The "Alternative Compromise" could hardly be worse  31/05/2017 by Tom Hirche

In her just published blog post, MEP Julia Reda (Greens/EFA) draws attention to the alarming developments within the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee. Instead of joining the committee's internal negotiations, Belgian MEP Pascal Arimont (EPP) is currently gathering support for his own "Alternative Compromise Amendment on Publisher’s Right" which is the worst we have seen so far in this debate.

For several weeks now, IMCO Committee Rapporteur MEP Catherine Stihler (S&D) is working on a compromise to the Commission's proposal for a directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM). She is said to regularly meet with representatives from other EP groups and takes into account the concerns from various stakeholders in order to reach a balanced compromise that the majority of IMCO members can agree on. Next week on June 8, the committee will have its vote on her compromise. Right now, the Commission's plan to introduce a new right for press publishers faces rejection.

But Stihler's work is severely under attack by the "alternative compromise" of MEP Pascal Arimont who seems to have left IMCO's negotiating table. Instead, he seeks support from other MEPs for his own text. Calling it an "alternative compromise" could not be more delusive as it goes even beyond what the European Commission did propose.

First of all, Arimont wants to greatly extend the scope of the new publisher's right. He wants the limitation to digital uses to be deleted so that also print uses of press publications shall be covered. Not enough, scientific journals which are explicitly excluded in the Commission's proposal, shall now be explicitly included. "A move that would spell disaster for any open access initiatives", as Julia Reda puts it. On top of this madness, the term of protection shall be extended to 50 (!) years and be applied retroactively!

But it would not be a compromise without something to calm down the opponents of the publisher's right:

The protection afforded to publishers of press publications shall not cover individual words or hyperlinks to works available on another website, where such links only contain information necessary to find and, or request the source's content.

How generous! We will be allowed to only use the naked link in the future. Why would anyone want to use the headline of a news article as an indicator for the linked content anyway? And the exception for "individual words" is working like a charm in Germany where even after almost four years of intense discussions and court battles nobody knows what is to be understood by this. Massive legal uncertainty will be the consequence.

This proposal is insane and absurd but will do severe damage if it finds the support of the IMCO Committee. We cannot let this happen. Find out which MEP from your country sits in the IMCO Committee and request them to vote for MEP Stihler's compromise. A list of the Committee members can be found here.

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