Kategorie European Parliament

EP Working Group should respect the full range of views  Am 26. März 2015 - 10:27 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Publikationsdatum 26.03.2015 ~ Art des Materials: Akteure: Schlagworte: Soziales System: Lizenz: 

Last week, several signatories sent an open letter to the coordinator of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright Reform at the European Parliament Jean-Marie Cavada. It calls for an inclusion of the civil society in the process to ensure a balanced representation of views.

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Voss still ignores criticism and does not move an inch   Am 10. September 2018 - 20:13 Uhr von 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"   Am 31. August 2018 - 18:33 Uhr von 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.

Last Tuesday, Sammy Ketz, bureau chief in Baghdad for Agence France Press (AFP), wrote the European Parliament an open letter that was subsequently published in several European news outlets (e.g. The Guardian (with a slightly different version) or Der Tagesspiegel). With a lot of pathos and dramatic reports from his work as a journalist in war zones, he turned the discussions about the introduction of an ancillary copyright for press publishers (the link tax) into a "question of life and death".

"They simply have to pay their dues."

The central statement of the letter can be summarized as follows: while press publishers spare no expenses "to deliver a reliable, complete, trusted and diverse news service", internet platforms help themselves to these reports "without paying a cent" but which they will be supposed to do in the future thanks to the link tax. This is how Ketz describes the current situation:

It is as if a stranger came along and shamelessly snatched the fruit of your labour. It is morally and democratically unjustifiable.

Apart from fully ignoring the fact that publishers also benefit from the online platforms' services, such statements are dangerously misleading. They imply that entire articles are copied and pasted en bloc to other websites like Facebook or Google News. But this is not the case especially because this would already be illegal under current copyright regime. We are only talking about the display of short snippets to linked articles. This action does not constitute a copyright infringement and can easily be prevented by publishers with simple technical measures. 

Without a rights violation, Ketz completely misses the point when he writes that publishers are now "asking for their rights to be respected so they can carry on reporting the news". Does he have any idea what he is talking about? According to the office of MEP Julia Reda, Ketz "didn't seem to know much about the details of [the link tax] and how this new neighboring right is supposed to work" when they talked to him ahead of the release of the open letter. And to make matters worse, Ketz has been briefed by the AFP which has already lobbied for the new publishers' right in the past. This looks pretty much like Ketz had been carefully chosen as AFP's representative in order to reach MEPs solely on an emotional level and so that it can be reported about his dramatic letter subsequently. This is far from what a "trusted" news service should look like.

Support from Germany

The open letter has been co-signed by over 100 so-called "leading journalists" from 27 European countries. One of them – without disclosing it – is Caroline Fetscher who leaps to Ketz's defence in her article for the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. Coincidentally, she also does not seem to have understood what the link tax is all about. The online video platform YouTube gets labelled as a news aggregator and ancillary copyrights are described as "guidelines to copyright". Whatever that is.

She also wrongfully claims that Google had threatened German publishers to delist them from the search index. What Google had actually done was announcing that it will stop displaying the snippets to articles of certain publisher websites. This was only aimed at those publishers that had already sued Google for licence fees arising from the already existing German link tax. Andreas Mundt, president of the German Federal Cartel Office, had declared this move legal precisely because a total delisting was never on the table and Google just intended to do what publishers demanded: stopping to systematically suck editorial departments dry, as Fetscher calls it.

The revolution consumes its children

Fetscher ends her article with a reference to the high profits Google and Facebook made last year. This reveals what the call for a new right is actually all about: Somehow getting a piece of this cake. It is sadly ironic that on the (alleged) way to their goal publishers leave behind what they insist the platforms' money is needed for: high quality journalism. All articles that fight for the new publishers' right consist of a plethora of skewed and uninformed assertions while they lack profound arguments. Maybe there are none?

