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Extending a bad idea does not make it better!

Am 15. April 2016 - 19:20 Uhr von Tom Hirche

On 24th March, the European Commission launched its public consultation on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain and on the 'panorama exception'. Looking at the wording, it provides great insight into the Commission’s plans for the upcoming copyright reform.

First of all, the questionnaire completely avoids using the phrase “ancillary copyright”. Instead, it talks about “neighbouring rights”. The reason is simple: The Commission wants to get rid of all the load and negative connotations that come with “ancillary copyright”. It screams “link tax” or “Google tax” and is under fire by various experts, organisations, businesses, users and politicians since ever.

Therefore, by changing the wording the Commission wants to create the impressions that all arguments that have been brought up against an ancillary copyright for press publishers do not apply to this “new” proposed neighbouring right. But that is just utter nonsense. Firstly, the German legal system for example does not distinguish between an “ancillary copyright” and a “neighbouring right” – it is the exact same thing. Secondly, Diana Cocoru has a valid point when she says: “Changing the terminology could lead some readers to conclude that the risk of ‘breaking the internet’ is no longer there.”

But what is way more worrying is the Commission’s idea to not limit the ancillary copyright to press publishers anymore. The survey inquires after the impacts of a new neighbouring right covering publishers in all sectors. This is a horrible idea! The existing ancillary copyrights for press publishers in Germany and Spain have already shown the huge negative impact. There is no need for further surveys. Now extending the same idea is “even a broader attack on the internet and how we use it every day”. It is worse in every aspect. There would be more legal uncertainty for more stakeholders as well as more legal proceedings. Who qualifies as a “publisher”? Such a law would be a larger threat to the public domain due to further publisher’s rights as it creates an additional layer of protection that needs clearance.

Take the survey and prevent the Commission from implementing this tremendous proposal!

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