Canadian publishers demand link tax  14/10/2016 by Tom Hirche

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Canada is infected. It took some time but now it is there. The very persistent thought that already overran Germany and Spain and is currently trying to subdue the European Union. Its name: Ancillary copyright for press publishers – or just the link tax.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage of the national parliament is contemplating the future of media. One of the hottest topics right now is a reform of copyright which especially the newspaper industry sees as the solution to all their problems. And again it is the news aggregators that "steal" the publisher's hard work without giving anything in exchange. Or as Peter Kvarnstrom of the Glacier Media Group put it:

"Our creators and publishers pay to create content that many news aggregators, including the CBC, republish, copy, broadcast, and sell advertising without compensating the creator or the copyright holder. This must be addressed."

No, it clearly must not. Like everywhere else, the articles created by journalists are protected by copyright rules. In this case for 50 years. It is already against the law to republish, copy or broadcast someone's article. No new rights needed. The aggregators pay their compensation in the form of users who come to the publisher's site to read the full article. An ancillary copyright for them is the completely wrong mean to get the publishing industry back on track.

Fortunately, one of Canada's foremost copyright experts, Professor Michael Geist, was there to tell the parliamentarians how bad of an idea it is. Later, he blogged

"Attempts to limit linking – whether by regulation or the imposition of fees – would undermine critical freedoms. Moreover, creating a link tax would likely mean that sites and search engines stop linking to news content. Such an approach would hurt smaller news organizations, independent bloggers, and others who are dependent on links to find their audiences."

Let's hope the the foolish thought will not take hold of yet another politicians mind...

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