Snippets not only may but will be illegal

Am 16. Januar 2017 - 8:19 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Last week, the European People's Party (EPP) Group in the European Parliament held an event labelled "Hearing on Copyright". One of the speakers was Giuseppe Abbamonte, the Commission's director of media policy at the DG CONNECT, who said that we might all act illegally when we share articles, as reported by Chris Spillane from POLITICO.

Answering a question by Therese Comodine Cachia (MEP/EPP), member of the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) where she serves as the Parliament's rapporteur for copyright, Abbamonte said while sharing a mere hyperlink would not be a breach of copyright, an accompanying snippet from the linked article may be:

"If someone reproduces or shares [...] an abstract of a work which repeats the creative effort made by the author, then this person or entity [...] may be required to get authorization or may make a payment."

Abbamonte is said to have cited the European Court of Justice's (ECJ) case "Infopaq" (C-5/08) where it was ruled that the extraction of 11 words from a copyright protected work can already be a violation of the author's rights.

So what Abbamonte, a European Commission official, did was (1) pointing out that sharing a link over Twitter, Facebook etc. together with a short snippet consisting of 11 words or more would infringe on an author's copyright and (2) creating the impression that – as this has been the situation since the above mentioned ruling from 2009 – nothing will change with the new proposed publisher's right.

But this is not true. First, even sharing a snippet of 20, 30 or more words can be legal due to the right to quote. And second, the proposal of the publisher's right goes much further as it protects the investment made by the publisher. But the investment literally went into every single word of the article. Consequently, every single word of ot will be protected under the current proposal so that the sharing of even less than 11 words not only may but will infringe on the (proposed) publisher's right. Nowhere does it say in the proposal that private users in general or the sharing of a certain amount of words are exempt from this regulation.

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