Brussels has taken another step in its campaign against large digital companies. After GDPR and suggestions for more taxation on Google and Facebook, we now have greater protection for the copyright content they provide.
According to the European Commission, digital corporations are relying on Internet media for reading their articles by showing a short snippet of these texts. Readers are often happy with a couple of sentences and will not open the article.
The new directive was approved in June by the Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament. Under Article 11, publishing houses should be eligible for search engine fees, such as Google, or a Seznam. If the publishers did not agree on the license, they would not be able to show them in the search results below. The change would also apply to Twitter or Facebook social networks where their users share articles.
The second point is Article 13, which refers to sites like YouTube or Ulož.to. You should re-assume responsibility for the mediated content that is currently on users uploading photos or videos.
Subscribers have a site without ads.
Pavel Svoboda, chairman of the committee, said that if the proposal is finally adopted, publishers should be able to decide on the use of the entire journalistic work. “It is the right, whether it be applied or not, it will be their thing,” Svoboda said.
The committee’s decision, Axel Vosse’s parliamentary draftsman, is a step forward in seeking to adjust EU copyright rules to better respond to “the reality and business models of the 21st century.”
The directive has been criticized by the professional public, MEPs as well as citizens. More than 200 academics across the EU condemn an open article about online reporting as a threat to freedom and democracy.
“The proposal is trying to solve the burning problem – how to ensure the self-sufficiency of high-quality journalism – but uses non-serious ways to do it,” says Martin Husovec, who signed a letter from the Dutch University in Tilburg.
Restricting the spread of serious journalism, according to academics, could cause an even greater boom in “fake news”, that is, false or alarms that are propagated by propaganda websites. The essence of their operation is not license fees, but the widest possible extension of content. More than a hundred MEPs joined the academy with an open letter.
The publishers and their associations lobbied for the adoption of the directive. MEPs also sent out an open letter to Czech publishers. They wrote that technology companies are abusing the existing environment, and virtually becoming modern media houses that are aggressive for traditional publishers. “They live out of content they do not pay,” the MEPs said.
“Publishers in the Czech Republic appreciate the votes of deputies who supported their legitimate claims and thus contributed to the close approval of Articles 11 and 13,” Václav Mach, executive director of the Union of Publishers, welcomed the result of the vote.
The draftsman Voss agreed with that view. “The survival of journalism and the quality of journalistic work are at stake. A wild site where large platforms do not respect publisher copyrights can mean the end of thousands of journalist jobs,” Voss said.
Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the German publishing company Axel Springer, portrays snippets of articles, compares to the theft of butter or milk in the grocery store.
The Germans have experience with a similar law, and they are not very satisfied. In 2013, they introduced a new copyright law that imposes an obligation to pay for excerpts. Google responded surprisingly – stopped showing it if the publisher did not have the right to give it free of charge. Ultimately, most of them also did, and so the law was paid by smaller search engines that could not negotiate such favorable conditions.
In Spain, they decided to make an even tougher alternative. They have forbidden to license free of charge. But before that, Google did not bend and the Spanish version of the search engine completely abolished.
Legislators probably rely on the fact that when Google faces the whole of the EU, it will undertake new regulations.
Ulož.to or YouTube would take responsibility for the content that is available on their servers under a new regulation. They should set up an automatic filter that discovers the copyrighted content right when the file is uploaded. “It’s not possible to hide behind the claim that the content is uploaded by users when it’s the platform that makes money,” Voss said.
This could, however, affect small operators of similar sites who can not afford such a computer program. In addition, sites would take responsibility for something they need to check for not always perfect software. “Not even YouTube with $ 60 million worth of technology can do it well,” says Jan Louzek, vice president of Wikimedia CR. It is not possible to expect it from smaller societies.
The adoption of the new directive is lengthy and, according to the spokesman for the European Parliament, full of reversals. Last week, it was not clear what form of the directive will be voted on. In committee, MEPs had to deal with almost a thousand amendments, from which they gradually formed a compromise proposal.