Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Copyright Rules for All?

We read with interest the lengthy report on the recent European publishers and copyright debate under the European Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding. She is introducing a package that she believes ‘…will cement copyright as the cornerstone …create the appropriate balance between ownership and access … that says that member states shall ensure that subscribers to electronic communications services or networks are clearly informed in advance of their obligations to respect copyright and related rights and of the most common acts of infringements and their legal consequences.’

She also said the European Commission will focus on how Internet search engines work and help users to critically assess online content and would ask member states for support by organising events in 2008 on ‘the exchange of good practices’. She also gave support to an open standard project called the Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP), developed by publishers to allow them to control what is identified by Internet search engine robot “crawlers.”
What does this mean? More initiatives, more consultancy fees, more confusion and many grand words.

Then came the debate:
Cory Ondrejka, chief technology officer at online society SecondLife, told publishers that digital rights management (DRM) could be a hindrance.

Ronald Schild, CEO of German book marketer and publisher MVB, said the biggest challenge for industry is to reconcile the needs of the copyright holder with the public right to get information, and “not make the same mistake as the music industry” by using DRM. Stephanie van Duin, director of business development at Hachette Books, also said the publishing industry needs to learn from “what happened to the music industry.”

Mario Tascon, director general for content at Spain’s PrisaCom, said Internet and newspaper are two totally different media. David Hanger, president of the European Federation of Magazine Publishers and former publisher of The Economist, said readers have an irreplaceable love for magazines.

Claude Droussent, editorial director at l’Equipe, said that it will be impossible to tell readers to wait until the next day’s morning daily print version to obtain information about developments that have ended many hours earlier. He said his company’s motto is “one media, one content,”
Kees Spaan, vice president of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Associations and president of the Dutch newspaper association, said that without advertising there would be no newspaper. He harshly criticised Internet search engines like Google and Yahoo for giving away newspapers’ content without partnering with the publishers to ensure they are properly paid. But Jean-Christophe Conti, European vice-president for search marketing at Yahoo, encouraged publishers to put their content free online and to make partnerships with search engines so all can benefit from big advertisers.

So much posturing, many differences of opinion, and even more initiatives from Brussels; no change there then.