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07 December 2017

Government ‘Supportive’ of Publisher’s Right Proposal

The Government has indicated that it is “supportive” of proposals for a publisher’s right which is designed to help publishers protect their investment in journalism in the online environment. 

In October, Lord Black, chair of the News Media Association’s legal, policy and regulatory affairs Committee, wrote to Jo Johnson, the Minister with responsibility for IP, explaining why the NMA supports the publisher’s right.  

A helpful response has now been received from the Minister in which he acknowledges that the measure could help to improve the position of press publishers in the online value chain.  

In his response to Lord Black, the Minister says: “I understand the importance of a free and sustainable press, and the pressures the industry has been under as a result of the emergence of digital technologies and business models.  It is for these reasons that the Government is supportive of measures that will improve the position of press publishers in the online value chain.” 

Mr Johnson says that in his view the publisher’s right could help to achieve this outcome. 

Article 11 of the Proposal for a Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market introduces a “publisher’s right” (or “neighbouring right”) which would give protection to the published edition.  It will cover the Reproduction right, the Right of communication and making available to the public and the Distribution right.  

The establishment and maintenance of news websites offering quality journalism requires significant investment, but increasingly ad revenues are insufficient to meet these costs, the NMA said.  To remain competitive and independently financed, Europe’s publishers need to be able to compete on all platforms. 

Publishers believe that the right set out in Article 11 could strengthen their position because it covers the exploitation of small excerpts of press products systematically and on a large scale, in a way which substitutes the original publication. The introduction of clear rights for press publishers would clarify the circumstances in which licences are needed and help them to enforce their rights. 

The NMA has been working with News Media Europe’s Copyright Task Force to prepare a paper addressing the question of how the publisher’s right will work in practice. The NMA aims to set up meetings with the UK MEPS who sit on the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee in advance of their vote on the Directive in March next year.