Tag Archives: EU

CEPIC clarification on the Copyright DSM Directive

It is still time to reach a balanced solution for a fair value sharing in a digital environment

On O5 July 2018 the European Parliament voted against the negotiation proposed by the Legal Affairs Committee, adopted on 20 June 2018, for the EU Copyright Directive proposal.  CEPIC regrets this rejection following four years of tireless work with EU institutions but will continue to work towards a balanced solution for a fair online marketplace for the creative sector and against online piracy.

Giving a free pass to platforms to override copyright kills creativity. Copyright is not against freedom of expression and innovation but, to the contrary creativity is the best nexus of cultural diversity and freedom of expression.

Images online

CEPIC represents hundreds of picture agencies and hundreds of thousands of photographers. CEPIC’s members have been digitizing visual content from the advent of the Internet. They license the resulting digital asset for all kinds of commercial uses, to newspapers, magazines, advertising, broadcasters, off and on-line, etc.

Images are widely shared online via search engines, social media and other aggregators and have highly contributed to make the Internet the vibrant and engaging place we enjoy today.

However, we have seen, over the last decade how heavy weight social media platforms (online content sharing service providers), which have built their success upon the posting and sharing of unlicensed images hide behind safe harbour provisions to avoid fairly compensating rights holders  for the use of their content and shift the liability onto the individual user. These platforms have contributed to fuel the internet with unlicensed content and deprive copyright holders of a stream of revenue.

What is referred as the “value gap” for most copyright material such as music and videos is more accurately called a “value block” for images as there is currently no opportunity for image providers to participate in any type of revenue scheme online. The situation of image providers is exacerbated by the practice of intermediaries distributing user up-loaded content by facilitating “framing”, or embedding.

According to CEPIC members 85% of images shared online by visual search systems are unlawful copies. Once uploaded or framed legitimately on a website, an image will be shared thousands of times leading, according to CEPIC members, to an economic harm of a couple of thousands euros per image. This free “availability” of images has been one major factor leading to decreasing value of images and to the demise of an entire sector.

Copyright online

CEPIC therefore welcomed the provisions in the proposed Copyright Directive which promotes effective licensing agreements between platforms and right holders with the possible, but non-mandatory implementation of effective technologies. It should be stressed that the draft Directive has gone through a long-detailed review of two years and has led to a positive vote of the Legal Affairs Committee on 20 June 2018, taking into account the conclusions of four other Committees.

We therefore regret the fact that MEPs have been targeted by a coordinated campaign of misinformation against the text of article 13 proposed by the JURI Committee, in a scale rarely seen before and in a clear attempt to obstruct the progress of the legislation that is vital for the protection of copyright online. Valid decisions cannot be based on scaremongering and mass intimidation. Clearly this situation calls for clarification.

If the Directive is approved, it will provide a better functioning online marketplace which will aim to:

–          Reinforce the position of right holders to negotiate licensing agreements and be remunerated for the online exploitation of their content on sharing platforms;

–          Fix the value gap by sharing the revenues to creators from the use of their content in online platforms;

–          Create a level playing field in Europe’s Digital Single Market which will stimulate creation of high-quality content;

–          Improve transparency online and give more control to creators by allowing them to determine whether, and under which conditions, their work is used online.

It will NOT:

–            End popular memes, parody or pastiche

Caricatures, parody or pastiche are protected by an optional exception – under Article 5(3)(k) of the 2001 InfoSoc Directive, allowing reproduction and communication of such content to the public and guaranteeing the authors’ freedom of expression.

Therefore, Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive will not affect the application of this exception. It only creates an obligation at the level of online platforms and not on their users who will be able to access and post their content.

The proposed Copyright Directive only adds the possibility for authors of memes or parodic content to tackle over-removal by online platforms through the mandatory redress mechanism included in the proposal which means that in case parodic content is removed, the creators of this content will be able to contest the removal and ask the content to be published based on the parody exception in place.

–            Filter the Internet. The proposal does not impose mandatory up-load filters and censorship in the internet.

In fact, the European Data Protection Supervisor has concluded, in its formal comments on the text of Article 13 proposed by JURI report 29.06.2018, that the balance of fundamental rights is preserved by Article 13, considering that the text requires Member States to ensure:

o   that any measure to be put in place must be “proportionate”;

o   the balance between fundamental rights of users and rightholders is preserved and;

o   that no general monitoring obligation of information transmitted or stored is imposed.

The proposal is not targeting users and their capacity to upload content in the internet. It targets large platforms, which have become major sources of access to copyright-protected content to collaborate with rightsholders. These platforms are required to put in place “effective and proportionate measures…in collaboration with the right-holders” to allow the functioning of agreements reached on the use of copyright-protected content, or to prevent the availability of unauthorised content if right-holders prefer not to have their content available on such platforms.

In fact, platforms, such as YouTube already use content ID technology to identify copyright protected content which allows authors to be paid when their content is used online. Other platforms, large and small, resort to third party technology to implement a “Take Down and Stay Down” service. We simply ask that this is standard across all online content sharing service providers.

