Latest News

13 July 2017

MEPs Back Publisher’s Right Proposal

Members of some significant European Parliamentary committees have given their backing to proposals designed to address the challenges faced by publishers striving to finance an independent press and professional journalism in the face of widespread theft of their digital content. These have been the subject of considerable lobbying efforts by news media sector organisations.

On Tuesday, the European Parliament’s Culture (CULT) and Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committees voted in favour of the proposal for a publisher’s right as part of a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. 

The publisher's right, which is supported by publisher organisations including the News Media Association, News Media Europe, and the European Publishers Council would recognise publishers across Europe as rightholders in EU copyright law alongside other neighbouring rightholders in the media and creative industries. 

A publisher’s right could strengthen publishers’ negotiating position with digital platforms and news aggregators which exploit small excerpts of press products systematically and on a large scale.   It would provide legal certainty for the benefit of press publishers large and small, making it clear that their content cannot be copied or reused for commercial benefit without their permission.

By supporting the press publisher’s right provision, the committees have acknowledged the importance of a sustainable, free and independent press in Europe and the need for publishers to be able to seek fair remuneration for the commercial use of their content by internet platforms.

The next relevant vote is expected to take place on 25 September in the Civil Liberties (LIBE) committee.  The Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee will vote in October.   NME has reemphasised to these other committees that a neighbouring right for press publishers is important for the sustainability of the news media sector.

Catherine Courtney, legal adviser at the NMA, said: "The NMA welcomes the positive direction of travel on the publisher’s right in the European Parliament.  By protecting the investment of the producer such a right would cover the exploitation by digital platforms and news aggregators of excerpts of press products, which is currently being carried on systematically and on a large scale.  Strengthening the position of press publishers will help to safeguard quality journalism in contradistinction to fake news."

Wout van Wijk, NME executive director, said: “A neighbouring right for press publishers will ensure that European citizens continue to have access to a free, diverse and financially independent quality press.”

EPC executive director Angela Mills Wade said: “The EPC welcomes the recognition by MEPs that the neighbouring right for press publishers would help create a fairer digital eco-system whereby consumers can access and enjoy our content 24/7 on multiple platforms and where tech companies and other businesses can use and distribute our content with permission and on mutually beneficially terms. 

“The neighbouring right is crucial: in an era of fake news, publishers need to be economically viable to perform their essential role in society, providing eye-witness accounts, unearthing the truth, calling authorities to account and able to pay for quality investigative journalism.”

The full Parliament will be called upon to adopt the proposal by the end of the year, following which discussions will commence with the Council of Europe.  The issue is a priority for the NMA and has been raised at meetings with Ministers and officials.  A further meeting with the IPO is imminent.