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Aktuelles

Vorschlag aus Großbritannien: Facebook und Google als Verlage behandeln   Am 18. Oktober 2017 - 10:56 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Vergangene Woche wurden Überlegungen aus Großbritannien zur Regulierung von sozialen Medien bekannt. Man denke darüber nach, Google, Facebook und Co. als Verlage einzustufen, um sie so strengeren Kontrollfpflichten zu unterwerfen. Im Interview mit dem Deutschlandfunk Kultur machte Dr. Till Kreutzer deutlich, dass er dies für den ganz falschen Schritt hält. Weiter

Oettinger: "Mir liegt das Leistungsschutzrecht sehr am Herzen"   Am 19. September 2017 - 23:22 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Anfang dieser Woche fand in Stuttgart der Jahreskongress des Bundesverbands Deutscher Zeitungsverleger (BDZV) statt. Unmittelbar davor hatten die "Stuttgarter Nachrichten" ein Interview mit EU-Kommissar Günther Oettinger veröffentlicht, das bei vielen Verlegern für Freudentränen gesorgt haben wird. Denn der Politiker hat sich mal wieder für ein europäisches Verlegerrecht stark gemacht – undifferenziert und uninformiert wie eh und je. Weiter

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The neighboring right for press publishers is a thread to Open Content and Open Access   Am 6. September 2017 - 13:37 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

Back in July, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) of the EU parliament suggested a few changes to the Commission's initial proposal for a new publisher's right. One of them is to remove the explicit exception for academic and scientific publications as found in recital 33 of the draft directive. This combined with the already extensive COM proposal would result in a tremendous threat to Open Content and Open Access publishing.

A thicket of rights

Open Content and Open Access publishing are on the rise. Every day, thousands of authors, musicians, academics, artists, scientists etc. license their works under public licenses like Creative Commons. Hereby they voluntarily enable a free use of their music, articles, photos and other content. This trend leads to an ever-growing commons of knowledge that is publicly available for everybody. The very foundation of this development is that the authors are able to decide on their own about the conditions for the use of their works.

This initial situation would change if the EU enacted a publisher's right. This right, no matter if you call it an ancillary right or a neighboring right, adds an additional layer of rights on the content that copyright already protects. The publishers publishes an academic's text and – ta-da! – is awarded an own, generally independent, protection right. So, now the text is double-protected: One right belongs to the author and the other to the publisher. Since the text and its publication are indistinguishable from a legal perspective suddenly two layers of rights for the same subject matter accrue that have two different right holders. It is obvious that these rights will interfere. And this is going to be a huge problem.

Effects on Open Access

At this time, nobody can predict what effects the publisher's right would have on the copyright/author's right in detail. Even less clear is how an introduction of such a right would affect Open Content and Open Access licensing. Obviously nobody has spent much thinking on this specific issue.

No Open Content license in the world considers an ancillary copyright for press publishers

One obvious side-effect would be the legal uncertainty that will arise about the question whether or not publisher's rights are covered by established licenses like Creative Commons (CC). Imagine this constellation: An author has published his academic paper in an Open Access repository after first publication in a scientific journal. Both parties agreed on the second publication. Suddenly the new retro-active neighboring right for academic and press publishers comes into force. The effect is that the publisher receives his own exclusive right in the paper. A right that never existed before. 

Here are some of the questions that would arise: Can the Open Access publication of this paper still be used under the Open Content license? Has the publisher a right to stop its use? Can his rights be considered as implied licensed although the right did not even exist when the publisher made his publishing decision? 

Nobody can answer these questions which are essential for the legality and effectiveness of Open license decisions. No existent Open Content license considers publisher's rights explicitly and it is very doubtful that they fit seamlessly into the current licensing schemes. Until the licenses are not revised (which can take years) there will be plenty of legal uncertainty.

Collision of the author's and the publisher's rights

The unclear relationship between a publisher's right and the author's right would cause much more detriments. If every sentence, headline, paragraph is protected by a publisher's right how can I – as an author – write and publish with legal certainty? How can I know whether this or that phrase is not already protected?

Open publications would be particularly threatened by such insanely extensive protection. Being freely available on the Internet they are totally exposed to law enforcement. One can easily imagine the rise of business models for copyright (or rather publisher's right) trolls who screen web publications for alleged infringements and sue authors and other publishers.

The prerogative rule (Art. 11 para 2)

The EU wants to prevent interferences between the author's and the publisher's right in favor of the author by providing a clause you could call a “prerogative rule”. Simply put it shall mean: If an author's and a publisher's right interfere, the author's right trumps the publisher's right. 

