EU Copyright Directive: Google News threatens to leave Europe while media startups increasingly worry

Press conference of Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the EC, on geoblocking and e-commerce
Date: 30/11/2018. Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont. © European Union , 2018 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service Photo: Lukasz Kobus

The European Copyright Directive negotiation meeting, which was supposed to take place last Monday regarding the finalization of Article 13 and Article 11, was cancelled due to the fact that eleven out of 28 EU countries voted against the text. The text is expected to be altered by the Romanian Council presidency in order to be able to reach a qualified majority.

However, apart from the EU member states, Google is considering the possibility of removing its news service from Europe in case the Directive is implemented; something that will have a huge impact on the Old Continent. Moreover, several digital rights organisations, educational institutions, software developers and startups have expressed their disagreement and concerns because these changes are going to affect fundamental rights and freedoms, innovation and creativity.

Background

The European Commission presented the reform of the EU copyright Directive in the Digital Singe Market in September 2016. Afterwards, the EU member states gave the green light in May 2018 to proceed with this proposal making only minor alterations. Four months later, Members of the European Parliament voted in favour of the new EU Directive. Currently, it is under formal Trilogue discussions that were expected to conclude this month but the negotiations were postponed because several EU countries turned down the proposed text.

The disagreement was about Article 13 and was triggered by Germany and France which were insisting on a higher and lower level of small-and medium sized companies respectively. It should be mentioned that Articles 11 and 13 are the ones which are mostly criticized. More specifically, Article 11 extends the current legislation by obliging anyone who wants to use snippets of journalistic online content to have the publisher license beforehand. Article 13 intends to mandate internet platforms, which host huge amounts of content, to be able to identify and prevent copyright infringement through monitoring processes.

Taking into consideration the above, the EU Copyright Directive is most likely going to be stalled for several months given the diverse views on the topic combined with the EU elections which are to take place in May 2019.

European Commission stance

Andrus Ansip stated his dissatisfaction for the postponement of the Trilogue discussions. Commissioner for Digital Single Market said in a tweet last Friday: “Quite disappointed about this delay. I think we should not on the last meters lose sight of the major achievements that are already largely agreed.”

Google Vs. EU copyright amendments

This new copyright Directive is going to affect Google and other web platforms which will have to pay publishers in order to show their snippets in the news search results section. The latter has mobilised the tech giant firm which might remove Google news section from the bloc in case the new Directive is voted according to Jennifer Bernal, Google’s public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

However, it seems very difficult for a company with Google’s magnitude to leave the European Union and starting losing its share from one of the biggest economies. For sure it will have a substantial impact on its revenues but not to the extent that cannot be shouldered. Thus, it is still very soon to tell whether or not Google’s threats will take effect. One thing is for sure though; the EU has showed that is not intimidated by US tech firms which have been already fined in the past.

Where do startups stand?

On the other hand, startups are also going to be heavily affected if the proposed EU Directive will come into force. The difficulties of startups to find investments are going to increase according to the founder of Tersee who is experiencing a similar law in Germany. Mikael Voss said on this issue: “After 4 years of lawsuits it’s still unclear whether this new law applies to our search engine. The unclear legal situation made it very difficult for us to find any investors. We have had to spend a lot of money on lawyers instead of new development.”

What is more, Martin Senftleben, Professor of Intellectual Property at the VU University of Amsterdam, supports that this copyright changes will not allow startups to grow. Mr Senftleben has stated that: “What you are doing is giving players that are already strong in the market place an even stronger position, and you take the legal certainty away for the startup initiatives to grow and become strong players themselves.”

Thus, the EU startups seem to be threatened by this Directive which will reduce innovation and prevent EU competition. The latter will have as a result to diminish investment funds which are critical for them to become bigger.

All in all, the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market seems to have crucial issues that need to be soothed in order to avoid serious consequences in the limitation of freedom and access to information and creation of uneven circumstances for EU startups, which will not be able to compete with bigger companies anymore.

Besides, similar laws which are implemented in Germany and Spain did not bring the preferable outcome as it had “negative effect on the visibility of the information” and no extra fee was granted to the right holders.

EU directives that will protect copyright are highly welcome and valuable as long as they are not directives that focus on protecting solely the copyrights of huge conglomerate publishing houses. Instead, the copyright protection needs to be equally distributed both to dinosaur media and media startups. Naturally, if enforcing copyright protection directives means increasing the cost of media startups to unbearable extents, then directives bluntly undermine freedom of media and speech in Europe. In theory, nobody wants that, what about practice though?

