Karikatuur van Franse censoren

104 Members of Parliament agree: It’s time to dump the #LinkTax

In an incredible show of political support for a more reasonable copyright law, today 104 members of the European Parliament sent a letter to Rapporteur Voss asking him to delete the harmful press publishers right—Article 11. The signatories include MEPs from across the political spectrum. Signatories of the letter state that:

While we support efforts to ensure a level playing field between online platforms and businesses through the enforcement of competition and consumer rules, we believe that the introduction of a new European neighbouring right will have a nocent and injurious effect on citizens’ access to quality news and information.

Ever since the Commission released its original proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, we’ve been arguing that introducing a new ancillary right for press publishers is a terrible idea. We’ve advocated that the press publishers right should be removed from the proposed directive. Not only is the mechanism ill-suited to address the challenges in supporting quality journalism, it would have the effect of decreasing competition and innovation in the delivery of news, limit access to information, and create widespread negative repercussions for related stakeholders.

As already shown by example in Germany and Spain, a press publishers right will be completely ineffective in promoting quality journalism or getting reporters and authors paid, and it will have massive negative repercussions on access to information for everyone online.

We are not alone. A variety of groups have long warned about the dangers of adopting the press publishers right, including 169 academics, 25 European research centres, 145 civil society organisations, 9 news agencies, and publishers themselves.

As we’ve said, Article 11 is one of the few areas where a real compromise has already been identified: that is, the approach presented by former Rapporteur MEP Comodini that would rely on a presumption that publishers are the rights holders, thus making it easier for these entities “to conclude licences and to seek application of the measures, procedures and remedies.” There is even research solicited by the Parliament itself that recommended exactly that. It seems this reasonable approach has not been seriously considered since Voss took over the copyright reform docket.

The negotiating mandate agreed upon by the Council a few weeks ago does nothing to fix the worst parts of Article 11. The Member States have maintained the introduction of a new ancillary copyright for press publishers. In a small improvement of the Commission’s proposal the new right would now last for a maximum of 2 years and would not apply retroactively.

It’s encouraging to see so many MEPs stand up to say “enough is enough.” It’s time to delete Article 11 once and for all. Contact your MEP using Change Copyright or Save The Link. Tell them to follow the lead of their colleagues and dump the press publishers right!

A satire on the art business in which art experts and dealers who assess paintings are depicted as donkeys. After the drawing by Trémolières in the Hessisches Landes Museum in Darmstadt (cropped).
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