Senior members of the publishing world have presented to Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding and Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, a landmark declaration adopted on intellectual property rights in the digital world in a bid to ensure that opportunities for a diverse, free press and quality journalism thrive online into the future.
This is the first press communiqué on a significant meeting convened on 26th June in Berlin by news group Chief Executives from both the EPC and the World Association of Newspapers where the 'Hamburg Declaration' was signed, calling for online copyright to be respected, to allow innovation to thrive and consumers to be better served.
With the list of signatories growing by the day, the movers and shakers of the media are rallying around this Declaration, which started life in Hamburg, as a way to garner support from publishers and broadcasters throughout the world.
Host of the most recent signing ceremony Dr. Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Axel Springer AG, said: “I am happy about this international declaration of publishers. This is an important step in the interest of the global Internet community. The Internet is not our enemy but rather the future of journalism, if intellectual property is respected in the digital world as well. In front of all I see two main goals: We want a fair share of the revenues, which are already being generated through the commercial exploitation of our content by others, as well as the development of a market for paid content in the digital world. We are confident that the representatives of search engines and other aggregators will join us in realizing and opening up the opportunities of the market for legitimate paid content in the Internet.”
With copyright very much a live, hot issue in Brussels right now with the controversy of the Telecoms Package, digital libraries and new consultations expected soon on the follow up to Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy and the post-i2010 strategy, this Declaration could not be timelier.
Francisco Pinto Balsemão, CEO of the Portuguese media group Impresa, and Chairman of the EPC said: "A fundamental safeguard of democratic society is a free, diverse and independent press. Without control over our intellectual property rights, the future of quality journalism is at stake and with it our ability to provide our consumers with quality and varied information, education and entertainment on the many platforms they enjoy. In this declaration we call on governments worldwide to support the copyright of authors, publishers and broadcasters on the net”.
Gavin O'Reilly, Group Chief Executive Officer, Independent News & Media PLC, President of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and Chairman of ACAP (Automated Content Access Protocol) said: "We continue to attract ever greater audiences for our content but, unlike in the print or TV business models, we are not the ones making the money out of our content. This is unsustainable. Publishers failing will benefit no-one, least of all consumers, or indeed the search engines and other aggregators who currently make huge profits on the back of our intellectual property".
EPC and WAN-IFRA have collaborated closely in creating a new tool to enable any content provider to communicate their copyright terms and conditions online in a machine-readable way via ACAP (Automated Content Access Protocol). As Chairman of ACAP, O’Reilly added: “We need search engines to recognize ACAP as a step towards acknowledging that content providers have the right to decide what happens to their content and on what terms. The European Commission and other legislators call on our industry constantly to come up with solutions – here we have one and we call upon the regulators to back it up”.
Among the latest signatories are Frederic Aurand (President Groupe Hersant, France), Francisco Balsemão (Impresa, Portugal) Carlo de Benedetti (Editoriale L'Espresso, Italy), Carl-Johan Bonnier (Bonnier, Sweden), Oscar Bronner (Der Standard, Austria), Bernd Buchholz (Gruner & Jahr, Germany), Hubert Burda (Burda Media, Germany), Mathias Döpfner (Axel Springer AG, Germany), Hanzade Dogan (Milliyet, Turkey), Stefan von Holtzbrinck (Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, Germany), Patrick Morley (Telegraaf Media Group, Netherlands), James Murdoch (News Corporation, Europe and Asia), Horst Pirker, (Styria, Austria) Didier Quillot (Lagadére, France), Gavin O’Reilly (Independent News and Media, Ireland), Michael Ringier (Ringier, Switzerland), The Rt Hon The Viscount Rothermere, (Daily Mail and General Trust, UK), Ian Smith (Reed Elsevier, UK), Hannu Syrjanen (Sanoma, Finland), Robert Thomson (Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal, US), Giorgio Valerio (RCS Quotidiani, Italy) and Christian Van Thillo (de Persgroep, Belgium).
149 German publishers have already adopted the “Hamburg Declaration” since its introduction on 8 June 2009. The declaration started life as a regional initiative in Germany and then enjoyed nationwide support. Now, with the support of members of EPC and WAN-IFRA, the "Hamburg Declaration" has become an important international initiative.
The Hamburg Declaration regarding intellectual property rights reads as follows:
The Internet offers immense opportunities to professional journalism – but only if the basis for profitability remains secure throughout the digital channels of distribution. This is currently not the case.
Numerous providers are using the work of authors, publishers and broadcasters without paying for it. Over the long term, this threatens the production of high-quality content and the existence of independent journalism.
For this reason, we advocate strongly urgent improvements in the protection of intellectual property on the Internet.
Universal access to websites does not necessarily mean access at no cost. We disagree with those who maintain that freedom of information is only established when everything is available at no cost.
Universal access to our services should be available, but going forward we no longer wish to be forced to give away property without having granted permission.
We therefore welcome the growing resolve of federal and state governments all over the world to continue to support the protection of the rights of authors, publishers and broadcasters on the Internet.
There should be no parts of the Internet where laws do not apply. Legislators and governments at the national and international level should protect more effectively the intellectual creation of value by authors, publishers and broadcasters. Unauthorized use of intellectual property must remain prohibited whatever the means of distribution.
Ultimately, the fundamental principle that no democracy can thrive without independent journalism must also apply to the World Wide Web.