Tuesday 6 March 2012

New neighbouring right to be introduced in Germany

The German coalition government has decided to create a new neighbouring right for newspaper publishers. In the future, commercial Internet service providers, such as search engine providers and news aggregators, shall pay an equitable remuneration to publishers for the use of media products such as newspaper articles. The move is supposed to ensure that publishers receive a share in the profits (mainly advertising revenue) that commercial internet service providers make from exploiting the publishers' products. Remembering that the pet child of German copyright law is the author rather than the publisher, the resolution goes on to state that authors shall also partake in the benefits of the new neighbouring right and receive an equitable share in the proceeds.

In an attempt to quell opposition against the proposal, the coalition has emphasised that the mere consumption of media products - looking up an article via Google News and reading it online, say - will not be affected by the proposed new law. This goes not only for private individuals, but for companies, etc as well.

In addition, the new neighbouring right is envisaged to be of a surprisingly and perhaps refreshingly short duration: only one year (presumably from the date of first publication).

The coalition does not seem too sure how the equitable remuneration for publishers and/or authors should be calculated, but trusts in the expertise of German collecting societies. It is likely that one of the existing collecting societies (my money is on VG Wort) will take over the administrative side of things.

Will the bus driver have to pay?
It will not come as a shock to you, dear readers, that the reactions to the proposed new law have been mixed. Depending on whom you ask, it's the best thing since sliced bread, a tentative step in the right direction, a subsidy for big publishing houses that will not benefit journalists in any way whatsoever, or a compulsory levy that unjustly favours one particular business sector. Journalist Stefan Niggemeier quipped (here): "It's as if the yellow pages had to pay companies for listing them. As if the bus driver had to pay the fun-fair operator for bringing him customers. The proposal lacks any kind of inherent logic."

So what do you think? Is the new neighbouring right a good thing or a really bad idea?

Report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung here
Report on heise.de here, which also contains a link to the resolution (which deals with a number of other things, too; the copyright bit is on page 4)

1 comment:

Henrik Hjalmarsson said...

What kind of moron could come up with something like that? :-\