At today’s debut meeting of the European Parliament’s copyright working group, digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger expressed his wish for an EU-wide ancillary copyright law for press publishers, citing it as an example area of copyright where action was required at an EU level.

Julia Reda, Pirate Party MEP and Greens/EFA representative in the working group, critisised the initiative: “By pursuing an EU-wide ancillary copyright law for press publishers, Oettinger is ignoring the recent spectacular failure of similar laws in Germany and Spain. They did not fail because they were implemented at the wrong level, but because the idea itself is wrong-headed.”

In Germany, press publishers ended up granting Google a special permit to use their content free of charge, thus providing a market advantage to the exact company they had previously cited as the main target of the law. In Spain, Google closed down their News service entirely, to which the Spanish association of publishers reacted by demanding the government do something against the closure of the supposedly infringing service.

Oettinger must tear down digital barriers, not erect new ones!
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“These developments prove: It is the publishers themselves who profit from the aggregation and linking of news content. Legislative restrictions on free linking do not lead to better compensation for journalism, but to increased barriers to access for the public and losses for publishers and authors. The ancillary copyright law is a success story for no-one but copyright lawyers”, Reda said.

“After two attempts and two failures, this idea must finally be laid to rest. To modernise copyright and make the digital single market a reality, Oettinger must tear down digital barriers, not erect new ones.”

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