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28 May 2020

NMA Calls For Urgent Implementation Of Publisher’s Right

Implementing the Publisher’s Right into UK law would help ensure the long-term sustainability of news media and protect the future of journalism as the sector faces up to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the News Media Association has said.  

In a letter to Amanda Solloway MP, the Minister for Intellectual Property, the NMA said it welcomed the steps taken to help combat the immediate financial repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic.  

But, it added, further measures were necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the newspaper sector and address the “huge imbalance in bargaining power between the news media and tech companies, which free-ride on their valuable content.”  

The Publisher’s Right, which would provide enhanced commercial opportunities and strengthen the position of publishers, should be implemented into UK law as matter of urgency along with competition law “safe harbour” provisions to facilitate discussions over licensing and fees , the NMA said.   

“The Publisher’s Right could usefully be combined with some form of compulsory, statute-backed terms of business code, ensuring platforms agree a payment for content,” the NMA said.  

“You will be aware that in Australia the Government has recognised that the Coronavirus pandemic has led to a sharp decline in advertising revenues, and it has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to write a mandatory code to address imbalances in bargaining power between the platforms and the media. 

“The tech giants will be required to share their revenues with news media companies, who produce the content on the back of which they build rich data sets about their users and sell advertising opportunities.” 

The Publisher’s Right is contained within the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market which was passed in April 2019 and has not yet been implemented into UK law. 

France has been the first country to transpose the measure into its domestic law and the French Competition Authority has now ordered Google to negotiate with publishers to pay for the news content shown in search results, pending a decision on the merits of the case.