News

The internet has lost   12/09/2018 by Tom Hirche

Today, the European Parliament held its second vote on copyright in the digital single market and it took the worst possible outcome. Amendments to delete article 11 altogether or to alter it into a rule of legal presumption were rejected by a large majority. Instead, MEP Axel Voss's latest proposal for an ancillary copyright for press publishers was adopted. The same goes for his proposal that aims to introduce upload filters in the EU. Read more

Voss still ignores criticism and does not move an inch   10/09/2018 by Tom Hirche

Although summer break has just ended, the next important vote at EU level is already coming up. Members of the European Parliament must agree on a common position on the proposed copyright reform. A key role here is played by MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany), rapporteur on the JURI Committee, who despite all criticism is unwilling to back away from his proposal.

Background

At the end of June 2018, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) had approved the amendments proposed by Axel Voss on the European Commission's proposal for an ancillary copyright for press publishers by a narrow majority. He was also given the mandate to negotiate the copyright reform with the Commission and the European Council. But just two weeks later, the plenary of the European Parliament rejected his amendments altogether and withdrew the mandate.

As a consequence, all 751 MEPs were given the opportunity to table their own amendments to the proposed copyright directive. The deadline had ended on 5 September at 2 p.m. (CEST). The final vote will take place during the plenary session on 12 September.

Unclear wording, no gain of knowledge

In the past, Axel Voss had revised his amendment to the ancillary copyright for press publishers in Article 11 of the Commission's proposal several times before having it finally voted on in the JURI Committee. Now he suggests another change that could not have been more minimal.

In his original amendment as it was adopted by the JURI Committee, it is stated that an ancillary copyright for press publishers should not extend to hyperlinks. However, such a wording is far too vague as it is not clear whether it only covers the "naked" link or also a small ecerpt taken from the linked article to describe where the link leads to.

The new proposal now seeks to explicitly exclude "mere hyperlinks accompanied by individual words" from the scope of the ancillary copyright. Such wording will not bring any clarity. How many are "individual words"? Does it include whole (short) sentences? If not, which scenario did Voss have in mind when individual and independent keywords are not covered by the ancillary copyright law from the outset? Or does the wording imply that even a single word taken from the press article is covered by this new right? Although this is unlikely, a precise answer cannot be given: It is absolutely unclear what this change is supposed to achieve.

History is about to repeat itself

Nevertheless, Voss receives support from MEP Jean-Marie Cavada (ALDE, France). The shadow rapporteur additionally proposes that the new ancillary copyright "shall not apply to uses of insubstantial parts of a press publication, including individual words or very short excerpts." An almost identical exception has been made to the German ancillary copyright for press publishers. But even fice years later, nobody can say with legal certainty what this actually means. There has since been an enormous amount of costly litigation over the correct interpretation with no end in sight. Regardless of the outcome, millions of euros will have been spent for legal proceedings by then in Germany alone. This money could have been invested in much better projects than this "unrealistic nonsense law".

Criticism goes in one ear and out the other

It is incomprehensible why Voss and his fellows strive for a repeat of this debacle and resist the broad criticism so stubbornly. They just seem to not care when Voss's EPP colleague and chairman of the JURI Committee Pavel Svoboda (EPP, Czech Republic) slashed the ancillary copyright for press publishers. They also seem to ignore the open letter addressed directly to Voss and signed by over 100 MEPs from all political groups, the open letters from 25 research institutes and from more than 200 copyright experts from across the EU or the various scientific studies that have already been conducted (like the study carried out on behalf of the JURI Committee).

They all warn against the introduction of an ancillary copyright for press publishers. No matter in what form it comes, it will not eliminate the existing problems but further deepen them to the detriment of consumers, innovative companies and small publishers. There is not a single research study that comes to a different result. But the lack of substantive arguments does not seem to upset the advocates of the ancillary copyright. They shut their eyes and ears and just keep going.

Compromise already on the table

Their behaviour is not understandable especially when a reasonable counterproposal exists that was fortunately introduced by the Greens/EFA and thus will be put to vote. Instead of an ancillary copyright, the press publishers should benefit from a legal presumption. This would eliminate their problems in enforcing the rights assigned to them by authors without exposing the online and publishing industry as well as internet users to unbearable legal uncertainty. Voss's former political group colleague, the previous rapporteur of the JURI Committee for the copyright reform Therese Comodini Cachia (EPP, Malta) had already proposed this compromise months ago.

However, Voss has completely blocked this solution so far despite the fact that he himself does not seem to be convinced of his own proposal. This is proven by his statement from earlier this year which could not be more ignorant: "The ancillary copyright may not be the best idea, but it is, I think, the only one we have so far on the table to somehow improve the situation."

Appeal to reason

In the vote on 12 September you, the Members of the European Parliament, must make a decision for Europe and the Europeans. Vote against the ancillary copyright, no matter in what form it is presented to you by the proponents. It will only do harm and will not benefit anyone. Therefore, either vote in favor of completely deleting Article 11 from copyright reform or endorse the presumed solution. Europe will thank you!
 

