Major Step Forward In Push For Publishers’ Right

Discussions are continuing at European level over proposals for the introduction of an exclusive right in copyright law for press publishers. Yesterday (Wednesday) the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament voted in favour of Article 11, albeit by a very narrow margin (13-12).  

This represents a major step forward  in achieving a European publishers’ right and comes after intense activity on the part of the NMA and European trade body News Media Europe.  Almost all of the Rapporteur Axel Voss’ compromise amendments were passed:  

  • snippets are included in the scope;
  • the right shall not prevent private, legitimate non-commercial uses;
  • the right does not extend to acts of hyperlinking;
  • the right does not  have retroactive effect;
  • journalists will receive an appropriate share of the additional revenues generated from the right;
  • term of protection is five years.

Recital 35 clarifies the terms and conditions of the “appropriate share of the new additional revenues” derived from the new right that journalists and photographers should receive: “The amount of the compensation attributed to the authors shall take into account the specific industry licensing standards regarding works incorporated in a press publication which are accepted as appropriate in the respective member State; and the compensation attributed to authors shall not affect the license terms agreed between the author and the press publisher for the use of the author’s article by the press publisher.”

The Committee voted to give itself a mandate to negotiate a final deal with the EU Council, but if a political group or a group of MEPs opposes this mandate (and Julia Reda, of the Pirate Party, has already announced that she will gather the signatures to contest it) then a vote in the Plenary will be required.  The vote would take place between 3 and 5 July, and the NMA will be writing to all UK MEPs ahead of the vote. 

If the mandate is finally approved trilogue negotiations will take place between the Parliament , the European Commission and the Council.  This process has no formal timeline, but could end as early as October.  The text will then be checked for legal coherence and translated into all EU working languages, which can take up to one month.  The final Parliament vote will be the culmination of the legislative process, and is likely to be in December/January.