Rogue members try to hijack LIBE Committee

Am 14. Juni 2017 - 18:29 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.

The initial draft opinion was authored by LIBE Committee's rapporteur Michał Boni (EPP, Poland). The LIBE Committee is responsible for the protection of civil liberties as well as human rights and particularly deals with data protection issues. Thus it is not surprising that it was agreed on to focus solely on article 13 and recitals 38, 39 which deal with upload filtering by internet service providers – a topic that clearly falls into the sphere of the LIBE Committee.

But some MEPs seem to totally ignore this agreement and stab their chair in the back (with some being in the same group as Boni). They tabled a couple of amendments to the draft opinion that suddenly address the question of a new publishers' right (see article 11 and recitals 31–35). And to make matters worse, these MEPs want to further extend the absurdity of this right.

For example, MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) wants to add wording saying that news aggregators and providers of search engines "have increasingly developed their activities and are making profit from the content of press publishers. These profits are not shared fairly with the creators and publishers." This completely ignores the vast numbers of viewers that are guided to the publishers' websites by these service providers who rely on this symbiosis. Additionally, Voss wants to expand the scope of the publishers' right to cover analogue uses and aims to clarify that the right "should also apply where the content is automatically generated by, for example, news aggregators."

Further amendments come from MEPs Gérard Deprez (ALDE, Belgium), Louis Michel (ALDE, Belgium) and Jean-Marie Cavada (ALDE, France). They also want the publishers' right to get applied to analogue uses and additionally strive for the deletion of the exemption concerning periodical academic/scientific publications. On top of that, Deprez and Michel think that a protection term of 20 years is too short and thus prefer a ridiculous long term of 50 years.

All these issues have nothing to do with the protection of human rights or civil liberties which makes the LIBE Committee the wrong forum to proclaim them. The proposed publishers' right rather threatens the freedom of information. But the four MEPs have obviously surprised their colleagues with their rogue move as MEP Cornelia Ernst (GUE-NGL, Germany) is the only one that fights against them by demanding the complete deletion of article 11.

That is why we need everybody to reach out to their representatives in the LIBE Committee not only to tell them how terrible the amendments of Voss et al. are but also how absurd the whole idea of a publishers' right is. You can find a list of members with links to their profiles with contact information right here.

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