New Rights or New Business Models? An Inquiry into the Future of Publishing in the Digital Era
IIC International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law , Volume 48 - Issue 5 p. 538- 561
In its Proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, the European Commission included a new neighbouring right for press publishers with regard to the digital use of their publications “to ensure quality journalism and citizens’ access to information.” (European Commission, 14 September 2016, Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, Doc. COM(2016) 593 final, Art. 11(1) and Recital 31.) Undoubtedly, a free and pluralist press is one of the cornerstones of democratic societies. The question is, however, whether this goal can be achieved by adopting an additional layer of protection. From an economic perspective, it seems essential that publishers, including press publishers, develop new business models in the digital environment. To ensure the survival of quality journalism, it is of utmost importance to support the transition to new business models that has already started in the publishing sector. Hence, the question arises whether the proposal of a new neighbouring right is a legislative initiative that makes sense against this background. To answer this question, the following inquiry will first provide an economic analysis of new business models in the publishing industry. On this basis, it becomes possible to assess the proposal of a new neighbouring right in the light of the need to develop new business models that are sustainable in the digital environment. The analysis will show that the introduction of a new neighbouring right is unlikely to offer support in this respect. Instead, it may even impede or delay necessary modernization steps.