Opposition against link tax gets big ally from Spain  24/03/2017 by Tom Hirche

Again and again the big (mainly German) publishing houses claim that an ancillary copyright for press publishers will do great good to their industry as a whole. They repeat their mantra despite the fact that several publishers are explicitly rejecting the introducing of such a right since this idea emerged in Germany a few years ago. Now, at a time when the European Parliament prepares to stop the Commission's plans, a major Spanish publisher joins those "rebels".

El País, the largest and internationally most renowned Spanish newspaper, has published an op-ed commenting on the Commission's proposal for a new copyright directive. While certain aspects "deserve to be evaluated", the text voices some very serious criticism when it comes to the ancillary copyright for press publishers a.k.a. the link tax:

But anybody who thinks that those rights can be turned into a fortress from which to impose obligatory and inalienable fees is mistaken. This is a model that has been shown to fail in Germany, in 2013, and in Spain in 2014. 

We highly welcome this clear statement and hope for more publishers to follow this example. Our representatives in the European Parliament need to understand that this right is pushed by only a handful of publishers who ignore all warnings and predictions from experts across Europe.

As Spain is one of the two countries that already passed legislation directly attacking the right to link, El País has witnessed the consequences first hand and thus gained its very own experiences especially after Google News Spain was shut down as a result. "Past experience and present reality" lead them to the conclusion "that a way forward based on cooperation between the media and technology companies is required, rather than through confrontation."

El País belongs to the Spanish media conglomerate PRISA whose CEO Juan Luis Cebrián had criticized the Spanish law in the past, saying that "there is a formidable consensus that no-one likes the law” and “as long as I am president of PRISA, no part of the media group will collect the [ancillary copyright] fee".

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