The Sueddeutsche Zeitung announced it will be blogging live from Berlin at the Legal Affairs committee hearing on a proposed copyright law that would protect original news articles from being re-used for profit.
The Humboldt Law Center on Internet Rights will be tweeting the hearings live under #LSR. Both the Sueddeutsche Zeitung blog and the Humboldt tweets will be in German. Behindneweyes (Alangleyshields) will occasionally be re-tweeting translations of the Humboldt tweets.
Leistungsschutzrecht, LSR, has also taken on the unofficial title of Lex Google, because the bill targets aggregators like Google from using news articles to generate profit. (see stories below). Private use would not be affected.
News publishers are asking parliament to pass the bill as a way to gain back revenues lost to the Internet. Social media groups like Google and Yahoo! are fighting hard against it.
A day before the German parliamentary committee is set to hear testimony about a proposed copyright law, social media in Germany is buzzing.
The bill would create a new type of copyright called Leistungsschutzrecht, called LSR, to protect news articles. Aggregators and search engines, like Google, would be required to pay for the right to use original content generated from newspapers and bloggers if the aggregators gain commercially from the use. Private, non-commercial use would not be affected.
According to the website of the German parliament, nine experts are invited to speak before the Legal Affairs Committee: four law professors, two lawyers, two representatives of publishers and a representative of journalists.
Google, Yahoo! and other social media organizations like E-Plus, a mobile company, have flooded the Twitter-sphere, often repeating the same tweet: “The #LSR will endanger Social Media” and directing readers to a study sponsored by E-Plus.
Christoph Keese, a spokesman for publisher Axel Springer Verlag, a leading proponent of the bill, tweets, “More than 5 million have seen the #LSR videos, but only 180,000 have signed a petition opposing it? The movement has no traction.”
Bloggers like Stefan Niggermaier point out that that some of the invited experts – notably Till Kreutzer, a legal expert who runs IGEL, the Google-funded group which is lobbying against the bill- were asked to speak. However, he takes umbrage that Google representatives were not invited to testify.
A spokesman for CDU Member of Parliament Thomas Silberhorn, said the head of the Legal Affairs Committee, met with Google representatives Monday. Lawyers for the search engine “addressed the same issues as will be part of the public hearing tomorrow,” he said.
Although the hearing will not be broadcast, the committee has posted written statements by all speakers. The spoken testimony usually does not differ greatly from the written comments, but it does not cover questions the parliamentarians may ask – or the answers.
Benno H. Pöppelmann, who will represent journalists at the hearing, said in remarks already submitted to parliament that journalists support the idea of copyright for magazines and newspapers – something that, unlike music or movies, is not currently protected by law. However, the journalists union would like to see changes in the proposal that would include protection of all original written material.
In his prepared remarks, Kreutzer, said the LSR would create havoc on the Internet, causing unintentional collateral damage. Moreover, he added that online publishing businesses and aggregators depend on each other, he said. Both branches form on a voluntary basis an existing and well-functioning symbiosis.
Dr. Ralf Dewenter, Düsseldorf University, argues that the LSR is unnecessary because newspaper articles already are protected under current online copyright laws. Exactly because Internet articles can be linked (therefore the entire work is not being used), that aggregators may use them. He recognizes that publishers are pushing for LSR because their industry is in the midst of a structural, existential, change. Strengthening a copyright law, he adds, will not be a long-term solution.
Judge Jürgen Ensthaler, who also teaches at the Technical University of Berlin, is set to tell the committee that LSR fills a hole in current copyright laws. It is not monopolistic, because it targets only for-profit organizations that stand to profit from original work without paying for it. Moreover, he adds that free availability to a diversity of news and information – necessary for a democracy – is not endangered.
News aggregators and search engines in Germany will be required to pay publishers a fee for using their content—even snippets, those brief extracts that pop up in a search—if a bill before the Bundestag, the country’s legislative body, passes this Spring.
The bill would create a new type of copyright called Leistungsschutzrecht to protect news articles. Aggregators and search engines, like Google, would be required to pay for the right to use original content generated from newspapers and bloggers if they gain commercially from the use. Private, non-commercial use would not be affected. Continue reading
On Monday, Austrian Media Commissioner Josef Ostermayer recommended to Parliament changes to the public broadcasting rules (more about this later) and an increase in public subsidies for newspapers.
Ostermayer, (SPOe), asked parliament to consider raising the amount of subsidies to 15-20 million euros from the current 7 million euros. Karlheinz Kopf, from the ruling Austrian Volksparty, said he could imagine providing an even higher sum than that. Perhaps now is a good time to point out that this is an election year.
Still, this is all music to the ears of the Austrian newspaper publisher lobby, which have asked for 50 million euros.
“After years of cuts, …this is a very welcome signal,” Thomas Kralinger said on the website of the Austrian Newspaper Publishers group, VOeZ.
Shortly before 5 a.m. Friday, some 35 private security guards raided a camp established by union activists to protest what they called interference by the government of state-run news outlets. The protestors said they had proper papers allowing them to demonstrate in the public plaza across the street from the office building. Continue reading
Austrian journalists and publishers have agreed to de-escalate their rhetoric and continue to negotiate a collective contract in November.
In a Memorandum of Understanding posted on both websites Monday, publishers agreed to take back their September announcement that the journalists’ contract would be cancelled by year-end. Journalists said they would end their sporadic strikes.
Negotiators have until Nov. 14 to get their constituents to give a nod to the memo before the first of a series of negotiations over a collective contract can begin Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, according to the memo.
Both parties are aiming for a new agreement by July 1, 2013. This would require agreement on all substantive issues by Feb. 15, the memo said.
The newspaper publishers have warned that they no longer can afford what they call high salaries and nearly seven weeks vacation.
The journalists counter that the publishers are avoiding paying a living wage for freelancers and journalists working for websites. Austrian newspapers have separate newsrooms for their print and their online sites. Internet journalists receive less pay.