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Commission seeks views on neighbouring rights and panorama exception in EU copyright

23 March 2016

From The European Commission – Digital Single Market:

Today the European Commission is launching an open consultation  as part of its work to update EU copyright rules for the digital age. It is seeking views on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain, including the possible extension to publishers of the neighbouring rights. Publishers do not currently benefit from neighbouring rights which are similar to copyright but do not reward an authors’ original creation (a work). They reward either the performance of a work (e.g. by a musician, a singer, an actor) or an organisational or financial effort (for example by a producer) which may also include a participation in the creative process. The Commission is also consulting on the panorama exception, which concerns the use made of images depicting buildings, sculptures and monuments located permanently in public places.

. . . .

An independent and pluralistic publishing sector is important for our society, cultural diversity and democratic participation. This part of the consultation therefore aims at gathering views as to the challenges (if any) faced by publishers of press and other print products in the digital environment as a result of the current copyright legal framework. It asks about the impact that a possible change in EU law to grant publishers a new neighbouring right would have on them and on the whole publishing value chain. The Commission also wants to gather views as to whether the need (or not) for intervention is different in the press as compared to other publishing sectors and which significance such an intervention would have for the future of the sector.

. . . .

Neighbouring rights are rights similar to copyright but that do not reward an authors’ original creation (a work). They reward either the performance of a work (e.g. by a musician, a singer, an actor) or an organisational or financial effort (for example by a producer) which may also include participation in the creative process. Current EU copyright law grants neighbouring rights to performers, film producers, record producers and broadcasting organisations. Publishers are not among the neighbouring right holders at European level.

Link to the rest at European Commission – Digital Single Market and thanks to SFR for the tip.

Copyright/Intellectual Property, Non-US

9 Comments to “Commission seeks views on neighbouring rights and panorama exception in EU copyright”

  1. so can anyone explain what new Rights they want to give to publishers/performers in English rather than legalese?

  2. Is this word salad discussing fan fiction? I’m honestly trying and failing to come up with anything else that would qualify as a “neighboring right” which is not ALREADY covered under copyright law.

    • Oh, it’s easy.

      If I’m sniffing out any meaning in the salad, it’s this: Publishers want their status as publishers to be recognized as a ‘neighbouring right’. So if you sign a publishing contract, you are committed by law for the life of the copyright no matter what. No matter what happens – breach of contract, termination, buying your rights back again, whatever – the publisher retains the exclusive right to profit from your work, because publishing is a ‘neighbouring right’, and that legal right trumps contract law or any other consideration.

      Perhaps I’m being excessively cynical to think this is what they’re trying to grab. But publishers, and European ones especially, have never yet failed to live down to my worst expectations, so I have a ghastly fear that I may actually be right.

      • That is pretty much my read, because of this:

        Publishers do not currently benefit from neighbouring rights which are similar to copyright but do not reward an authors’ original creation (a work). They reward either the performance of a work (e.g. by a musician, a singer, an actor) or an organisational or financial effort (for example by a producer) which may also include a participation in the creative process.

        Key term: “participation in the creative process”.

        By claiming that editing and formatting a manuscript is part of the creative process and equating publishing to movie production, the publishers can claim their books are–like movies, video games, and commercial music–a collaborative product, entitling them to partial ownership of the copyright.

        That should put an end to reversion and, for series writers, lock down control over the characters.

        It might sound innocuous but it is a real poison pill for authors: it would effectively turn all tradpub titles into work for hire. Kinda like what happened to L. J. Smith with Vampire Diaries.

        • My eyes got real big when I read this, but I didn’t come to the same conclusion you did. I don’t read additional exclusivity so much as a right to any of the revenue that comes from the creative product that they ‘helped’ to create.

          Using the analogy in the article, a performer performs a song, and they have the right to some of the revenue from it, as does the song writer. Every time he performs that song, no matter where or to what audience, he gets some of the revenue, and the writer gets some of the revenue. So every time that book sells, because the publisher helped create it, they get revenue from it. Arguably, if you sell movie rights to the book, because they helped create it, they get a piece of that. Reversion clauses would be null, because they get a piece of the copyright on that piece of work, and you have to prove that anything else you do (audio, translation, whatever) used creative material that they never touched.

          It’s possible that you’re right, though. That they would own characters and worlds – they helped create them – and whether you publish with them or someone else, they own a share of the revenue.

          Yikes.

          Would love someone to say that I’m wrong.

          • Even a small ownership slice could give them veto power over author deals. And there is no hint of what percent ownership they’d be getting.

            Couldn’t they plausibly argue copyright ownership share based on revenue rates? And since tradpub authors contractually agree to minority share of revenue it follows that publishers are the majority owner of the IP?

            Can of worms.

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