EPC Study: Rewarding quality journalism or distorting the Digital Single Market? The case for and against neighbouring rights for press publishers

Economic analysis: 
  • EPC - Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Executive & Chief Economist and
  • Iva Tasheva, Junior Policy Analyst

Legal analysis: 
  • Deprez Guignot Associés - Professor Jean-Michel Bruguière, IP/Media lawyer and a professor at Grenoble University and 
  • Frédéric Dumont, Attorney & Partner

With the support of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA)

European legislators have taken on the ambitious task of adapting EU law to an increasingly digitalised world. As part of the European Commission’s strategy for the Digital Single Market, it is currently modernising EU copyright legislation. While copyright is an important tool to encourage investment in the creative industries, an ill-designed copyright reform would fail to deliver important objectives such as an efficient value chain and a functioning Single Market. It could also have a negative impact on society as a whole by limiting access to information, undermining media plurality and hampering innovation.

In September 2016, the Commission proposed to introduce ‘neighbouring rights’ for press publishers at EU level (currently under review by the European Parliament and Council). Neighbouring rights give publishers additional protection, entitling them to receive remuneration in the form of royalties from online services (such as search engines and news aggregators) that, for example, display snippets of news in search results. The aim of this report, compiled from discussions held in the European Policy Centre’s Digital Media Task Force, is to assess the economic and societal consequences of neighbouring rights, as well as their legal frameworks, based on the experience of recent ancillary copyright laws in Germany and Spain.

National experiences have not been satisfactory. First, neighbouring rights for press publishers do not appear capable of delivering the desired economic or societal benefits (see Part I of this report). On the contrary, they might have resulted in reduced competition and media pluralism as well as smaller consumer surpluses. Second, they have also raise significant legal issues (see Part II).

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