Publishers’ right proposal gets slammed by the European Parliament’s own policy center

On 11 October, the European Parliament’s Policy Department published a study entitled “Strengthening the Position of Press Publishers and Authors and Performers in the Copyright Directive” commissioned by the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee. The European Innovative Media Publishers are reassured to see that the study agrees with our arguments, and moreover, it also calls for the rejection of Article 11 of the proposed Copyright Directive as it stands.  

The study highlights that the proposed right for press publishers “has proved extremely controversial” and that there has been considerable lobbying around it. Instead of mediating between conflicting claims of lobbyists for or against Article 11, the study focuses on the academic criticisms and the empirical evidence relating to the national precursors of the proposal in Germany and Spain. It stresses that there is nearly universal criticism of the proposal among independent academics from all over Europe. The study adds that while most commentators question the need for or desirability of an ancillary right, some commentators have even questioned the competence of the EU to intervene in this field.

The main points of criticism to the publishers’ right boils down the fact that the right will not leed to a sustainable press industry and is unlikely to make it easier for publishers to conclude licences and enforce rights.

The study concludes that “there are real concerns surrounding the rather uncertain effects of the right, and many of the problems facing press publishers can be resolved by a much less controversial intervention. We therefore approve the proposal made in the draft JURI opinion, namely that the press publishers’ right be abandoned and replaced with a presumption that press publishers are entitled to copyright/use rights in the contents of their publications.”

The study comes as a hard blow to JURI MEPs that still advocate in favour of a new publishers’ right. However, it appears that the JURI members might not get the chance to be confronted with the study until after the vote takes place. According to a blog published by MEP Julia Reda (Greens, Germany), the authors of the study were scheduled to present their findings to JURI on the 21th November, the same date the vote on the Copyright Directive is supposed to take place. However, it now appears that the JURI secretariat is unwilling to confirm whether the study will be presented to the MEPs that commissioned the study at all.

The study is yet another proof that the publishers’ right proposal will not solve the issues that it is set to solve. In fact, it will threaten the futures of smaller, innovative, niche and regional publishers and lead to unfair competition as bigger media companies will benefit from higher barriers to entry and better access to platforms.

Once again, we call on policy-makers to reject this proposal and get copyright fit for purpose!

Join us in a movement to FixCopyright!

Signed by: European Innovative Media Publishers

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