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13 December 2018

Veteran War Correspondent Explains How Publisher’s Right Will Help Protect Journalism

In a crunch week for the publisher’s right, veteran war correspondent Sammy Ketz has explained how the measure will help protect journalism and vital reporting from war zones across the globe.

In an article published this week, the AFP correspondent said that the tech giants had mounted a lobbying campaign to try and water down the publisher’s right by removing references to "short extracts," "factuals" or "snippets" from the text.

In September, MEPs voted decisively in favour of the publisher's right with 438 voting in favour of amendments tabled by Axel Voss MEP. There were 226 against and 39 abstentions. Now, EU talks on the final text of the draft law - Article 11 of the Copyright Directive -  are nearing conclusion with a Coreper meeting yesterday and Trilogue today. 

As part of their lobbying against the proposals, the tech giants have also been trying to get press agencies and specialist media removed from the scope of the publisher's right, as well as reducing the protection period.

In his article, Mr Ketz said: “Can one envisage for even a second no payment for a factual story on Brexit or for a tragedy about refugees lost at sea off Greece on the pretext they are ‘short extracts’? Think of the investigative work that goes into publishing the headline ‘Suicide attack in Baghdad Shiite quarter: 32 dead, say police, hospitals’. 

“To pen this simple line, the journalist has questioned the police to determine what kind of explosion took place, called the hospitals to establish a casualty toll, visited the scene of the blast for a description and to interview witnesses.

“Occasionally he may risk his life because it is not unusual for a secondary attack to happen at the same place as the first. This was the case in Kabul recently when nine journalists and photographers lost their lives, including AFP’s Shah Marai.”

“This is the daily work of all journalists, photographers, videographers and it’s been mine too for years in Baghdad, Tehran, Cairo, Damascus, Beirut. If the picking up of reports from publishers and agencies avoids neighboring rights because they are short extracts, the directive will be empty of substance.

“That will mean that the fundamental work of our trade, the research and writing of proven facts, has no value. And all the investments publishers and press agencies make to bring news to the public will be a complete waste.  It will also mean that facts do not make history. In the end the field will be left to those who peddle fake news.

“Excluding short extracts from neighboring rights will lead publishers and news agencies to employ fewer journalists, to shut their bureaus in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea…  Then what will be the sources of information? State media? The disinformation campaigns run by authoritarian regimes?”

Organisations such as the News Media Association and News Media Europe, representing hundreds of news media titles across Europe, have been calling for a publisher’s right to be introduced to help publishers protect their investment in news.