COREPER MEETS WEDNESDAY, 12 DECEMBER TRILOGUE MEETS THURSDAY, 13 DECEMBER
With Google still shouting from the rooftops that it will cut news publishers off at the knees if an EU Publisher’s neighbouring right is adopted, one should not be surprised that Google is ramping up its opposition to it when their very business model is based on free and unfettered re-use of publishers’ and others’ valuable content whilst dictating the terms and conditions. They have made no secret of their opposition to this right that simply provides publishers with their own legal standing through an exclusive right to negotiate with those who wish to re-use their content either individually, or collectively. EU talks on the final text of the draft law (Article 11) are nearing conclusion with two further EU meetings this week alone.
Threats to refuse to link to publishers’ content, should the law require them to seek a licence, is a prime example of flagrant abuse of dominant position. The mere possibility that Google may have to pay for their current business practices – a business model which is in fact based on monetising content produced by other players in the ecosystem – has them threatening small publishers, the internet ecosystem and the internet consumer.
In addition, Google’s demand that the right is “waivable” and can be licensed “for free” is an outrageous attempt to open a door for them to avoid any obligation to negotiate a licence or terms for the distribution of publishers’ content. All exclusive rights are inherently waivable so they are asking for something they in fact do not need. Quite simply put, they are seeking legislative loopholes to reinforce their dominant position that will allow them to continue to dictate the terms and conditions of distribution of journalistic content online in the future.
A spokesman for the publishers said: “News publishing in Europe is diverse in content, opinion, culture, language and special interests. It provides a broad perspective of news, entertainment, comment and investigation. We all value the incredible diversity of our independent press and its role in our democracy. However, without a workable Publisher’s Neighbouring Right, we will only see the world through the Google lens. This is why we call on Member States to agree on a Publisher’s Right according to how the European Parliament voted three months ago.