EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT WILL VOTE ON CONTROVERSIAL EU COPYRIGHT REFORM PACKAGE ON 4 JULY: WHAT’S AT STAKE FOR EUROPE’S JOURNALISTS AND FREE PRESS?

The controversial EU copyright reform and what you need to know: The copyright package includes the proposal for a Publisher’s neighbouring Right. In 2016, the European Commission proposed a new copyright directive to create “modern EU copyright rules for European culture to flourish and circulate”which included a proposal for a neighbouring right for publishers, designed to protect publishers’ investment in the production of news publications and to help them control the systematic scraping of their content without permission or remuneration. On 20 June, the JURI committee adopted its report supporting the introduction of a Publisher’s Right.

This Publishers’ right:

  • gives publishers the legal standing already enjoyed by music, film and broadcasters which the press needs to assert its copyright online
  • encourages companies that wish to re-use and monetise publishers’ content to negotiate licences
  • excludes individuals from the scope of the right - their right to share links will remain untouched
  • entitles journalists to a fair share of any additional licence revenue granted by the Right
  • specifically excludes hyperlinks from the scope of protection

Why is it controversial?

The Publisher’s Right is opposed by ardent anti-copyright campaigners backed by US internet giants and vested interests who benefit from freeriding on publishers’ content without permission. These opponents insist on promoting the myth that this right would prevent individuals from sharing links.  It wouldn’t.

Where are we in the legislative process?

Four European Parliament committees ((ITRE-IMCO-CULT- JURI ) have now scrutinised and approved the proposal for a Publisher’s Right in the EU copyright reform package.  Most recently, on 20 June, the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), which is the lead committee on the Copyright reform package, voted in favour of a Publisher’s Right. All of these committees voted for fairness; they voted for jobs and professional journalism; and they voted for our consumers to continue to enjoy a free, independent media that underpins our precious democracy and fuels Europe’s rich, cultural diversity; they voted for a Publisher’s Right.

Why does Europe need a Publisher’s Right?

  • to protect the hundreds of thousands of jobs in Europe’s publishing sector and help to slow the alarming rate of journalist redundancies that is increasing year on year
  • to help to make it as unacceptable for newspapers to be copied and monetised without permission online as it has always been offline
  • to help to sustain a hugely diverse press that promotes our European culture and languages
  • to help to sustain a European press that safeguards our precious democracy
  • to incentivise publishers to continue to provide consumers with the quality, fact-checked content that can be found on the internet
  • to encourage innovation and start-ups

What happens now?

Most likely, all MEPs will be asked in the plenary session in July, whether to confirm or not the mandate for negotiations on the copyright package, as was voted for democratically in the Legal Affairs Committee.  The key questions are:

  • Will our MEPs trust the opinion of their expert colleagues who have scrutinised and approved a Publisher’s Right, over the last two years – or will they bow in the face of ferocious anti-copyright campaigning backed by US internet giants and vested interests who have no regard for the free press?
  • will our MEPs support the continuation of a situation that will eventually bring down Europe’s media or will they vote for a fair and workable digital ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, platforms, publishers and every part of the internet community?

If the Legal Affairs Committee’s decision to enter into negotiations with the European Institutions is confirmed by the Plenary, the reform package will be further debated in so called “Trilogue negotiations” held between the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council.

If a majority vote against goes ahead, then further amendments will be drafted and, a month later, the new text will go before the Plenary again.

EMMA, the European Magazine Media Association, is the unique and complete representation of Europe’s magazine media, which is today enjoyed by millions of consumers on various platforms. EMMA represents 15,000 publishing houses, publishing 50,000 magazine titles across Europe in print and digital. See: www.magazinemedia.eu

ENPA, the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, is an international non-profit organisation representing publishers of newspaper and news media on all platforms. In a rapidly changing media environment, ENPA supports publishers with the aim of achieving a successful and sustainable future for independent news media in Europe. See: www.enpa.eu

EPC, the European Publishers Council is a high level group of Chairmen and CEOs of leading European media corporations actively involved in multimedia markets spanning newspaper, magazine, book, journal, internet and online database publishers, and radio and TV broadcasting. See: http://epceurope.eu/

NME, News Media Europe (NME) represents the progressive news media industry in Europe – over 2200 European titles of newspapers, radio, TV and internet. NME is committed to maintaining and promoting the freedom of the press, to upholding and enhancing the freedom to publish, and to championing the newsbrands which are one of the most vital parts of Europe’s creative industries. See:  http://www.newsmediaeurope.eu