Kategorie Europe

Press release by OpenMedia regarding Save the Link  Am 5. Mai 2015 - 22:56 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Publikationsdatum 06.05.2015 ~ Art des Materials: Akteure: Schlagworte: Soziales System: Lizenz: 

An international network of organizations launches campaign to safeguard the Right To Link


Legislators in European Parliament and Commission are considering updates to copyright proposals that would censor links for Internet users


May 6, 2015 –A large network of over 50 organizations from 21 countries is coming together to “Save The Link”. Today, the network is launching a multilingual international campaign aimed at pushing back against efforts by powerful media conglomerates to censor links and stifle free expression on the Internet. One of the proposals being advanced could make users personally liable for the content of websites they link to online. Weiter

2015 Intellectual Property and Economic Growth Index was published  Am 31. März 2015 - 20:58 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Publikationsdatum 31.03.2015 ~ Art des Materials: Akteure: Schlagworte: Soziales System: Lizenz: 

Oettinger wants EU-wide ancillary copyright for press publishers  Am 31. März 2015 - 20:15 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Publikationsdatum 31.03.2015 ~ Art des Materials: Akteure: Schlagworte: Soziales System: Lizenz: 

Günther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, had a talk with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (F.A.Z.) about his approach on reforming European copyright. Among numerous other things, Oettinger also commented on an ancillary copyright for press publishers in the EU.


EP Working Group should respect the full range of views  Am 26. März 2015 - 10:27 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Publikationsdatum 26.03.2015 ~ Art des Materials: Akteure: Schlagworte: Soziales System: Lizenz: 

Last week, several signatories sent an open letter to the coordinator of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright Reform at the European Parliament Jean-Marie Cavada. It calls for an inclusion of the civil society in the process to ensure a balanced representation of views.


Now is the time to fix copyright!  Am 17. Februar 2015 - 19:19 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Publikationsdatum 17.02.2015 ~ Art des Materials: Akteure: Schlagworte: Soziales System: Lizenz: 

In her article published on The Digital Post, Caroline de Cock, Coordinator of the Copyright4Creativity (C4C) Coalition, claims that now is the time to fix European copyright law. And she is right.


On our own account: IGEL joins C4C  Am 28. Januar 2015 - 22:28 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Publikationsdatum 28.01.2015 ~ Art des Materials: Akteure: Schlagworte: Soziales System: Lizenz: 

We are very excited to announce that IGEL is now a proud member of Copyright for Creativity (C4C). We are very happy to team up with this pan-European coalition of NGOs like European Digital Rights (EDRi) or the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and associations like the European Bureau of Library, Information, and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) working all together to promote a responsible and sustainable European copyright for the digital age. It is our aim to prevent an ancillary copyright law for press publishers on a European level which we hope to work towards by partnering with this multi-stakeholder network.

Sascha Lobo: "Such a nonsense law"   Am 19. Juni 2018 - 12:03 Uhr von Redaktion

With the ancillary copyright, some publishers want to get a digital money printing machine from politicians – soon also at the EU level. How did we come to this?

If this country should one day fall into the hands of populists and extremists, a decisive reason for this will be the impression of a chummy relationship between the government and the media. Trump has shown how powerful this narrative is: They’re in cahoots together! – The assumption is that politicians and the media connive and conspire at the expense of the people. Such mistrust has already led to massive damage to democracy in Germany. The chummy relationship between politics and the media is in most cases only an assumption – but sometimes it does exist. For instance, right now.

This is the story of the Chancellor, who works for a law that comes directly from the media group of her friend Friede Springer. It is the story of Axel Springer CEO Matthias Döpfner, who so wants to meddle in big politics – and manages to do this in a catastrophic fashion. It is the story of how the German CDU and CSU Members in the European Parliament made themselves the political arm of Axel Springer. Or the bottleneck, depending on your perspective.

Massive pressure on MEPs

On 20 June 2018 a vote will be held in the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on the revision of copyright law. This is essentially about two points. On the one hand it’s about upload filters, that is: censorship machines. In a dangerous and intransparent way, those prevent the uploading of certain content on social networks. The BBC reports that even the meme culture of the Internet could be banned. On the other hand, it concerns a European ancillary copyright for press publishers, in short: AC.

A narrow majority for the ancillary copyright appears to be foreseeable. On the one hand of this vote are the elected members of the European Parliament. On the other side is basically the Axel Springer publishing house. It sounds absurd, but it's almost the same.

