As long as the debate on the creation of new “neighbouring” or “ancillary” rights for publishers continues, we will argue for an open, transparent, evidence-based debate. We have yet to see any evidence or justification for these rights.
As publishers of news, information and entertainment, we stand for freedom of the press, innovative media, media pluralism and quality journalism. As innovative, modern, forward looking media, we are committed to maintaining an open and competitive regulatory environment that supports our businesses.
The introduction of a neighbouring right in Germany and Spain make it harder for us to grow online, reach new audiences and develop new markets. They create new barriers for entry for publishers to develop online. In Spain, we are even deprived of control over our own content, and obliged to charge via a collecting society, whether we like it or not.
As those who seek to salvage or expand those rights attempt to reframe their purpose, we continue to believe the creation of new rights will chiefly lead to more red tape and complexity for us. As businesses, we thrive for a European framework that cuts through red tape, not increases it. We thrive to reach new audiences and innovate to develop our business in the digital age. To succeed, we need a business-friendly environment, not one that will drive years of legislative discussions, litigation and the involvement of intermediaries such as collecting societies. New “neighbouring rights” are of no obvious value to us.
This debate has dragged on for too long. What started in Germany in 2009, failed to reach any positive outcome in Germany and Spain, was rejected in France, Austria and Switzerland, is still being discussed seven years later.
In Spain, the introduction of an unwaivable ancillary copyright in favor of publishers in Spain caused small publishers to lose as much as 15% of their web traffic. This is estimated to have cost the Spanish news publishing industry €10 million a year.
We adamantly believe that any publisher’s right must give publishers the choice to consent to the sharing of their content online. Aggregators, search engines and other online services drive valuable traffic to publishers’ websites, particularly smaller or local ones; and this traffic referral creates huge opportunities to generate revenue through advertising.
We encourage the EU to focus on creating the right environment for forward-looking, modern and diverse European press. We therefore urge you to preserve media pluralism in Europe by protecting small, local and regional publishers.
We therefore call on European regulators to reject Article 11 or at least reduce some of the collateral damage to small and medium-sized publishers we expect, including with a view to transposition into national law by (1) ensuring that any new publisher’s right is waivable, (2) providing for a duration which is reasonable and does not extend beyond a year from the first publication, (3) ensuring that all hyperlinks are excluded from the scope and, (4) applying only to short excerpts that do not meet criteria of originality.