European Commission considers new law to protect press diversity and quality journalism in Europe

The European Commission’s Vice-President Ansip announced the imminent consultation on a publisher’s right today, 14 March, which could ultimately lead to much-needed greater legal clarity in copyright for press publishers.

Publishers are not currently acknowledged in EU law as rightsholders. The expected change would put press publishers’ rights on par with other content producers such as broadcasters, film producers and phonogram producers with a related right that would afford publishers more licensing and negotiation opportunities.

Importantly, a new publisher’s right:

  • would have no impact on contractual relationships between publishers and journalists, nor on the existing provisions in law dealing with the transfer of rights in certain Member States. A new publisher’s right would seek only to protect the investment and the creative endeavour of putting together and the making available of the published edition, not the individual article;
  • would have no impact on readers’ ability to link and share articles by multiple share buttons
  • would not lead to a links tax
  • would not conflict with any legal exceptions to copyright including for teaching, illustration, research and private use

EPC Executive Director Angela Mills Wade said: “It is high time that press publishers were treated in law the same as all other content producers. In this digital age, licensing is complex, particularly in the context of 24/7 content production and distribution over multiple platforms. 

“We welcome the European Commission’s support for an independent, free press in Europe and for understanding our urgent need for new, digital-appropriate legal rights in line with other content producers. A professional press publisher is subject to significant costs for the employment of, and legal protection of, highly-skilled journalists; for the financing, production and management of print and online editions, and for being legally answerable for the accuracy and quality of their content. A new publisher’s right would go some way to protecting that investment and supporting innovation in the sector.”

Note to Editors:  National laws have been introduced in Germany and Spain to address specific issues regarding the exploitation of publishers' content by third parties. Any European solution for a publisher's right should be applied without prejudice to such national laws, and must be forward looking, neutral, sufficiently broad and flexible to be future proof for the years to come.  It must set an overall high standard of protection of freedom of the press, by recognising that a press publication is a creative endeavour and without this incentive to invest, it would not exist.

Access the Frequently Asked Questions here.