Introduction of Ancillary Copyright for Press Publishers now a "Question of Life and Death"   31/08/2018 by Tom Hirche

Before the summer break in Brussels and Strasburg had officially ended, members of the European Parliament got hit by the latest lobbying campaign by press agencies and publishers. With blatant lies and twisted truths they once again called on MEPs to support the widely discussed ancillary copyright for press publishers. Supporting arguments based on actual facts are absent just like they have been in the past. Read more

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Svoboda on link tax: "I do not see any positive consequences for anyone"   07/08/2018 by Tom Hirche

In July 2017, the European People's Party (EPP) had adopted a joint position that fully endorses the Commission's plan for the introduction of an ancillary copyright for press publishers (link tax). But this has not changed the fact that party members are against this new right and actively try to prevent it. With MEP Svoboda, a very influential one has publicly renewed his criticism. Read more

JURI report gets rejected by EP majority   05/07/2018 by Tom Hirche

It was only two weeks ago, when the JURI Committee had finally adopted its report on the upcoming copyright reform. Today, it was rejected by the majority of the European Parliament that withdrew MEP Axel Voss's negotiation mandate. An important step on the way to prevent the EU from causing severe damage to the free flow of information. Read more

JURI supports link tax but plenary can still fix copyright   21/06/2018 by Tom Hirche

Last Wednesday on June 20, the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) voted on the Commission's proposal for a new copyright directive. Unfortunately, the ancillary copyright for press publishers as stipulated in article 11 was adopted with only little suggested changes. But it looks like this has not been the final vote yet. Read more

JURI has adopted link tax   20/06/2018 by Tom Hirche

Today at 10:48, the JURI Committee of the European Parliament has adopted the compromise amendment of rapporteur MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) concerning article 11 with a 13:12 majority. All amendments calling for its deletion have thus been rejected. Now there is only the plenary of the European Parliament that has the power to overturn the plan of introducing an EU-wide ancillary copyright for press publishers. The fight for a free internet is not over!

Sascha Lobo: "Such a nonsense law"   19/06/2018 by redaktion

With the ancillary copyright, some publishers want to get a digital money printing machine from politicians – soon also at the EU level. How did we come to this? Read more

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Take a minute to #SaveYourInternet   12/06/2018 by Tom Hirche

In eight days, the Legal Affairs Committee will finally vote on its compromise amendment for the upcoming copyright directive. This will be followed by the whole plenum of the European Parliament voting on a common position. Your and everybody else's internet freedom is at stake. Act now, get in touch with your MEP and #SaveYourInternet. Read more

German government is intentionally stalling evaluation process to prevent evidence against publishers' right   11/06/2018 by Tom Hirche

It was on 1 August 2013 when the ancillary copyright for press publishers became effective in Germany. Nearly five years have passed by since then with the promised evaluation of one of the worst laws of the recent past still yet to come. But the German government is intentionally stalling the process. Read more

Over 100 MEPs sign an open letter against introduction of link tax   07/06/2018 by Tom Hirche

Today, a total of 104 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the political groups published an open letter addressing MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) who is the lead Rapporteur on the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market for the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee. Read more

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Member States agree on implementation of link tax   29/05/2018 by Tom Hirche

After months of discussions, the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Council (COREPER) has agreed its common position on the text for the upcoming Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. This position will serve as a negotiating mandate for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Despite all warnings, this mandate also allows for the introduction of an ancillary copyright for press publishers aka the link tax. Read more

Voss's changes can not cure the rotten root   17/05/2018 by Tom Hirche

The rapporteur of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament, MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) has updated his draft compromise amendment for Article 11, the ancillary copyright for press publishers, pushing for a vote next month. Although the proposed text is now less extreme compared to the first version from seven weeks ago, it fails to tackle the real problem. Read more

Open letter: "The EU Copyright Directive is failing" and should be stopped   26/04/2018 by Tom Hirche

Another open letter has been sent to the members of the European Parliament, this time by academics from 25 leading intellectual property research centres in Europe. They request them to stop the legislation process altogether if it continues to progress in the form proposed by the recent drafts of the Bulgarian Presidency and JURI rapporteur Voss. Read more

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Nearly 170 academics warn against ancillary copyright for press publishers   25/04/2018 by Tom Hirche

Another open letter calling for the deletion of Art. 11 of the proposed DSM directive has been sent out to the members of the European Parliament today. It was signed by not less than 169 scholars (and counting) from all over Europe of whom 100 are full professors. Read more

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Open letter: 59 organisations encourage Axel Voss to delete ancillary copyright from the DSM directive   19/04/2018 by Tom Hirche

In a couple of weeks, the Legal Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) will release its opinion on the EU Commission’s proposal for a new copyright directive. The responsible rapporteur MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) is currently making his final conversations with the shadow rapporteurs of the other political groups. For this very reason, together with Communia and OpenMedia/Safe-the-Link, we have sent out an open letter that was co-signed by 56 further organisations. Read more