Many German CDU and CSU Members of the European Parliament have publicly put other EU parliamentarians under massive pressure to vote for Springer's ancillary copyright, according to EU Insider. Due to the compliance of the German Union Parties, the legislation has become the plaything of Axel Springer across Europe. According to the populist type, critics are reviled as Google lobbyists. As if there were only black and white, and anyone who does not go with Springer would have to be partisans of Google.

It gets even harder. The German coalition agreement states: "We reject a commitment of platforms for the use of upload filters [...] as disproportionate." Nevertheless, CDU/CSU will probably vote for upload filters. Why? If you speak with MEPs, they offer a disturbing explanation: France has been allegedly pro upload filters, but against to ancillary copyright. Then they swapped, Germany said yes to censorship machines, France agreed to AC. Germany breaks the coalition agreement to introduce an “Axel Springer Law” in the EU.

A law as a money printing machine

The ancillary copyright is a lawless nonsense law. It should make the display of search results of publishers liable for a fee. Sounds like an anti-Google law, but it's much bigger, because it could make internet links payable. Critics therefore call the AC "link tax", to pay however to private publishers.

It would probably also affect users of social media who link to press articles. This is difficult to say precisely because it’s hard to predict the precise effect of a nonsensical law and of the following court rulings. Moreover, several variants of the legislation are being debated in the European Parliament up until the very last minute.

That's also the reason why Germany was against it in previous votes: some Axel Springer MEPs (CDU/CSU) thought the version was too lax. In their opinion, Google and co. should not only pay for the display of search results – but also be obliged to list the publisher's content. For Axel Springer, the politicians should decide on a legally guaranteed business model which is not based on market success. Then the German government could actually give the publisher a money printing machine. In a strange way, that would be fairer.

The shattering fear of politics

There is a blueprint for this problematic mixture of media and political power. Since 2009, a group of German publishers under the leadership of Axel Springer has been lobbying for a German ancillary copyright with the help of numerous blatant lies. They found a supporter in Angela Merkel In 2011, who told a newspaper publisher congress that the federal government was already working on a law.

Although at that time a tremendously broad, political and social front was fighting against the law. It does not happen often that BDI, Linkspartei, Chaos Computer Club, Bitkom, the Greens, the trade association and the liberal liberals of the FDP as well as most scientists in the field of copyright pull together. Politics under fear of the "Bild" newspaper – this is not new, but nevertheless shocking.

Springer's parallel reality

The idea for the German ancillary copyright was created when German publishers noticed that advertisers prefer to spend their advertising money on Google rather than on newspapers. The economic pressure on the publishers was and is considerable, although partly through their own negligence. But nobody likes to admit that. So, under Springer's leadership, a bizarre narrative was developed: a parallel reality.

In this parallel reality the reason behind Google's success becomes clear: the great content of German publishers. This is why AC payments had to be anchored down in a legislation, despite the logic, despite the current law, despite the digital reality that produced the old system. Publishers should not evolve, despite the digital transformation but, instead should once again receive a lot of advertising revenues. Just from Google. That was the 2013 plan from Springer based on Merkel's clemency.

How much has Google paid?

To claim that the German ancillary copyright law did not work is malicious gossip. In five years of AC, the total amount paid by Google to German publishers amounts to zero euros. That's not much for a law that should make Google pay.

Instead, the responsible collecting society, VG Media has tried to collect money from small start-ups. They’ve tried. This has amounted to nothing. In 2017, VG Media took in 30,000 EUR from the AC on behalf of the press publishers. Minus expenses of 2,250,099 EUR for law enforcement. The ancillary copyright was able to generate 75 EUR in legal costs for every single euro of income in 2017. Is that already a world record?

Online users should also pay

In a normal world, the law would be recognized as nonsense, to put it mildly. In the parallel reality of Axel Springer one is forced to see it differently. CEO Döpfner explains this debacle as follows: "In Germany it did not work because Germany is too small as a country, as a market." This reasoning is so bizarrely wrong that not even the opposite is true. It’s like stating that the moon is not made of cheese because it is too far away from the earth.

Nevertheless, Axel Springer wants to extend this "success model" to the whole of Europe and has managed, in addition to Merkel, to sway relevant EU politicians to their imagined parallel reality. This includes, for example, former Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger, a glowing opponent of facts and ethics and a fierce supporter of the AC

In October 2016, he called on publishers to make sure that the Axel-Springer law would be well received. It worked out well for the printed press but stubborn online publishers were critical in their reporting. The leaders of the publishers had to change that in their hired team of journalists. But of course not through "censorship' but rather through "convincing people", according to Oettinger. One has to fight for it, just like Döpfner.

