Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Germany's Internet Copyright Proposal

Germany’s publishing giants and news outlets are trying to change copyright laws in Germany to help protect traditional media from the internet. Chancellor Angela Merkel “has pledged to create a new kind of copyright to protect online journalism.” Really, German publishers are tired of seeing companies like google “exploit their content” without paying any royalties or anything for the information. The coalition government has said that “the Internet cannot be a copyright-free zone.” Critics say that this proposal is only happening “because German publishers have failed to build successful business models on the internet” and that the internet should stay as unregulated as possible. 

The core of the coalition’s proposal is to give publishers a “neighboring right” whereby a license would be required for any “commercial use” of published material online. Private use of news articles would not require a license. 

What it really comes down to is the same thing that 20th century business models in every industry are dealing with: adapting in the digital age and for a digital future. The “Internet Manifesto” that journalists wrote after German publishers proposed the new copyright, they said that “copyright must not be misused as a lever to protect outdated distribution methods and to secure new business and licensing models.” 

Is this copyright innovation a quick fix for Germany’s publishers, or is it necessary to protect news media in the age of the internet? Because of the EU, legislation in member states does not exist in a vacuum. How would a copyright change like this work out in the EU, or in the US?

From “Germany Looks at Ways to Protect Online Journalism” by Eric Pfanner, The New York Times. 

1 comment:

  1. Amanda, maybe you could clear this up in class: how are German authors any less protected than authors of online articles in other countries? Intuitively, I would think that their protection would be the same as the country that the article was being read in. Do you know how copyright laws work across country lines?