You will find the wording in the commission's proposal in Art. 11 para 2: 

“The [publisher's right] shall leave intact and shall in no way affect any rights provided for in Union law to authors and other rightholders, in respect of the works and other subject-matter incorporated in a press publication. Such rights may not be invoked against those authors and other rightholders and, in particular, may not deprive them of their right to exploit their works and other subject-matter independently from the press publication in which they are incorporated.”

This prerogative rule in the legal text is backed up by recital 35 that reads:

"The protection granted to publishers of press publications under this Directive should not affect the rights of the authors and other rightholders in the works and other subject-matter incorporated therein, including as regards the extent to which authors and other rightholders can exploit their works or other subject-matter independently from the press publication in which they are incorporated. Therefore, publishers of press publications should not be able to invoke the protection granted to them against authors and other rightholders. This is without prejudice to contractual arrangements concluded between the publishers of press publications, on the one side, and authors and other rightholders, on the other side."

This rather odd solution – as simple and straightforward it might seem at first glance – needs further analysis. Already a second brief glance reveals its major flaw: According to the last sentence, the prerogative rule can be overruled by contract. This decision will lead in a very large number of cases to the effect that the principle of the author's prerogative is turned upside down. Far most authors who contract with a publisher cannot determine the contractual rules for the licensing, publication and remuneration. Just think about free journalists, photographers or translators. They sign what they are given by the publisher. And the publishers will overrule the prerogative on a general basis in their standard author contracts.

This leaves those cases where non-professionals and the rare professional authors publish exclusively themselves. Here, normally no publisher is involved (so no publisher's right exists) or the author is also the publisher and both rights are in the same hands.

But there are still numerous cases of (simultaneous or non-simultaneous) double publications, like in the above mentioned Open Access scenario. Here, the prerogative rule has to prove its worth. The problem is, however: It leaves all relevant questions open. It is utterly unclear what legal effect the rule is supposed to have on particular constellations. That is a real problem. Fact is that all publications consist of, mostly copyright protected, content that was created by authors. Every time something gets published by a third party (which meets the broad definition of a news, academic or other publisher) this fundamental conflict between the copyright and the publisher's right will occur.

Let's make a publisher's right quiz on the basis of the Commission's proposal including the ITRE amendment, shall we? Answer the following questions and you will be awarded the title “copyright wizard”. Take it as a basic assumption that the author has not already waived his prerogative by signing a standard publishing agreement of the publisher.

  • Does the prerogative rule give the author a right to veto exploitation decisions of the publisher? What if the author's contribution is only one among those of many other authors (like other articles on a news site)?
  • Can the author prevent the publisher from suing an aggregator for using snippets of her texts? 
  • Does the publisher generally need the consent for any use/exploitation/enforcement of his neighboring right? 
  • Does the author need to be consulted in acts of enforcing the publisher's right, e.g. in court proceedings when a potential conflict of interests arises?
  • How and who can define what relevant conflicts of author's and publisher's rights are? In other words: Where does the prerogative rule kick in? 
  • What if the publisher ignores the author's prerogative? Are there legal remedies that the author can invoke to stop the publisher? Where are they regulated? What are they like?
  • Can a user of an Open Content that was published later on by a publisher invoke the prerogative rule as a defence when the publisher wants to stop her re-use of the work? 
  • Can the author of the Open Content hinder the publisher to sue his Open Content users? Is there a right to defend them and where is it regulated?

I could phrase myriads of other questions I have no answers to. I would not earn the title apparently and I doubt that there is anybody who could. The resulting legal uncertainty would affect first and foremost the authors. Until every relevant question is solved (if ever) it would take decades full of lawsuits and court decisions.

Open Access and Open Content publishing would be affected in particular because they are practiced in the majority of cases by legal laypersons who cannot and will not consult lawyers. Overcomplicated legal systems are poison to such methods of publishing. One could ask: Might this be the very reason, academic publishers ask for a publisher's right in the first place?

Eroding the public domain

Even if the prerogative rule would effectively protect the authors vis-à-vis the publishers, it would not protect the interest of the general public. 

The publisher's right will in any case undermine the public domain, which is particularly important for Open Access and Open Content publishing like e.g. at the Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive. That aspect might not be overly important for mere news content but it certainly is for scientific works. 

Works that are already in the public domain have no rights owner who could pull the prerogative rule in his favor. Meaning: If someone publishes a work that was already in the public domain he will be rewarded with a new monopoly right for the next 20 years. This problem is already caused by the German “Lichtbildschutzrecht” (the right in simple photographs) as the Wikipedia had to learn painfully just recently.

Just imagine what harm would be caused to the public domain if any (re-)publication of works – academic publications in particular – that are out-of-copyright could be re-protected and therefore appropriated for 20 years. The restriction of the term of protection under copyright would become obsolete. 