We are not against the link tax because we want to damage journalism and undermine the freedom of press. It is quite the opposite! We too want a strong, independent press that informs the people and exposes irregularities. The greed for the profits of US companies has blinded the publishers' eyes. They don't (want) to see the problems that are inherent in an ancillary copyright for press publishers. It is not only the private users that will have to deal with the threatening consequences but also innovative start-ups and especially smaller publishers as they heavily rely on being found via platforms and news aggregators. But this is exactly what the link tax will inevitably prevent. The hoped-for cash flow will never happen anyway.

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Svoboda on link tax: "I do not see any positive consequences for anyone"   Am 7. August 2018 - 11:32 Uhr von 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. Weiter

JURI has adopted link tax   Am 20. Juni 2018 - 13:11 Uhr von 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"   Am 19. Juni 2018 - 12:03 Uhr von 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? Weiter

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Take a minute to #SaveYourInternet   Am 12. Juni 2018 - 17:23 Uhr von 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. Weiter

Over 100 MEPs sign an open letter against introduction of link tax   Am 7. Juni 2018 - 13:27 Uhr von 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. Weiter

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Voss's changes can not cure the rotten root   Am 17. Mai 2018 - 17:03 Uhr von 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. Weiter

JURI members try to water down results of their own requested study   Am 8. Dezember 2017 - 16:21 Uhr von 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. Weiter

LIBE Committee remains silent on link tax   Am 21. November 2017 - 1:00 Uhr von 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. Weiter

ITRE deceives itself by attacking research and open access   Am 21. Juli 2017 - 17:14 Uhr von 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. Weiter

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Two more EP Committies gang up against free linking   Am 12. Juli 2017 - 11:42 Uhr von 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. Weiter

Parliament's largest group to fully endorse Commission's proposal for a link tax   Am 9. Juli 2017 - 17:47 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The European Commission's proposal for an ancillary copyright for press publishers has received a tremendous amount of criticism from many MEPs of all groups of the European Parliament. But now the largest group, the European People's Party (EPP), has adopted a joint position that fully supports the Commission's line while ignoring the European people's voices and all academic advice. Weiter

Rogue members try to hijack LIBE Committee   Am 14. Juni 2017 - 18:29 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Almost a month ago, in mid May 2017, the draft opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on the EU-Commission's proposal for a new copyright directive has officially been published. As things just turned out, some hardliners suddenly want to amend it so that it will be strongly in favour of an ancillary copyright for press publishers. Weiter

Official version of Comodini report published   Am 20. März 2017 - 19:06 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Last Friday, the official version of MEP Therese Comodini Cachia's (EPP, Malta) draft of her report on the Commission's proposal for a directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM) was published. Comodini is the elected rapporteur of the leading committee for legal affairs (JURI). Although some minor changes have already been made compared to the version that was leaked a few days ago, the most important points have all been kept. The deadline for tabling amendments is March 30th. Weiter

MEPs sign Open Letter to Commission   Am 18. Dezember 2015 - 12:11 Uhr von Tom Hirche

A cross-party coalition formed by over 80 MEPs has written an Open Letter to President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, to European Commissioner for Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip as well as to European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger. They are "deeply concerned about the Commission's Communication 'Towards a modern, more European copyright framework'". Weiter

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Martin Schulz vs. Parliament   Am 6. November 2015 - 14:35 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Martin Schulz (PES), President of the European Parliament and a trained bookseller, gave a Keynote at the Publishers' Summit this Monday in Berlin. It soon became clear that he disagrees with the majority of the Parliament in the matter of an ancillary copyright for press publishers. Weiter

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Last-minute amendment to Reda report!   Am 8. Juli 2015 - 22:00 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The ancillary copyright for press publishers might find its way into Julia Reda's report for a progressive copyright reform. A corresponding amendment was tabled in the last minute. Weiter

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EP Working Group should respect the full range of views   Am 26. März 2015 - 12:26 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Last week, several signatories sent an open letter to the coordinator of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright Reform at the European Parliament Jean-Marie Cavada. It calls for an inclusion of the civil society in the process to ensure a balanced representation of views. Weiter

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