Speech from Commissioner Oettinger signals continued movement towards innovation-killing link tax in new copyright consultation
News websites, businesses and Internet users could face “Link Tax 2.0” as Commission hints at expansion of controversial legislative measures
April 6, 2016– This evening in Brussels, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger gave a speech at an industry event focused on News Publishing and Digital Innovation that suggests the Commission will continue to pursue legislation on neighbouring rights for publishers – which could include the controversial ancillary copyright measures. Experts and advocates warn this will amount to a “link tax” for new aggregators and media outlets.
In his speech, Oettinger stated that speed in the legislative process is crucial, and the Commission intends to move legislation forward in the next 18 months. Advocates are worried that the new European Commission consultation on ancillary copyright could be an attempt to drum up legitimacy for an proposal that was rejected by respondents in the consultation on platforms late last year.
In response, OpenMedia Digital Rights Campaigner Ruth Coustick-Deal had this to say: “Thousands of individuals have already responded to the Commission’s consultation on platforms firmly saying ‘no’ to the link tax. We’re disappointed to see the Commission not only disregard this feedback, but to actually look at expanding the scope of this reckless copyright overreach.”
Coustick-Deal continued: “If the Commission’s aim is to encourage digital innovation and media diversity in Europe, this approach will accomplish the opposite – killing innovative new services and actually making it more difficult for individuals to find a variety of news sources online. It’s obvious the link tax has to go.”
Experts and advocates have largely condemned the proposed ancillary copyright measures, such as OpenForum Europe who point to the failed and disastrous implementation of such regulations in Spain and Germany. The group warns that expanding the scope of rights for news publishers will make a bad situation worse, not better. Moreover, concerned industry groups have urged the Commission to ensure transparent input from a wide range of stakeholders given the wide-ranging implications of potential changes to the EU’s copyright regime.
These concerns are echoed by over 10,000 Internet users who have spoke out on the record of the original consultation through a campaign hosted by the Save The Link Network at SaveTheLink.org. The idea faces opposition in European Parliament as well. Last July, MEPs overwhelmingly rejected amendments that would have opened the door to an EU-wide ancillary right for press publishers, and recently more than 80 MEPs came out with an open letter against ancillary copyright.