Neighbouring rights for publishers: are national and (possible) EU initiatives lawful?


Published on

To tackle the financial difficulties facing the newspaper industry, different solutions have been advanced in Europe. These have resulted in either the conclusion of consensual agreements or the adoption of national legislative initiatives to create sui generis rights over news content. Currently also the EU Commission is considering whether a neighbouring right for publishers – whether in the press sector alone or also other sectors – should be proposed for adoption at the EU level.

This contribution discusses: (1) the compatibility with EU law of national legislative initiatives that have resulted in the creation of sui generis rights for press publishers; and (2) whether a neighbouring right for publishers may be adopted at the EU level and, if so, what changes of the copyright acquis are required. It concludes that, while the former may be contrary to Member States’ obligations under EU law, the latter may be pursued by amending relevant directives.

Published in: Law
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Neighbouring rights for publishers: are national and (possible) EU initiatives lawful?

  2. 2. Contents • Whether national legislative initiatives are compatible with EU law • InfoSoc and Rental and Lending Rights Directive • CJEU case law • Whether a neighbouring right for publishers may be adopted at the EU level and, if so, what changes are required
  3. 3. Are national legislative initiatives lawful?
  4. 4. National initiatives • Declining revenues in press sector … because of news aggregators? • National responses • Private agreements between local press publishers and … Google • Belgium (2012) • France (2013) • Italy (2016) • Legislative initiatives • Germany (2013): a sui generis (waivable) right • Spain (2014): (unwaivable) fair remuneration right within quotation exception A success?
  5. 5. National legislative solutions from EU perspective • Have created a new category of initial rightholders, ie publishers = a category not expressly envisaged by InfoSoc Directive • Have broadened the scope of the right of reproduction and communication to the public, by allowing publishers to control (and prevent) unauthorised provision of links to and small excerpts of relevant news content Is this OK?
  6. 6. The objectives of the InfoSoc Directive • Implementation of WIPO Internet Treaties into EU legal order • Harmonisation of principal rights and related exceptions/limitations • Proper functioning of internal market (Recital 6) • Diverging national approaches to copyright and neighbouring rights would cause legal uncertainties and lead to re-fragmentation of the internal market (Recital 7) • Also avoid inconsistent national responses to technological advancement (Recital 7)
  7. 7. CJEU case law seems to suggest: NO
  8. 8. Svensson (C-466/12, 13 February 2013) • Linking to lawful content freely accessible on website not within scope of right of communication to public • Member States cannot broaden scope of communication to public beyond InfoSoc Directive • Would otherwise defeat harmonising objectives of InfoSoc Directive • Same rationale appears applicable by analogy to other InfoSoc rights If not by means of exclusive rights, can ‘ancillary copyright’ be OK as new neighbouring right?
  9. 9. C More (C-279/13, 26 March 2015) • Member States cannot grant holders of the making available right an exclusive right as regards acts which could be classified as acts of communication to the public but which do not constitute acts of making available to the public • However, they can broaden scope of neighbouring rights under Rental and Lending Rights Directive  The ‘acts’ covered by Rental and Lending Rights Directive can be broadened, but can new rightholders be created as well?
  10. 10. Reprobel (C-572/13, 12 November 2015) • Publishers are not included in InfoSoc Directive among relevant rightholders: creation of this new category of rightholders not allowed
  11. 11. Conclusion • From Svensson and C More it follows that: (1) in relation to copyright, right of communication to the public cannot be extended to cover acts other than those mentioned by the InfoSoc Directive; (2) in relation to neighbouring rights, Member States may broaden the categories of acts. However, it appears that – also by analogy with the Reprobel decision – the freedom of Member States in the area of neighbouring rights does not go as far as to suggest that Member States also have the freedom to create new categories of rightholders in respect of neighbouring rights • Re-fragmentation of the internal market
  12. 12. Can a new EU neighbouring right be introduced?
  13. 13. … The Digital Single Market Strategy (DSMS)
  14. 14. December developments
  15. 15. Neighbouring right for publishers “The Commission has no plan to tax hyperlinks. We have no intention to ask people to pay for copyright when they simply share a hyperlink to content protected by copyright. Europeans share and post hyperlinks every day and they should remain free to do so. The Commission will look at the activities of different types of intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected content. This is a different issue. News aggregators, for example, are not only using hyperlinks but also extracts of articles and may gain revenue doing so.” • Germany; Spain • Letter of press publishers to EU Commission (December 2015) • Public Consultation (23 March – 15 June 2016)
  16. 16. What is required • Amending InfoSoc Directive and Rental and Lending Rights Directive to add publishers (whether just in press sector or also other sectors) among categories of relevant rightholders in both directives • This inclusion necessary to allow the creation of new neighbouring right at the EU level but also (further to the C More decision) to allow Member States to possibly alter (ie broaden) its scope at the national level
  17. 17. Possible objection: a right of quotation? • Article 10bis Berne: “It shall be permissible to make quotations …” • InfoSoc Directive implements WIPO Internet Treaties • Member States lost competence to give effect to Articles 1-21 Berne • Article 5(3)(k) has optional exception • Plus are we really speaking of quotations? • CJEU in Painer: “accompanied by comments or criticism”
  18. 18. Conclusion • National initiatives may be contrary to EU law • An EU-wide neighbouring right for publishers – whether in press sector alone or also other sectors – may be adopted by amending relevant directives, ie the InfoSoc Directive and Rental and Lending Rights Directive • Whether this is desirable is a different issue …
  19. 19. Thanks for your attention @eLAWnora