EU Commission Vice-President Backs Publisher’s Right Proposals

EU Commission Vice-President Ansip has backed proposals for a publisher’s right to give publishers and authors the means to “negotiate better with digital platforms” and “help to maintain an independent and high-quality press in Europe.”

The proposals, advocated by European publishers through a coalition involving News Media Europe and the News Media Association, have received the backing of the UK Government after Jo Johnson, the Minister with responsibility for IP, indicated his support for measures that will improve the position of press publishers in the online value chain.

Delivering the Charles Clark Memorial Lecture at the London Book Fair, Vice-President Ansip said publishers needed “better leverage” to negotiate with the platforms who have “responsibilities to contribute back into that value chain.”

“The issue of fair payment – or share of revenue – has become a particular challenge when it comes to material accessed via digital platforms. But the new distribution or access channels are also about being transparent about how the material is used – and what is earned from using it.

“Our copyright reform gives publishers and authors the means to negotiate better with digital platforms. Rights holders will be in a stronger and fairer position to negotiate and be paid when a platform puts their work online. The legal bargaining position of press publishers needs similar improvement and clarity.

“We propose a special right to help them negotiate licences with online services for use of their material and to enforce their rights in the digital environment.

“This right already exists in EU law for film producers, record producers and broadcasters. To me, it is only fair that it should also apply to press publishers.

“Not only will it help them to fight piracy and unauthorised use of your material, it will also help to maintain an independent and high-quality press in Europe.

Vice-President Ansip added: “From a business perspective, I know that a primary concern is to make sure of recovering your investments in new talent and creativity.

“Publishers have to take many risks – starting with the courage of believing in the potential of an author – before making an initial investment. That willingness to take risks deserves to be rewarded.

“Authors also deserve reward and recognition for their efforts in artistic creativity. To me, this is a basic function of copyright.

“It is why we need fair and clear rules for everyone involved across the publishing value chain. This includes digital platforms. They have responsibilities to contribute back into that value chain. They should also be more active in fighting piracy and illegal material posted online.

“As publishers you need better leverage to improve your negotiations with them.”