News Media Europe

NME Executive Director speech during the event on Copyright & Internet Freedom

NME news , September 28, 2016

Find below the speech delivered by Wout van Wijk, Executive Director of News Media Europe, during the roundtable on copyright and internet freedom organised by liberal Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake. This took place on 28 September 2016, in the European Parliament.

NME Executive Director Wout van Wijk speech during the event on Copyright & Internet Freedom

Many thanks to Ms Schaake and her staff for hosting this important discussion and the invitation to be part of it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m here today to tell you that

Neighbouring rights won’t break the internet

Neighbouring rights won’t cost the consumer anything

Neighbouring rights won’t stifle innovation


It recognises publishers as rightsholders, allowing them to be remunerated for the commercial use of their content, so they can pay journalists and invest in new and innovative ways of bringing news to the consumer.

A brief introduction to News Media Europe

My members, staff and I represent the progressive news media industry in Europe – over 2200 titles of newspapers, radio, tv and internet. While we focus here in Brussels on things like the AVMSD, VAT on digital content, rules on advertising and so forth, protecting media freedom and promoting media pluralism underpins everything we do and stand for.

Freedom of the press is more than simply a policy priority. It is the foundation on which European democracy, and European civilization, is built. It is the guardian of every other individual liberty we as European citizens take for granted – of thought, conscience and prayer, of the judiciary and the right to a fair trial, of free assembly. Where the press falters, either because of a direct attack on free speech or more likely in this competitive environment because of commercial failure, then the quality of our democracy suffers. That is why News Media Europe is so passionate about this, and why our central mission- central to everything we will do – is to be vigilant in safeguarding it.

News Media Europe is committed to maintaining and promoting the freedom of the press, to upholding and enhancing the freedom to publish, and to championing the newsbrands which are one of the most vital parts of Europe’s creative industries.  

Neighbouring rights won’t break the internet

The fear that neighbouring rights will affect hyperlinking, fortunately is unjustified. Publishers want and actively encourage their readers to share links to articles. It would not affect the way that our readers access publishers’ content, or share links on social media or via apps and email to friends and family. This is underlined in the text of the European Commission’s proposal, recital 33.

Neighbouring rights won’t cost the consumer anything

Recognising publishers as rightholders under EU-copyright law would give publishers the legal right to decide on how and where their content is made available. Every publisher would have the right to waive this right, or to manage it exclusively or collectively – but, importantly, it would be their choice.

News 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.  However, the current system does not recognise the value third parties get from publishers’ content.  In a world where advertising revenues, an important stream of income for publishers, is under pressure due to increasing dominance of large internet platforms (A recent US study showed that 85 cents of every dollar spent on online advertising go to Facebook and Google), publishers are looking for a fair share of the value others derive from their content by its commercial exploitation. Please bear in mind – content may be free to access, it is not free to create.

Neighbouring rights won’t stifle innovation

In the music industry, where we have these rights for some time now, we could witness the emergence of European startups Spotify, Soundcloud and Deezer – platform that all came about after the 2001 copyright legislation.

Or in the publishing sector, one of my favorite startups Blendle is growing fast through  their smart business model allowing consumers to buy individual articles with micropayments -they basically act as a middleman between consumer and publisher- so that consumers don’t have to buy the full newspaper or a subscription and publishers get paid for their content. Blendle is a Dutch startup, expanded to Germany and the US and now has over 1 million users.

There’s plenty of good stuff out there to suggest that innovation is not endangered.


The introduction of neighbouring rights recognises publishers as rightsholders

This recognition gives publishers the bargaining power they need in the asymmetric relationship that they currently face vis-a-vis the platforms, to get a fair remuneration for the commercial use of their content.

Introducing neighbouring rights isn’t about punishing the platforms – it is about cooperation.

It is about the sustainability of the industry.

It is about being able to invest in new and innovative services for the consumer.

We want the pie to be bigger for the entire ecosystem, we don’t want to be left fighting over the crumbs.

But most of all, it is about preserving quality journalism, content that is subject to editorial oversight, written by journalists that are granted the freedom to produce quality content, thereby empowering the truth.

So in short:

Neighbouring rights won’t break the internet

Neighbouring rights won’t cost the consumer anything

Neighbouring rights won’t stifle innovation


It recognises publishers as rightsholders allowing them to focus on the production and dissemination of quality news content.

Thank you.