A publishers' right is NOT a Google/links tax
The claim that the publishers' right is a threat to the link is the most misleading scare tactic of all from those who seek to undermine the case for a new publishers' right. There is a material and functional difference between you or me reading something we like and posting a link to Facebook and what commercial aggregators and search engines do. Opponents to the neighbouring right for press publishers like to suggest they're equivalent somehow.
Systematic scraping of content - which involves copying it 'en masse' into a private and permanently retained database, processing it and using extracts in commercial services such as search engines, for the purpose of making available text or images (or any other creative content for that matter) together with hyperlinks for commercial purposes is not equivalent to the activities of individuals browsing the web and posting links to things they are interested in.
Publishers will NOT use this right to block access to their content
Why would we do that? Popularity of our content has never been greater, particularly with the growth of smartphone readership and multiple access points to out content.
It is in publishers' interest to make their products available as widely as possible, on as many platforms as possible. But if big commercial operators continue to be allowed to reuse publishers' products and content without a licence or asking for authorisation, in the long run there will be less of them available. Even if some products are not available on all platforms users will still have many ways to discover and consumer those products, including on publishers' own websites!
Data shows that news and press content is the most 'wanted' content on social networks and online platforms (Reuters Digital News Report 2015). When dealing with sometimes very large and powerful operators, it's quite right that publishers should be able to grant permissions in return for agreed conditions and to withold permission when agreement cannot be reached.
Even today, internet content is not universally available on search and social platforms. Search engines are selective about which sites they include in their index. Social platforms use complex algorithms to select what any user sees. Publisher content will remain as available to users as it ever was, what search and social platforms choose to do to restrict availability is under their control, not publishers.
This right is NOT unique to publishers; Publishers are NOT asking for special treatment
A publishers' right will be similar to the related rights already enjoyed by broadcasters, music and film producers, whose finished works are protected in their entirety. This is what press publishers are asking for, too.
Since 1991 computer programs have benefited from full copyright protection at EU level. Furthermore, it's the companies, whose employees create these programs, which own all the rights to the programs and who have full exclusive control over how they are managed and enforced, just like film producers or broadcasters.
This is NOT just about Google
It's a sad fact of the internet that there are many companies, large and small, old and new that systematically scrape and re-publish press content for commercial purposes without permission or payment.
Small publishers will NOT be negatively impacted
Currently, even large media corporations are not in the position to negotiate for a fair settlement with dominant players. The hope is that the publishers' right might begin to address this asymmetry of power and make it easier for all publishers - whatever their size - to monetise and share fairly in the value of the content in the future if they would like to.
As the law currently stands, in order to defend their rights publishers need to attempt to track all uses of their content across the whole internet, issue notices in respect of each individual infringing use they discover, and, frequently, prove the chain of title for tens of thousands of articles and photographs. This is daunting, extremely costly, time consuming and practically impossible except in a small number of cases. The outcome is also rarely better than a takedown of the infringing content; damages and costs are rare.
Innovation will still be possible - and more accessible!
A publishers' right will help open the way for more innovation. Clarifying the law at EU level will improve press publishers' bargaining position when it comes to third parties' use of their works, and more legal certainty over their rights will help encourage investment and increase the possibilities for publishers of all sizes across Europe to develop new product offerings, to the benefit of their readers.
There's a myth that a liberal copyright regime is necessary to encourage innovation, but this is not true. Imagine a situation where tech companies allow others to use their patented or trademarked products or services without authorization or payment. Tech companies -fiercely defend and protect their own intellectual property. Why should it be any different when it comes to protecting copyright?
Users will NOT be criminalised and the internet will NOT be broken
Nothing we are asking for would affect the way that our readers access our content or share links on social media or via apps and email to friends and family. Nor will it change the contractual arrangements with journalists, photographers and other contributors.
The only people who will notice any changes at all are those who today free-ride for commercial gain on publishers' investments without permission or payment. Who are they? Well, not the readers, authors or individual users, but commercial organisations whose business models and significant economic benefits depend on the use of publishers' journalistically-produced content.
An independent, free press that supports diversity and upholds democracy CANNOT survive indefinitely without generating revenues
A free and independent press can only exist if there is adequate revenue to pay journalists, photographers and freelancers and to finance their training and security. Today, the prospect is increasingly reduced, due to declining print revenues that have not been matched by digital despite increased levels of readership. The reasons for this are complex, but in a nutshell large search engines and other distributors make publishers' content available for free to the user without re-investing in its production while making it difficult for publishers to charge users directly for the same content.
The loss of advertising share is also significant, as much of this now goes directly to search and social networks, which attract larger user groups that include users who are reading publishers' content on their platforms. Finally, unauthorised large-scale re-use of publishers' content and a lack of legal clarity that would enable enforcement against large-scale infringements is a growing problem that needs reversing.
Consumers will still be able to find news and content on different platforms
Publishers actively make their content available on all platforms, accessible on any device of choice. They recognize that consumers benefit from easy access to their content wherever they happen to be, whether this be through publishers' own websites, or on social media or search pages where multiple sources of content are aggregated. Not only do consumers benefit, but so do the hosts of publishers' content who derive value and real benefits through increased traffic, advertising revenues or in some cases subscription fees.
Publishers recognise that search and social media platforms are important partners for news organisations and that their traffic brings benefits, although not on the exaggerated scale claimed by some. The current system does not recognise the value third parties get from publishers' content. It is unsustainable for publishers to continue funding high-quality professional journalism without a fair share of the value others derive from their content.
Publishers are NOT just trying to support 'old' business models
Publishers have made an important transition from analogue to digital over the past decade with high degrees of innovation and enormous growth in audience and popularity. They have embraced the digital age and count as many technical staff as editorial.
Publishers have adapted their business model of selling their publications to their readers and advertising space to advertisers to the new digital environment and developed new ways of doing so. However, the large-scale exploitation of their content by third parties without prior authorisation and remuneration makes it difficult for publishers to keep the financing of independent journalism sustainable. It is therefore vital that the EU's copyright regime now also catches up with today's realities and is adapted accordingly with the introduction of a publishers' right.