A gift to populists and extremists

One has to realize this: The lobbied law of Axel Springer is so enthusiastically adopted by leading EU politicians that it calls the assembled German press with economic interest to interfere with editorial freedom. Thereby abandoning the critical attitude that actually makes the press the "Fourth Power of Democracy". There is hardly a better symbol for the chummy relationship between politics and media. By the way, this comes against the multiple, vocal, explicit warnings of almost the entire copyright scientific community in Europe. Against every scientific opinion.

The whole unfolding of the AC debate reads like a political thriller poorly conceived by the AfD, with no other goal than discrediting of politics and the media at the same time. And yet, this farce is threatening to become a reality, a pattern of lousy power hogging by media houses and government parties.

In times when people's distrust in politics and the media is at a peak, it's extremely dangerous. Those are times when authoritarian political vultures lurk to exploit exactly this type of cronyism. The ancillary copyright in conjunction with the censorship machines of the upload filter will be introduced via Axel Springer in the EU – populists and extremists couldn’t wish for a nicer gift from Merkel’s government.

– This article was first published in German on SPIEGEL Online and we translated and published it with permission of the author Sascha Lobo –

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Take a minute to #SaveYourInternet   Am 12. Juni 2018 - 17:23 Uhr von Tom Hirche

In eight days, the Legal Affairs Committee will finally vote on its compromise amendment for the upcoming copyright directive. This will be followed by the whole plenum of the European Parliament voting on a common position. Your and everybody else's internet freedom is at stake. Act now, get in touch with your MEP and #SaveYourInternet.

You can do this easily and in no time by using this email tool. Article 13 of the Commission's proposal will impose a censorship mechanism when adopted by forcing internet companies to install content filters. The EU Member States have already decided to embrace the harmful proposals of the Commission. Our only hope is to convince the MEPs to vote in the interest of us, the users, who want to live in a Europe where information can freely travel and where innovation is not blocked by backward-looking regulations.

For more information, go to saveyourinternet.eu


German government is intentionally stalling evaluation process to prevent evidence against publishers' right   Am 11. Juni 2018 - 17:03 Uhr von Tom Hirche

It was on 1 August 2013 when the ancillary copyright for press publishers became effective in Germany. Nearly five years have passed by since then with the promised evaluation of one of the worst laws of the recent past still yet to come. But the German government is intentionally stalling the process.

The opposition in the German parliament has officially requested information on the status of the evaluation twelve times so far, as Patrick Beuth notes in his article for the German online news website Spiegel Online, but was put off every time. More practical experience was needed and the outcome of the different lawsuits related to the new right should be awaited first, they were told. Until then, the developments in this matter would be carefully watched. Once enough information has been gathered the German government would initiate the evaluation process. But for now, a final verdict was impossible to make.

This last statement is wrong in two different aspects. First, there have been four years of intense discussions before the publishers' right was even adopted. There is us and a number of other websites that constantly write about the effects of this right in Germany. And there is scientific research that has dealt with the German regulation, like the independent study that was requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) or the study that the European Commission tried to hide but that was ultimately disclosed thanks to MEP Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, Germany). All facts are on the table und so far there is almost unanimous agreement that the ancillary copyright for press publishers has failed and is harmful in many ways.

Second, the German government is not even required to come to a final verdict even though it tries to create this impression. All it actually has to do is put together the available information on the effects of the publishers' right. This could and should have already been done.

The reason for the German government's hesitation is as simple as obvious: it is trying to buy time. A preliminary verdict would without doubt come to the same result as all the studies and comments before. But coming straight from the German government, this would be a strong (if not the strongest) evidence against the introduction of a publishers' right on EU level. Including this evidence into the discussions within and between the EU institutions will presumably lead to a sudden end of the introduction plans.

However, the German government must be aware of this. Therefore, it comes with no surprise that it will not take any risks in pushing for an EU-wide publishers' right on behalf of a handful of influential German publishers. The evaluation will probably never come. But if it does, it will already be too late.

Over 100 MEPs sign an open letter against introduction of link tax   Am 7. Juni 2018 - 13:27 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Today, a total of 104 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the political groups published an open letter addressing MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) who is the lead Rapporteur on the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market for the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee.

Under the lead of MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE, Netherlands), the undersigned MEPs are "extremely worried about the impact that the introduction of a new neighbouring right for press publishers will have" as they "believe that the introduction of a new European neighbouring right will have a nocent and injurious effect on citizens’ access to quality news and information."

They therefore urge Voss to "listen to the voices of consumer groups, small publishers, civil society and the business community who are overwhelmingly opposed to the introduction" of a link tax. It is sad to see that this request is necessary but the fact that these voices have been largely ignored by the decision makers shows that it really is.

