The European Commission recently launched a new public consultation on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain and on the so-called ‘panorama exception’. Interested parties, and in particular those involved in the publishing sector and the digital economy are invited to comment on the 23 questions raised by the Commission before the consultation closes on 15th June 2016.
This consultation is one of many Commission consultations launched in recent months to gather information and views on the comprehensive Digital Single Market Strategy launched in May 2015. For an overview of open, closed and future consultations regarding the Digital Single Market, have a look here.
The role of publishers in the copyright value chain
The controversial discussion of neighbouring rights for publishers is not a new one. In 2013 it led to the introduction into German law of a special neighbouring right for press publishers, followed in 2015 by a similar right in Spain. Now, the consultation at European level offers a further opportunity for the exchange of arguments for and against neighbouring rights for publishers in general: the consultation is not limited to questions concerning press publishers alone. Indeed the Commission seeks views on the impact of a possible extension not only on the publishing sector, but the whole value chain, as well as on the creative industries and on EU citizens.
The freedom of panorama
The freedom of panorama exception set out in Art. 5(3) (h) of the InfoSoc Directive permits Member States to make an exception or limitation to the rights of copyright owners in relation to works (such as works of architecture or sculpture) made to be located permanently in public places. Member States have implemented this exception in different ways and created legal uncertainty, for photographers in particular (and not only for professional photographers). So the Commission is seeking to evaluate by the consultation whether the current European framework and the level of harmonization relating to this exception should be revised.
The present consultation provides a new occasion to deal with the harmonization of publisher’s rights as well as the panorama exception at an EU level. Both topics were discussed extensively by the European Parliament last year in the course of its review concerning the possible revision of the InfoSoc Directive and of European copyright, although no recommendations relating to either issue made it into the EP’s final report.