Brussels
09 March 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon
Malta MEP rejects 20-year link right
A member of European Parliament for Malta, which also holds the presidency of the council, has called for the rejection of the publisher’s right contained in the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Single Market.

In a European Parliament report issued on 7 March, Therese Cachia said rights holders should be given a “presumption of representation of authors of literary works” and “the legal capacity to sue in their own name when defending the rights of such authors”, rather than a neighbouring right.

The EU’s proposed link right would allow publishers to secure licence fees from search engines and other intermediaries who use their content for up to 20 years from publication.

Cachia said: “Press publishers do face challenges in the digitalisation process of business and consumer habits. Digitalisation makes it easier for content found in press publications to be copied or taken.”

“Using digital technology to copy and make one’s own news and press content that is created by others is clearly disproportionately harmful to the financial interests of press publishers.”

She added: “For this purpose, press publishers are given the right to bring proceedings in their own name before tribunals against infringers of the rights held by the authors of the works contained in their press publication.”

Speaking in a statement on 8 March, European newspaper and magazine publishers’ associations, including the European Magazine Media Association and the European Publishers Council, disagreed with Cachia's assessment.

“[Cachia] has bypassed the fundamental issue that the commission addressed in their proposal that the law should recognise that publishers own the content they publish and make available”.

“She fails to address the problem, which her own group identified in their position paper, namely, the relationship between publishers and news aggregators and search engines.”

“A legal standing through a neighbouring right is more straightforward than her construct which incentivises litigation over negotiation,” they added.

The associations have called on members of European Parliament to “agree on the importance of a legal standing for press publishers, in the form of a publisher’s right”, because it would help bring “those who wish to use our content commercially to the table to negotiate with us for licenses so that the digital ecosystem can be sustainable and work for everyone: the content creators, the distributors and the consumers”.

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