Voss also gets reminded not only of the recent open letter from by now over 200 European copyright legal and academic experts who had shut down the proposed new publishers' right but also of the independent, non-partisan academic study conducted by the European Parliament's JURI Committee which also suggested to lay the plans for a publishers' right to rest.

The MEPs finally urge Axel Voss to delete Article 11, to delete the proposed press publishers' right and instead to "find an alternative, less invasive, and more proportionate solution to support quality journalism and freedom of the press in the digital age."

This is a strong signal to all the other MEPs that have not been this deeply involved in the discussions so far. It is also refreshing to see that two MEPs of the EPP group have decided to sign the letter despite Axel Voss's imposed so-called joint opinion. May more MEPs follow their lead and put an end to this destructive proposal.

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Member States agree on implementation of link tax   Am 29. Mai 2018 - 12:34 Uhr von Tom Hirche

After months of discussions, the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Council (COREPER) has agreed its common position on the text for the upcoming Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. This position will serve as a negotiating mandate for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Despite all warnings, this mandate also allows for the introduction of an ancillary copyright for press publishers aka the link tax.

Compared to the proposal of the European Commission, the Member States have slightly mitigated the text making it very similar to the German regulation.

The link tax shall only be available to press publishers established in the EU "for the online use of their press publications by information society service providers." This limitation corresponds with JURI rapporteur MEP Axel Voss's so far unofficial proposal and suffers from the same problem: without further carve-outs every ISP will be affected, even non-profit platforms like Wikipedia.

Although the majority of the Member States was willing to introduce the link tax, they have been deeply divided on how to further limit it. They seem to have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to settle their dispute in the near future which would explain the agreed upon compromise:

The [press publisher's right] shall not apply in respect of uses of insubstantial parts of a press publication. Member States shall be free to determine the insubstantial nature of parts of press publications taking into account whether these parts are the expression of the intellectual creation of their authors, or whether these parts are individual words or very short excerpts, or both criteria.

When introducing this right on a national level a few years ago, the German government had opted for the second criterion. Due to a lack of clarification, it is highly unclear what falls under this exception up to this day. Taking into account the originality of a part of a press publication on the other side might not help the publishers at all because they would still have to prove this point in court in each and every case. A legal presumption of representation would have been the better solution.

Leaving the decision of what insubstantial parts are to each Member State will most certainly lead to many different and thus unharmonised national implementations. The consequence will be that depending on the location within the EU, users' access to online press publications will be different. Service providers might even decide to not offer their service anymore in certain member states in order to avoid paying fees (like it has been done with Google News in Spain).

In any case, the freedom of information and the internet itself is under threat. The proposed reduction of the protection term from 20 years to 1 year as well as the deletion of any retroactive effect will not change this fact. The whole idea of giving publishers the legal right to demand a fee when others bring them readers (= money) by only linking to their publications is absurd and lacks the necessary justification.

Voss's changes can not cure the rotten root   Am 17. Mai 2018 - 17:03 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The rapporteur of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament, MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) has updated his draft compromise amendment for Article 11, the ancillary copyright for press publishers, pushing for a vote next month. Although the proposed text is now less extreme compared to the first version from seven weeks ago, it fails to tackle the real problem.

Small changes

A few weeks ago, several open letters all addressing Article 11 and warning of its consequences were published (see here, here and here). It can be seen as a success by all critics that Axel Voss apparently responded by making a few modifications to his initial draft compromise amendment. His second version (docx) was shortly followed by a third version (docx).

Voss now proposes to reduce the protection term from 20 years to 5 years. Also, the link between "fake news" and the need for an ancillary copyright for press publishers was deleted from recital 31 as well as the notion that the press publishers are given an inalienable right; instead it was added that they "may obtain fair and proportionate remuneration". Furthermore, it is now clarified that the new right shall not extend to hyperlinks in general and the new right shall not be applied retroactively.

Some of the changes only appear to be good at first glance. A 5 year protection term is still too long considering that the value of a press article drops heavily just hours after its publication. It also remains unclear if the exception for hyperlinks applies to the display of snippets to the linked article – probably not due to a new sentence that was added and according to which the "listing in a search engine should not be considered as fair and proportionate remuneration", meaning that press publishers are still supposed to get money for this act of use. A requirement for a certain length or originality of the snippet is still missing.

The most significant change is that press publishers shall only be able to demand a remuneration "for the digital use of their press publications by information society service providers." This considerably limits the scope of the new right by excluding private individuals and libraries for example. However, the scope is still enormously wide. Although the proposal contains no definition of this term, it is obvious that it applies for any kind of ISP. Without further carve-outs, Wikipedia would be affected as well as any other non-profit host provider or platform. Hence, although the proposal reminds more and more of the German ancillary copyright for press publishers Voss's proposals are still far broader. 

