French MEP pushes for an ancillary copyright on snippets  09/02/2017 by Till Kreutzer

Today, the Committee for Culture and Education (CULT) in the European Parliament issued a draft opinion on the DSM directive proposal. Here, the rapporteur, French MEP Marc Joulaud (conservatives, EPP), proposes bluntly the protection (i.e. monopolisation) of even the smallest parts of press publications. He tries to disguise his proposal, however, as a step towards the user’s interests.

No link tax – or is it?

“No, the neighbouring right will not affect hyperlinking in whatever form”. That is the story that we were told numerous times by especially the Commission to sooth our most vivid worries about the horrifying ancillary copyright (ac) proposal. Now certain people in the parliament start to adopt that narrative as well. To the hasty observer it might sound pretty good, when the summary (“short justification”, page 5) of the CULT report refers to Art. 11 (the ac rule) as follows:

“In order to acknowledge and secure common non-commercial user practices that are not harmful for rightholders, the Rapporteur … excluded non-commercial uses from the scope of protection of press publications.”

No non-commercial no problem??

Sounds good, right? Well, only on first glance and if you do not look into the proposed amendments in detail. If you do so you might come to the conclusion that the CULT proposal would turn out even worse for the Internet and its users than the original proposal of the commission. If the CULT versions of recitals 33 and 34 became part of the final directive, three things would be official that were widely denied by the ac protagonists so far:

  1. The scope of the ac covers even the smallest part of a press publication. This could be one word, one sentence…
  2. Any kind of addition to a hyperlink, esp. snippets or thumbnails that are necessary to show the relevance of the linked source, is covered by the ac.
  3. Anybody who makes such uses (like we all do regularly) for commercial purposes needs a license from a publisher and has to pay money to do so. That would include bloggers (at least when they have ads on their sites), people who communicate job related (in whatever way), freelance designers who share information on Facebook, MEPs who tweed … you name it.
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