Kategorie government

German government is intentionally stalling evaluation process to prevent evidence against publishers' right   Am 11. Juni 2018 - 17:03 Uhr von Tom Hirche

It was on 1 August 2013 when the ancillary copyright for press publishers became effective in Germany. Nearly five years have passed by since then with the promised evaluation of one of the worst laws of the recent past still yet to come. But the German government is intentionally stalling the process.

The opposition in the German parliament has officially requested information on the status of the evaluation twelve times so far, as Patrick Beuth notes in his article for the German online news website Spiegel Online, but was put off every time. More practical experience was needed and the outcome of the different lawsuits related to the new right should be awaited first, they were told. Until then, the developments in this matter would be carefully watched. Once enough information has been gathered the German government would initiate the evaluation process. But for now, a final verdict was impossible to make.

This last statement is wrong in two different aspects. First, there have been four years of intense discussions before the publishers' right was even adopted. There is us and a number of other websites that constantly write about the effects of this right in Germany. And there is scientific research that has dealt with the German regulation, like the independent study that was requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) or the study that the European Commission tried to hide but that was ultimately disclosed thanks to MEP Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, Germany). All facts are on the table und so far there is almost unanimous agreement that the ancillary copyright for press publishers has failed and is harmful in many ways.

Second, the German government is not even required to come to a final verdict even though it tries to create this impression. All it actually has to do is put together the available information on the effects of the publishers' right. This could and should have already been done.

The reason for the German government's hesitation is as simple as obvious: it is trying to buy time. A preliminary verdict would without doubt come to the same result as all the studies and comments before. But coming straight from the German government, this would be a strong (if not the strongest) evidence against the introduction of a publishers' right on EU level. Including this evidence into the discussions within and between the EU institutions will presumably lead to a sudden end of the introduction plans.

However, the German government must be aware of this. Therefore, it comes with no surprise that it will not take any risks in pushing for an EU-wide publishers' right on behalf of a handful of influential German publishers. The evaluation will probably never come. But if it does, it will already be too late.