Here's how I exemplified this effect on Anne Frank's diary before:

“It is hotly debated whether and where it [Anne Frank’s diary] becomes public domain (i.e. copyright-free) this year [2016]. If book publishers had neighboring rights, free re-publications of the diary would most likely be impossible forever. […]. If publisher's rights were granted for 50 years after the publication, a 1999 edition of Anne Frank’s diary would block re-publications until 2050. If another publisher makes a new edition in 2020, this right would expire in 2070. And so on.

The example shows a number of significant issues: Who owns the publisher’s right in Anne Frank’s diary? The first publisher and/or any later publisher? Would any later publisher need to get a license from the first publisher? What would the right exactly protect? The layout of the book, the text itself, the edited version, all of these things…?”

Vortrag: Text- und Data-Mining und Verleger-Leistungsschutzrecht – Wie die EU europäische Innovationen gefährdet   Am 6. September 2017 - 10:38 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

Datenanalysen haben gewaltiges Potenzial für die Forschung und innovative Wirtschaftszweige. Erst sie ermöglichen es, die Potenziale der Informationsgesellschaft in reales und nutzbares Wissen umzuwandeln. Weiter

Estonia's proposal is good and bad at the same time   Am 31. August 2017 - 18:01 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Summer break is over. Statewatch has leaked a compromise proposal from the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union to the EU Commission's initial proposal for a directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market. When it comes to Article 11 containing the ancillary copyright for press publishers, the Presidency does not come up with only one but with two completely different proposals. Weiter

Publishers will hardly get any money, if anything   Am 30. August 2017 - 13:03 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The publishers pushing for their new right a.k.a. the link tax want to be paid first and foremost by providers of news aggregators and search engines. They demand a fee for the provider's service of linking to their publications and bringing them visitors hence money. Despite the unmatched absurdity of this idea, what numbers are we actually talking about? Weiter

ITRE deceives itself by attacking research and open access   Am 21. Juli 2017 - 16:14 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 - 10:42 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 - 16:47 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

Google's design changes might soon end all lawsuits   Am 3. Juli 2017 - 22:18 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Akteure: Schlagworte: Lizenz: 

German courts have to deal with a variety of lawsuits that involve the German ancillary copyright for press publishers. But Google's design changes might bringt a sudden end. Weiter

Cheap trick shall make us think the Spanish link tax works   Am 3. Juli 2017 - 21:54 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The Spanish link tax is indeed no success story. All it "achieved" so far is the permanent shutdown of Google News Spain which led to a large drop in publishers' site views while not accumulating a single euro. Although this situation will change with the just closed deal, it first and foremost tries to shamelessly fool us into thinking that the link tax is actually working. Weiter

Ansip only believes in surveys that confirm his view   Am 2. Juli 2017 - 18:30 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The European Commission regularly makes use of surveys to gather a wide array of opinions from various stakeholders. But when the result does not meet the preconceived view, its relevance will simply be denied, as it seems. Weiter

Rogue members try to hijack LIBE Committee   Am 14. Juni 2017 - 17:29 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

IMCO supports link tax – several MEPs did not attend the vote   Am 8. Juni 2017 - 20:06 Uhr von Tom Hirche

This morning, the European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) voted on the Copyright in the Digital Single Market directive (2016/0280(COD)) as the first of five committees. The outcome is of great significance to the other votes that are yet to come. Unfortunately, the ancillary copyright for press publishers is still very much alive. Weiter

New paper discusses publisher's right – "unnecessary and dangerous"   Am 1. Juni 2017 - 16:25 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Akteure: Schlagworte: Lizenz: 

With the support of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the European Policy Centre (EPC) has published a new discussion paper titled "Rewarding quality journalism or distorting the Digital Single Market? The case for and against neighbouring rights for press publishers". It is divided into an economy analysis (part I) and a legal analysis (part II). Weiter

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The "Alternative Compromise" could hardly be worse   Am 31. Mai 2017 - 19:20 Uhr von 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. Weiter

Welcome Copybuzz!   Am 10. Mai 2017 - 9:03 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Akteure: Schlagworte: Lizenz: 

If you feel confused and/or want to know what is going on with copyright these and the coming days, there is a new website just for you: CopyBuzz! It was launched at this year's re:publica and is supported by the Copyright for Creativity (C4C), the coalition that seeks an informed debate on how copyright can more effectively promote innovation, access, and creativity. Weiter

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EuGH wird über deutsches Leistungsschutzrecht entscheiden   Am 10. Mai 2017 - 4:09 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Die rechtliche Auseinandersetzung zwischen Google und der VG Media wird um ein neues Kapitel ergänzt, bevor das aktuelle abgeschlossen wird. Zunächst wird der Europäische Gerichtshof (EuGH) entscheiden müssen, ob das deutsche Leistungsschutzrecht überhaupt anwendbar ist. Weiter

Streitgespräch auf der re:publica   Am 9. Mai 2017 - 14:49 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Am heutigen Dienstag diskutieren auf der Bühne 5 der re:publica Dr. Till Kreutzer und Prof. Dr. Thomas Höppner über das Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger. Ohne Moderation wird es dabei zu einem offenen Schlagabtausch der Argumente kommen – wobei für uns jetzt schon feststeht, wer überzeugender sein wird. Dennoch sind wir gespannt, was Professor Höppner, einer der (sehr wenigen) Befürworter eines solchen Leistungsschutzrechtes, vortragen wird. Schaut es euch am besten live an!