–          Add an additional burden and barrier of entry on start-ups and other small businesses:

o  Firstly, the directive only targets platforms “with large amounts of user up-loaded content”

o  Secondly, the measures implemented are requested to be “proportionate”

We are facing a crucial time for the future of the creative industry as the Copyright Reform is being voted on. Copyright laws need to be modernised in order to protect the livelihoods of creators.

We will stay mobilized to start negotiating in order to lift all uncertainties left by the overwhelming misinformation campaign orchestrated by those opposed to the Copyright Directive and provide all information for a fair and informed vote on September 12th, 2018.

 

About CEPIC
CEPIC is a European not-for-profit trade association in the field of image rights. CEPIC was founded in 1993 to present a unified voice to advise and lobby on new legislation emerging from Brussels. It was registered as an EEIG (Economic European Interest Group) in Paris in 1999. As the Centre of the Picture Industry, CEPIC brings together nearly 600 picture agencies and photo libraries in 20 countries across Europe, both within and outside the European Union. It has affiliates in North America and Asia. It has among its membership the larger global players such as Getty or Reuters. Through its membership, CEPIC represents more than 250.000 authors in direct licensing.

For more information contact:
Sylvie Fodor
Executive Director
s.fodor@cepic.org
+ 49 177 2332 514
www.cepic.org

Copyright Law Rejected in EU Vote

A controversial bill in the EU seeking a rewrite of Europe’s copyright laws giving creators more power to restrict how their content is distributed has been rejected by lawmakers.  The vote was 318 against the legislation, known as The Copyright Directive, while 278 voted in favor, and 31 abstained, taking the reforms back to the drawing board.

The reforms to the law had two elements deemed particularly controversial by critics, Article 11 and Article 13.

Article 11, also called “link tax,” would force internet giants such as YouTube, Google, and Facebook to pay for using news snippets from publishers on their platforms.

Perhaps most contested is Article 13, which would require companies to monitor all content uploaded online to their platform to check it for copyright infringement. Critics said this could lead to the removal of internet memes, which often use copyrighted images.

The New York Times has a comprehensive article about the bill here.

 

Google Responds to EU’s Antitrust Case

From ICOMP’s Blog:

Google in Denial

Today’s blog post from Google is, unfortunately, simply another attempt to divert attention away from the devastating impact their self-preferencing has had on the online market, making many of the same old arguments we have seen before.

Commissioner Vestager has been clear that in her view Google’s systematic self preferencing of its own comparison shopping service, along with its demotion of rivals, is in breach of European antitrust rules. But, in spite of the detailed work and analysis of the Commission and others over many years, Google still refuses to acknowledge the impact of its anti-competitive conduct.

If Google truly believes “in the interest of promoting user choice and open competition”, and in the strengths of its arguments, we would urge them to make their case in front of the Commission and complainants at an oral hearing.

The decision is in Google’s hands, but holding a hearing could provide a unique opportunity for Google to present its full defence and for complainants and other interested third parties to offer their perspectives. We have long believed that transparency and a meaningful debate is in everyone’s best interest, and an oral hearing is an important step in ensuring that such a debate takes place.

We look forward to supporting the Commission in taking the case forward and helping to find robust and workable long-term solutions to remedy the harms caused by Google’s anti-competitive practices. ICOMP’s members, who represent a wide range of interests in the digital sphere, will be keen to ensure that effective remedies are speedily reached.

See the whole story on Politico here

**DMLA is a member of ICOMP

Europe to accuse Google of illegally abusing its dominance

Financial Times
By Alex Barker, Christian Oliver and Anne-Sylvaine
April 14, 2015, 2:01pm ET

Google will on Wednesday be accused by Brussels of illegally abusing its dominance of search in Europe, a step that ultimately could force it to fundamentally change its business model and pay hefty fines.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is to say that the US group will soon be served with a formal charge sheet alleging that it breached antitrust rules by diverting traffic from rivals in order to favour its in-house services, according to two people familiar with the case.

Serving Google with a so-called statement of objections will be the opening salvo in one of the defining antitrust cases of the internet era. It could prove as epic as the decade-long battle with Microsoft that ultimately cost the company more than €2bn in fines.

The commission’s move comes after a torrid a five-year investigation that Google came close to settling without charges last year. The draft deal collapsed after fierce objections were raised by ministers in France and Germany, and by some of the continent’s most powerful telecoms and media groups.

The EU’s antitrust case comes against the backdrop of a growing European backlash against Silicon Valley and the economic disruption of the digital age. Once lauded for their innovative spirit, big US tech groups have come under mounting criticism in Europe over their market dominance and the way they handle personal data, especially in the wake of the US internet surveillance scandal.

A decision on charges is to be taken by the college of 28 EU commissioners on Wednesday. Some commissioners are concerned that Ms Vestager has, according to one source, restructured and narrowed the case she inherited from her predecessor Joaquín Almunia. As well as search issues, the investigation has looked at allegations that Google illegally scrapes content from rivals, locks in some publishers into using Google search ads, and makes it hard for advertisers to move campaigns to rival search engines.

Although Google has faced antitrust questions on three continents for several years, the EU move is the first time the company has been accused of formal wrongdoing. It will be given 10 weeks to respond to the allegations and will have the opportunity to call a hearing to make its defence.

