1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

New copyright legislation for digital publishing imminent, says European Commissioner at Publishers Forum

12 December 2007

"The role of the journalist is key in bringing trusted information to readers... Print media is going to be the most trusted media in the future," predicted Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding at the annual Publishers' Forum in Brussels.

European publishers shared a platform with the European Commission at the Publishers' Forum, a platform provided as an open change of views between publishers and Commission officials.

The focus was on the reality and challenges of digital publishing.

Commissioner Reding said current copyright legislation was designed for traditional media but that the imminent Communication on Online Media would consider copyright for digital publishing.

In her speech she said: "for the first time, an electronic communications package includes specific requirements for network operators and users to respect copyright law and I hope it will send a signal across the whole industry at a critical time."

Referring to the electronic communications package, she added: "Copyright is a cornerstone of the information and knowledge-based society. That is why I introduced in the new framework an appropriate balance between ownership and access…But law cannot achieve everything alone. As you know, I am an enthusiastic follower of self- and co-regulation to prevent or to supplement legal provisions. I also believe that new technologies can support rights management and enforcement. Therefore, I am following the Automated Content Access Protocol (www.the-acap.org) project as one of many projects to ensure respect of copyright, with high interest and I very much hope that companies offering search engines will cooperate with ACAP. Here we have good possibilities for a win-win situation for all stakeholders, as publishers can link content with authorisations for access and use in a form that can easily be recognised and interpreted by a search engine crawler and thus helps avoid complex and costly legal disputes between content providers and search engines."

Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Chairman and CEO of Impresa SGPS, added that lack of copyright protection of online content meant there was no long-term incentive for publishers to innovate at a time when publishers are making more and more content available online to meet their readers' demands."

During a discussion on VAT, Anne Bergman Tahon, Director of the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), argued that VAT on online publications discouraged take up of online publications and that whilst the Commission was keen to encourage publishers to put their work online, they were failing to provide fiscal incentives for them to do so.

Rolf Diemer, Head of Unit for VAT, DG Taxation and Customs at the European Commission insisted that reduced rates on online publications in line with the reduced rate option enjoyed by print publications were unlikely to be agreed and 0% rates were out of the question.

On the issue of car advertising, publishers encouraged the Commission to desist from imposing onerous public information labelling onto products, which would deter advertisers from advertising in the media. Car advertising represents the largest portion of advertising revenue to the media. There is current discussion on possible revision of the labelling directive which would, if MEPs have their way, modify rules relating to car advertising and CO2 emissions. The Commission said it is not rushing into anything. "The car industry has an important role to play but there is a big [environmental challenge] and the car industry must play its part," said a representative of DG Environment. Commissioner Reding acknowledged the importance of car advertising in her speech and said: "as long as I am Commissioner in charge of media, this Commission will not propose new advertising bans."

A summary of the meeting will shortly be available on request.

For further information, please contact Heidi Lambert on Tel: +44 1245 476 265, or:

To read Commissioner Reding's speech, go to: http://www.europa.eu.