MEP Voss presents the most extreme proposal for a link tax (so far)   28/03/2018 by Tom Hirche

We have called the publisher's right as proposed by the EU Commission in September 2016 an "ancillary copyright on steroids" – for good reasons! Now MEP Axel Voss has published his proposal for the European Parliament's position which is so extreme and destructive, not even the Incredible Hulk would dare to pick a fight. Read more

EU Council is deeply split over link tax   04/02/2018 by Tom Hirche

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Within the EU Parliament's Legal Committee (JURI), the discussions about the Commission's proposal for a new copyright directive are still dragging on. However, with MEP Axel Voss (EVP, Germany) as the Committee's rapporteur it is very likely that the terrible idea of an ancillary copyright for press publications a.k.a. the link tax will be supported. But the situation looks completely different in the EU Council where the number of varying opinions on this topic could hardly be any larger. Read more

Small publishers raise their voices against link tax   04/01/2018 by Tom Hirche

A few weeks ago, several press agencies have joined the large publishing houses in their ongoing lobbying for a new neighbouring right. Carlos Astiz, Chairman of the European Innovative Media Publishers, was disappointed by this endorsement and stood once again to take a stance for the smaller publishers, content creators and journalists. Read more

EU Commission tried to hide a study that debunks the publisher's right as ineffective   03/01/2018 by Tom Hirche

What once seemed to be a single incident turned out to be a habit: Once again it has been revealed that the EU Commission tried to hide the results of a self-requested copyright-related study because the results were not suitable. This time the study is all about "Online News Aggregation and Neighbouring Rights for News Publishers". Read more

Press agencies join the collective moaning and demand new publisher's right   14/12/2017 by Tom Hirche

Some of Europe's largest press agencies urge the EU institutions to introduce the proposed ancillary copyright for publishers plus they also want to belong to the beneficiaries. Among those agencies are the German DPA, the French AFP as well as the Spanish EFE. Read more

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JURI members try to water down results of their own requested study   08/12/2017 by Tom Hirche

A couple of months ago, the European Parliament’s directorate general for internal policies of the union had commissioned a study on the proposed new right for publishers. After the results were published last October, they were finally presented to members of the Legal Affairs Committee yesterday. What should have been an informing workshop turned out to be yet another opportunity for the right's supporters to shut down arguments with their lies and to cause confusion.  Read more

New open letter representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders   04/12/2017 by Tom Hirche

Together with over 80 other organizations, we have co-signed an open letter to the Ministers attending the Competitiveness Council and the EU institutions last week to once again warn them of causing severe damage. Read more

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LIBE Committee remains silent on link tax   21/11/2017 by Tom Hirche

Today, the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) has finally voted on its opinion on the Commission's proposal for a new copyright directive. While problematic provisions for mandatory content filtering have been tackled, the Committee did not take any stand when it came to the ancillary copyright for press publishers aka the link tax. Read more

European Parliament's study suggests abandonment of link tax   13/10/2017 by Tom Hirche

Now that is some good news! An independent study reviewing the publisher's right a.k.a. link tax that had been requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) has just been published this week. It confirms once and for all what we and others were saying for quite some time now: the link tax will be harmful and should therefore be abandoned right away. Read more

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The neighboring right for press publishers is a threat to Open Content and Open Access   06/09/2017 by Till Kreutzer

Back in July, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) of the EU parliament suggested a few changes to the Commission's initial proposal for a new publisher's right. One of them is to remove the explicit exception for academic and scientific publications as found in recital 33 of the draft directive. This combined with the already extensive COM proposal would result in a tremendous threat to Open Content and Open Access publishing. Read more

Estonia's proposal is good and bad at the same time   31/08/2017 by Tom Hirche

Summer break is over. Statewatch has leaked a compromise proposal from the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union to the EU Commission's initial proposal for a directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market. When it comes to Article 11 containing the ancillary copyright for press publishers, the Presidency does not come up with only one but with two completely different proposals. Read more

Publishers will hardly get any money, if anything   30/08/2017 by Tom Hirche

The publishers pushing for their new right a.k.a. the link tax want to be paid first and foremost by providers of news aggregators and search engines. They demand a fee for the provider's service of linking to their publications and bringing them visitors hence money. Despite the unmatched absurdity of this idea, what numbers are we actually talking about? Read more

ITRE deceives itself by attacking research and open access   21/07/2017 by Tom Hirche

Already three out of five EP Committees have voted on their opinion on the Commission's Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. So far it seems we are heading into a future where a European wide publisher's right will be present. One particular Committee even tries to directly attack open access publishing. Read more

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Two more EP Committies gang up against free linking   12/07/2017 by Tom Hirche

After the European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) voted on its opinion on the new Copyright Directive a month ago, it were the Committees for Culture and Education (CULT - opinion) and for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE - opinion) that both had their turns yesterday. The result: the suggestion of an even worse ancillary copyright for press publishers. Read more