Pressing For Greater Rights: The Proposed Press Publishers' Right In The EU

Author:Mr Colm Maguire
Profession:Arthur Cox
 
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The evolution of digital technologies and proliferation of mobile devices have transformed how content is created, distributed and consumed. More and more of us are consuming content and getting our news through a single (probably mobile) source, such as news aggregators or on social media platforms, instead of via traditional means like newspapers or magazines or by browsing different websites. In light of these changing market forces, the European Commission has put forward a "Proposal for a Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market" that aims to modernise EU copyright laws.

Two aspects of the proposed Directive are the subject of much debate: Article 11 which seeks to extend copyright protection to press publishers for the online uses of their press publications; and Article 13, which seeks to introduce enhanced obligations on "online content sharing service providers" for content uploaded by their users. Article 13 will be discussed in part two of this briefing.

PRESS PUBLISHERS: WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

According to the recitals of the proposed Directive, "Publishers of press publications are facing problems in licensing the online use of their publications to the providers of [new online] services, making it more diffi cult for them to recoup their investments." Unless paywalls or other technical restrictions are in place, it is common for online services to reuse or host digital content from press publishers in such a way that users do not need to click through to the original source of the news story or article.

WHY DO EXISTING COPYRIGHT LAWS NOT ADEQUATELY PROTECT PRESS PUBLISHERS?

Unlike, for example, broadcasters or music producers who benefi t from a distinct copyright in their broadcasts and music recordings, press publishers do not have an equivalent copyright in the overall press publication that is distinct from the copyright in each of the articles or news pieces that make up the publication. Unless the writer is an employee of the press publisher (which is oft en not the case) then copyright will vest in the individual writers of each article and not the press publisher itself for the overall publication. According to the recitals of the Directive, as a result of this "absence of recognition of publishers of press publications as rightsholders, licensing and enforcement of rights in press publications regarding online uses by information society service providers in the digital environment is often complex and...

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