just repeat over and over again that there would be no effect on freedom of expression, he said. Prof. Christophe Caron from the Université Paris-Est meanwhile asked especially to allow the courts to develop how much hyperlinks are “communication to the public” and thereby would have to fall under a licensing regime. The JURI will decide on the draft legislation in January before the dossier goes to the plenary. Image Credits: JURI Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com."Copyright Skirmishes From The European Snippet War" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.