European publishers ask the EC for help

Mon 13 July 2009 10:55, Bas van den Beld

European publishers ask the EC for help

European newspaper and magazine publishers have asked the European Commission to strengthen copyright protection. They believe that because their content is spread around the web by news aggregators, search engines and other websites, they are not able to create a online business model.

At June 8th German publishers launched the “Hamburg Declaration”. This regional inititave, originally set up by Axel Springer, now has gotten a pan-European character with several other European publishers joining in and adressing the European Commission.

The “Hamburg Declaration” was setup to create neigboring right for publishers, similar to how the online music industry is now working. In this model publishers could be asking royalty fees (licenses) to business for the use of the content.

In this format a system called "Automated Content Access Protocol" could be playing a big part. This would allow publishers to set terms for search engines and aggregators.

Dr. Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Axel Springer AG is thrilled with the support of other countries: “I am happy about this international declaration of publishers. This is an important step in the interest of the global Internet community. The Internet is not our enemy but rather the future of journalism, if intellectual property is respected in the digital world as well. In front of all I see two main goals: We want a fair share of the revenues, which are already being generated through the commercial exploitation of our content by others, as well as the development of a market for paid content in the digital world. We are confident that the representatives of search engines and other aggregators will join us in realizing and opening up the opportunities of the market for legitimate paid content in the Internet.”

The declaration has been signed by a group of European Publishers from different countries. Amongst the signers are: Frederic Aurand (President Groupe Hersant, France), Francisco Balsemão (Impresa, Portugal) Carlo de Benedetti (Editoriale L'Espresso, Italy), Carl-Johan Bonnier (Bonnier, Sweden), Oscar Bronner (Der Standard, Austria), Bernd Buchholz (Gruner & Jahr, Germany), Hubert Burda (Burda Media, Germany), Mathias Döpfner (Axel Springer AG, Germany), Hanzade Dogan (Milliyet, Turkey), Stefan von Holtzbrinck (Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, Germany), Patrick Morley (Telegraaf Media Group, Netherlands), James Murdoch (News Corporation, Europe and Asia), Horst Pirker, (Styria, Austria) Didier Quillot (Lagadére, France), Gavin O’Reilly (Independent News and Media, Ireland), Michael Ringier (Ringier, Switzerland), The Rt. Hon. The Viscount Rothermere, (Daily Mail and General Trust, UK), Ian Smith (Reed Elsevier, UK), Hannu Syrjanen (Sanoma, Finland), Robert Thomson (Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal, US), Giorgio Valerio (RCS Quotidiani, Italy) and Christian Van Thillo (de Persgroep, Belgium).

It is not yet clear whether or not this will influence the way search engines will have to work in the future and if this is actually a good idea by the publishers. This might just as well backfire easily.

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