Core problem remains

However, all these changes cannot cover up the fact that the introduction of an ancillary copyright for press publishers is still and will always be a terrible idea – no matter what changes will be made in the future. Its root is rotten which has already been demonstrated in Germany and Spain. Such a right will not help the publishers with their problems but will harm them, innovative internet service providers as well as the freedom of information. Voss still completely ignores the option to let go of the ancillary copyright in total and to give the press publishers a legal presumption instead that would help them fight (online) copyright infringements easier.

Open letter: "The EU Copyright Directive is failing" and should be stopped   Am 26. April 2018 - 17:39 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Another open letter has been sent to the members of the European Parliament, this time by academics from 25 leading intellectual property research centres in Europe. They request them to stop the legislation process altogether if it continues to progress in the form proposed by the recent drafts of the Bulgarian Presidency and JURI rapporteur Voss.

The signees point out the scientific consensus

  • that the proposed exception for text-and-data-mining in Art. 3 will not achieve its goal to stimulate innovation and research if restricted to certain organisations,
  • that the proposals for a new publishers’ right under Art. 11 will favour incumbent press publishing interests rather than innovative quality journalism,
  • and that the proposals for Art. 13 threaten the user participation benefits of the eCommerce Directive (2000/31/EC) which shared the responsibility for enforcement between rightholders and service providers.

While the draft report by former MEP and rapporteur Therese Comodini Cachia is praised as "balanced" and "the most workable basis", the compromise amendments proposed by the new rapporteur MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) only pay lip service to authors' interest but respond in effect to the agenda of powerful corporate interests. The same goes for the drafts emerging from the Bulgarian Council presidency. These proposals "will not serve the public interest."

The full text of the open letter can be downloaded here.

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Nearly 170 academics warn against ancillary copyright for press publishers   Am 25. April 2018 - 12:05 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Another open letter calling for the deletion of Art. 11 of the proposed DSM directive has been sent out to the members of the European Parliament today. It was signed by not less than 169 scholars (and counting) from all over Europe of whom 100 are full professors. Weiter

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Open letter: 59 organisations encourage Axel Voss to delete ancillary copyright from the DSM directive   Am 19. April 2018 - 11:29 Uhr von Tom Hirche

In a couple of weeks, the Legal Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) will release its opinion on the EU Commission’s proposal for a new copyright directive. The responsible rapporteur MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) is currently making his final conversations with the shadow rapporteurs of the other political groups. For this very reason, together with Communia and OpenMedia/Safe-the-Link, we have sent out an open letter that was co-signed by 56 further organisations. Weiter

Small publishers raise their voices against link tax   Am 4. Januar 2018 - 14:41 Uhr von Tom Hirche

A few weeks ago, several press agencies have joined the large publishing houses in their ongoing lobbying for a new neighbouring right. Carlos Astiz, Chairman of the European Innovative Media Publishers, was disappointed by this endorsement and stood once again to take a stance for the smaller publishers, content creators and journalists. Weiter

EU Commission tried to hide a study that debunks the publisher's right as ineffective   Am 3. Januar 2018 - 13:26 Uhr von Tom Hirche

What once seemed to be a single incident turned out to be a habit: Once again it has been revealed that the EU Commission tried to hide the results of a self-requested copyright-related study because the results were not suitable. This time the study is all about "Online News Aggregation and Neighbouring Rights for News Publishers". Weiter

Press agencies join the collective moaning and demand new publisher's right   Am 14. Dezember 2017 - 14:25 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Some of Europe's largest press agencies urge the EU institutions to introduce the proposed ancillary copyright for publishers plus they also want to belong to the beneficiaries. Among those agencies are the German DPA, the French AFP as well as the Spanish EFE. Weiter

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JURI members try to water down results of their own requested study   Am 8. Dezember 2017 - 16:21 Uhr von Tom Hirche

A couple of months ago, the European Parliament’s directorate general for internal policies of the union had commissioned a study on the proposed new right for publishers. After the results were published last October, they were finally presented to members of the Legal Affairs Committee yesterday. What should have been an informing workshop turned out to be yet another opportunity for the right's supporters to shut down arguments with their lies and to cause confusion. Weiter

New open letter representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders   Am 4. Dezember 2017 - 14:37 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Together with over 80 other organizations, we have co-signed an open letter to the Ministers attending the Competitiveness Council and the EU institutions last week to once again warn them of causing severe damage. Weiter

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