The Internet has given and gives a wide array of opportunities to extraordinary disruptors in heavily saturated markets, such as the media. If regulating this land of opportunities entails huge costs for startup media, then this is surely bad regulating. If the huge media lobby succeeds more obstacles to kick-starters, then again this is bad regulating.

The European Commission surely has the skilled staff to regulate the Internet in favour of media startups and ensuring a colourful and diverse polyphony, serving thus the free press primordial value in European democracies.

Why don’t you focus on that instead?

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Benefits of rural migration effect often overlooked, new UN report suggests

Politicization of migrant ‘crisis’ in Hungary making them scapegoats, independent UN human rights expert warns

What do the economic woes of Turkey, Argentina and Indonesia have in common?

Latvian economy is thriving, but boosting productivity, improving social protection and transitioning to a low-carbon productive model are vital for sustainable and inclusive growth

EU elections: The louder the threats and the doomsaying the heavier the weight of the vote

Bundestag kick starts the next episode of the Greek tragedy

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

FROM THE FIELD: Weather reports come to aid of Uganda’s farmers

Concern rising over fate of Rohingya refugees sent home by India: UNHCR

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

We don’t need to ban plastic. We just need to start using it properly

Huawei answers allegations about its selling prices

How telehealth can get healthcare to more people

Eurozone stuck in a high risk deflation area; Draghi expects further price plunge

EU-Japan trade agreement enters into force

UN agency chief calls Ethiopia’s revised refugee law ‘one of most progressive’ in Africa

Digital transformation and the rise of the ‘superjob’

The next Google in biotech: will it be Chinese?

DR Congo: efforts to control Ebola epidemic continue, UN food relief agency doubles assistance to affected people

Amsterdam is getting a 3D-printed bridge

I cycled over 6,000km across the United States to document climate change. Here’s what I learned

3 ways to fight stress at work

Germany’s strong anti-bribery enforcement against individuals needs to be matched by comparably strong enforcement against companies

We all have a ‘hierarchy of needs’. But is technology meeting them?

Technology can help us end the scourge of modern slavery. Here’s how

Saudi Arabia, China, among 14 nations under UN human rights spotlight: what you need to know

European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

France is building a village for people with Alzheimer’s

Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century

“Leaked” TTIP document breaks post 8th negotiations round silence and opens door to critics

‘Crippling to our credibility’ that number of women peacekeepers is so low: UN chief

Women must be at ‘centre of peacekeeping decision-making’, UN chief tells Security Council

This app lets you plant trees to fight deforestation

Africa Forum aims to boost business, reduce costs, help countries trade out of poverty

EU–US: What is the real exchange in a Free Trade Agreement?

Eurozone: Even good statistics mean deeper recession

The EU Commission vies to screen Chinese investment in Europe

With security improving in DR Congo’s Kasai, thousands of refugees head home from Angola

Partnerships key to taking landlocked countries out of poverty: UN Chief

These are the world’s 20 most dynamic cities

Biggest London City Banks ready to move core European operations to Frankfurt or Dublin?

New Erasmus: more opportunities for disadvantaged youth

What is digital equality? An interview with Nanjira Sambuli

‘Race against time’ to help women who bore brunt of Cyclone Idai: UN reproductive health agency

At UN, Cuba slams US ‘criminal’ practices undermining country’s development

UN chief hopes for new agreement after Israel concludes international observation mission

Migrant workers sent more money to India than any other country last year

Security Council condemns ‘heinous and cowardly’ attack in Iran

Opening – Parliament expresses support for victims of Fuego volcano in Guatemala

Kenya wants to run entirely on green energy by 2020

A Sting Exclusive: “The Digital Economy and Industry are no longer opposing terms”, Commissioner Oettinger underlines live from European Business Summit 2015

Can Obama attract Iran close to the US sphere of influence?

This is what the world’s CEOs really think of AI

COP21 Breaking News: “We must accelerate the process”, Laurent Fabius cries out from Paris

Migrant caravan: UN agency helping ‘exhausted’ people home

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission registers ‘Mandatory food labelling Non-Vegetarian / Vegetarian / Vegan’ initiative’

More Stings?

Comments

  1. This directive is very important even with its controversial articles 11 and 13 as they address copyright issues. These provisions are important since they preserve copyright protection though they will impose cumbersome procedures on authors and publishers alike. Bashar H. Malkawi

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s