Broadening the Lens in EU Copyright Reform
By FX Dussart, Senior Director, Public Policy
The European Commission's proposal to reform European copyright rules is now approaching crucial votes in the European Parliament. Part of the broader Digital Single Market strategy launched in 2015, the proposal has a goal of striking a balance between the rights and interests of online press publishers, and those of users and internet companies. We welcome the Commission's attention to this issue.
Oath is a snapshot of the modern media landscape – a diverse, dynamic, innovative and fast-moving digital ecosystem – and our interests span all sides of the debate. Some of Oath's services, including TechCrunch, Engadget, HuffPost and Yahoo News, are online press publishers and create original content. Others partner and create synergies with online press publishers to increase the value of their content via our sites. And some of our services help our users find other online content through links to other sources.
We believe that the creation, discovery and sharing of information online brings great value to our users and to our key partners, the news publishers. Given our unique position in the ecosystem, we understand the need to have a balanced set of copyright rules that govern the distribution of digital information, while protecting the content against abusive use.
We are concerned with the debate over online press and its evolution in the context of EU copyright reform. Key representatives of civil society, news publishers, innovators, and EU citizens keep warning against the danger of creating a badly framed right for press publishers. Such an approach is putting the online news ecosystem at risk. It falls short of creating a tailored protection ensuring more efficient rights enforcement to better protect the content. It prevents the circulation of information by covering the foundation of the internet: snippets and hyperlinks. Worse, it creates new issues for press publishers. It would not give protective rights only to reputed publications, but also to fake news outlets. It would, as was the case in Germany and Spain, undermine media pluralism.
As evidenced by Oath's brands and its own development of new products and services over time, the media landscape will only continue to evolve. For this reason, lawmakers should resist a simplified vision of a complex ecosystem, embrace its synergies, bring back balance to the proposal and ensure a positive outcome for our users, for rightholders, innovators and publishers.
September 18, 2017