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Breiter Widerstand im Europäischen Parlament gegen Presse-Leistungsschutzrecht   Am 18. April 2017 - 8:43 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Die Reform des europäischen Urheberrechts ist in vollem Gang und erreicht allmählich seine heiße Phase. Was das noch vom ehemaligen Digitalkommissar Günther Oettinger (CDU) vorgeschlagene Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger angeht, zeigt sich ein breiter Widerstand über Fraktionsgrenzen hinweg. Weiter

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Evaluation nur eine Farce   Am 7. April 2017 - 9:59 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Vor über drei Jahren hat sich die aktuelle Bundesregierung in ihren Koalitionsvertrag geschrieben, das Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger zu evaluieren. Vergangenen Oktober kam durch eine Kleine Anfrage der Bundestagsfraktion Bündnis 90/DIE GRÜNEN ans Licht, dass der Evaluierungsprozess endlich eingeleitet wurde. Mit einer weiteren Kleinen Anfrage hat man sich nun nach dem aktuellen Stand erkundet – und wird beim Lesen der Antwort nur enttäuscht. Weiter

Opposition against link tax gets big ally from Spain   Am 24. März 2017 - 18:44 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Again and again the big (mainly German) publishing houses claim that an ancillary copyright for press publishers will do great good to their industry as a whole. They repeat their mantra despite the fact that several publishers are explicitly rejecting the introducing of such a right since this idea emerged in Germany a few years ago. Now, at a time when the European Parliament prepares to stop the Commission's plans, a major Spanish publisher joins those "rebels". Weiter

"Urheberrecht geht alle an" – IGEL im Radio   Am 22. März 2017 - 15:41 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Im Rahmen der Sendereihe "Radio Dispositiv" hat sich Herbert Gnauer mit IGEL-Gründer Dr. Till Kreutzer ausführlich über das Urheberrecht in der digitalen Welt und die Reformpläne der Europäischen Kommission unterhalten. Die Folge kann man sich hier kostenlos anhören und bei Bedarf auch herunterladen. Weiter

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Official version of Comodini report published   Am 20. März 2017 - 18:06 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

Stop the censorship machine!   Am 13. März 2017 - 17:38 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Besides the introduction of an ancillary copyright for press publishers a.k.a. the link tax, the European Commission also wants internet platforms to apply automated upload filtering technologies to all of their user's content. Together with 27 other civil society organisations, we have signed an open letter addressed to the European Institutions and urge them to delete this proposal. Weiter

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Legal Affairs committee also demands to abolish ancillary copyright   Am 8. März 2017 - 20:02 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

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400 pages of new insights   Am 24. Februar 2017 - 18:48 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Months ago, Matthias Schindler from the office of MEP Julia Reda (Greens/EFA) has submitted a freedom of information request to the European Commission and just a few days ago he finally received 400 pages (!) of secrets surrounding the proposed European ancillary copyright for press publishers/the publisher's right. POLITICO's Chris Spillane has identified numerous "things you need to know". Weiter

European Parliament committee demands to abolish ancillary copyright   Am 24. Februar 2017 - 13:09 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

Today the draft opinion of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) was published. Here, rapporteur Catherine Stihler (S&D Group) claims a number of sensible and important amendments to the disappointing Commission’s draft DSM directive. Most notably she demands to ditch the ancillary copyright for press publishers (ac) once and for all. Weiter

Leading European copyright scholars fundamentally criticise the ancillary copyright   Am 23. Februar 2017 - 17:32 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

As of today, a broad coalition of European copyright scholars wrote an open letter to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. It openly opposes Art. 11 (ancillary copyright) and 13 (mandatory content filtering). The letter’s first signatories consist of a number of the leading academic experts on copyright. They represent some of the most respected research centres in Europe that deal with copyright research from legal, economical and other perspectives. Weiter

French MEP pushes for an ancillary copyright on snippets   Am 9. Februar 2017 - 19:59 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

Today, the Committee for Culture and Education (CULT) in the European Parliament issued a draft opinion on the DSM directive proposal. Here, the rapporteur, French MEP Marc Joulaud (conservatives, EPP), proposes bluntly the protection (i.e. monopolisation) of even the smallest parts of press publications. He tries to disguise his proposal, however, as a step towards the user’s interests. Weiter