Ultimately, the commission has the power to levy fines of up to 10 per cent of Google’s global turnover and can impose far-reaching curbs on its business practices. Almost 20 complainants against Google want the search engine to abide by strict rules that ensure its formula treats its own services — providing results for travel, shopping, and maps — no differently from rivals. Spokespeople for Google and the commission declined to comment.

If the charges are proven, it could take at least a year and probably significantly longer for the commission to make a final decision. Google would probably challenge any ruling that goes against it through the European courts, opening a legal war that could run for years.

The commission’s long attempt to settle the case with Google under Ms Vestager’s predecessor Mr Almunia made it one of the most fraught and politically charged antitrust cases to be dealt with by Brussels.

Google supporters feel the commission’s volte-face on a settlement reflected politics rather than an independent assessment. No EU antitrust case has ever been extended to three settlement offers, or been revived after complainants were formally warned that their case is about to be rejected.

On top of the pressure from Brussels, this week Google is also under scrutiny in France where lawmakers are considering an initiative that would force it to hand over its secret formula for ranking websites.

Revealing our algorithms — our intellectual property — would lead to the gaming of our results, which would be a bad experience for users
– Google

The French senate is likely to adopt a bill this week which would allow the country’s national telecoms regulator to monitor search engines’ algorithms, with sweeping powers to ensure its results are fair and non-discriminatory. The French initiative will become law only if it is adopted by the senate and the lower house of parliament and will also require government backing.

Critics complain that Google’s algorithm can be skewed to hurt rivals and want it published to ensure accountability. Google argues such transparency would make its search engine a target of spam and hand rivals its business secrets for free.

A spokesperson for Google in France said: “We’re transparent about what ranks well on Google, including when we make changes, but by definition, not everyone can come top. Revealing our algorithms — our intellectual property — would lead to the gaming of our results, which would be a bad experience for users.”

The amendment, proposed by centre-right lawmakers and attached to a broader economic reform bill assembled by economy minister Emmanuel Macron, has yet to secure the government backing needed to survive the legislative process and pass in the National Assembly.

But Catherine Morin-Desailly, chair of the Senate’s culture, education and communication committee, told the Financial Times that discussions with the government were encouraging.

“The government is well aware of the issues,” Ms Morin-Desailly said. “It’s a question of ensuring fairness. Too many businesses view search engines as bottlenecks. The net is tightening around [Google].”

If approved, the proposal would give Arcep, France’s telecoms regulator, oversight of any search engine that has sufficient power to “structure the functioning of the digital economy”. Google would be required to provide links to at least three rival search engines on its homepage, and disclose to users the “general principles of ranking”.

Additional reporting by Richard Waters in San Francisco

Kurt Sutter Attacks Google

Kurt Sutter Attacks Google: Stop Profiting from Piracy (Guest Column) in Variety

In a very frank article in Variety, Kurt Sutter, executive producer of the FX drama series “Sons Anarchy” talks about how Google is misrepresenting the truth about piracy and copyright laws.  He says they systematically destroying the future of artists by spending tens of millions of dollars each year on eroding creative copyright laws.

Read the entire article here.

PACA and other international trade associations have been actively involved in IComp, an industry initiative for organizations and businesses involved in Internet commerce, which is working to stop some of Google’s practices, but we need the support of our members and the U.S. Congress.  We applaud the EU and their ongoing efforts against Google.

 

EU Google investigation: Adequate answers still not found. BEUC files complaint asserting consumer interest

The European Consumer Organisation has stepped up its involvement in the European Commission’s antitrust investigation into how Google Inc. puts its preferred services atop search results while demoting rivals, particularly in price comparison searches. Currently an ‘interested party’, essentially having observer status, BEUC has today applied to be a formal complainant.

The European Commission has recently signalled its willingness to settle on the basis of Google’s suggested remedies, but BEUC believes consumer concerns have not been suitably addressed.

Commenting, Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation said:

“Adequate answers have not been found to the problem of Google stacking its search results as suits itself. Users are given the impression their searches are neutrally decided and this problem is exacerbated in price comparison searches. That is why we are becoming formally involved in this process. European consumers deserve a better outcome, the remedies currently proposed by Google do not meet users’ legitimate expectations.”

“The placement of three rival services beside Google’s preferred results is not yet merit-based and so they are not neutral. Such stacking will lead to broader problems for the market further down the line. This kind of online real estate does not come cheap, so affording Google too much discretion to decide who is a ‘rival service’ is weighted in favour of those with the greatest commercial clout. “

“Clearly the issue requires further examination. EU antitrust rules are there to protect fairness within the European Single Market. It is critical that a solution recognises a ‘non-discrimination principle’ and does its utmost to allow users to get back to searching, not being led.”

Is Google close to settling EU antitrust probe?

Googlelogo

Pursuant to an article today in Reuters, they suggest that the EU Commission and Google have reached an agreement to settle a 3 year European antitrust probe that allays concerns over blocking rivals from internet search results and avoids a potential fine of $5 billion dollars. A decision is expected in the next few days…READ THE ARTICLE HERE