The initiative against an ancillary copyright law ("Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht" = IGEL) is a private initiative established by the German copyright lawyer Dr. Till Kreutzer and Philipp Otto in 2010. Up until now, it unites about 130 supporters, these being Internet companies, journalistic blogs, publishers, associations of journalists, law firms, media aggregators, NGOs and foundations. IGEL opposes the ancillary copyright for press publishers because it obstructs innovation and the freedom of information and communication. Instead it fosters market concentration in the press and the online economy. IGEL informs the public about the political processes concerning the ancillary copyright for press publishers and intervenes on the political level as an NGO.
Our key arguments
1. An ancillary copyright for press publishers is neither justified nor necessary
Large newspaper and magazine publishers and their associations claim they need an Intellectual Property Right of their own in order to defend their publications against piracy and free-riding in the digital world. Fact is that copyright law already protects all their published content. Publishers acquire the copyrights from the respective authors (journalists) - in many cases under unfair contractual conditions and for poor remuneration. The alleged “protection gap” for press publications – online and offline – is a myth.
2. There is no need to protect publishers against search engines or aggregators
Large newspaper and magazine publishers and their associations assert that providers of search and aggregation technologies “free- ride” on their content. Fact is that content providers (such as publishers) and search engine providers complement each other. Admittedly, search technologies make money from search results, but at the same time forward users to the publishers´ websites who benefit from more clicks, enhanced visibility, outreach and advertising revenues. Publishers, who do not want to be indexed by aggregators or search engines can opt-out of the ecosystem any time using simple technical means (robot.txt). They can even adjust the way their content is being displayed in the search results. The fact that publishers rather optimise their websites for better search results (SEO) than opting-out, proves that search technologies are not only beneficial for them, but key for their economical and journalistic success in the online world.
3. The ancillary copyright for press publishers is a threat to innovation and competition in the Internet economy and the press
Ancillary copyrights raise the entry threshold to the online market. Companies, such as Google or Microsoft might be able to cope with the legal uncertainty, potential lawsuits and unpredictable remuneration, that will inevitably result from the implementation of those rights. However, start-ups and community projects cannot! The ironic effect of ancillary copyrights for press publishers is that the market dominance of the big players is reinforced to the disadvantage of new and smaller market players. As a result, innovation and competition are jeopardized.
The same is true for the publishing sector. Huge media conglomerates and publishing houses can afford to lose visibility in search technologies, users and clicks, and they have the funds to endure long-lasting lawsuits. Small publishers and bloggers, by contrast, cannot afford these negative effects. They depend on the frictionless and fruitful cooperation with the search providers.
4. A “good solution for an ancillary copyright for press publishers” is an oxymoron
The idea of an ancillary copyright for press publishers is a dead end in itself. No matter how it is designed, it will inevitably lead to the aforementioned issues and collateral damages. The failure of the - very different - German and Spanish approaches for an ancillary copyright for press publishers proves that it leads to a lose-lose-situation for everybody.
5. The ancillary copyright for press publishers is a threat to the freedom of information
Ancillary copyrights for press publishers have detrimental effects on the free flow of information on the Internet. When key search and aggregation technologies are restricted in their indexing of content and presentation of search results, finding the information will be aggravated or sometimes be made impossible.
Our requests for legal changes to be initiated by the European legislator:
- Request the national legislators in Spain and Germany to remove their ancillary copyright for press publishers!
- Interdict other member states to implement ancillary copyright for press publishers on the national level!
- Stop plans to implement an ancillary copyright for press publishers on the European level!