Supporting press publishers in a digital era

26 January 2018
Iva Tasheva (Former Junior Policy Analyst at the EPC) and Fabian Zuleeg (Chief Executive and Chief Economist)

The history of media, including press publishing, has always been linked to technology advancement. The sector has been continuously transforming itself in line with the emergence of new distribution models and evolving consumer behaviour. Today, digitalisation is the main driver of that change.

Some media players have argued a copyright reform was warranted to regulate the competition between traditional publishers and online news aggregators. In its copyright directive proposal, the Commission has proposed “neighbouring rights”, entitling press publishers to receive remuneration in the form of royalties from online search engines or news aggregators that, for example, display snippets of news in search results.

They are not, however, the answer to the challenges that publishers are confronted with. Such rights would:

  • Limit, at the very least, the options for small, innovative publishers and intermediaries to find new business models and grow.
  • Open the door to an increase in copyright infringement litigations.
  • Run the risk of a differentiated implementation across the member states, thereby questioning legal certainty.

Further reflection is needed on how to ensure European press publishers thrive in the digital age, supporting cutting-edge innovation and competition while ensuring the legal protection for creators and users. An EU platform for a constructive dialogue on the future of the publishing industry through Expert Working Groups or Stakeholder Forums could be a good starting point.

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