Skip to main content

Beyond the Cover Story – An Enquiry into the EU Competence to Introduce a Right for Publishers

Abstract

This paper examines the competence of the EU to introduce a neighbouring right for publishers (including a neighbouring right for press publishers, also called “ancillary copyright”). The assessment of competence is carried out following a step-by-step approach, which involves an analysis of the applicable Treaty norms and an assessment of subsidiarity and proportionality.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright in the Digital Single Market, 14 September 2016, COM(2016) 593 final, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2016/EN/1-2016-593-EN-F1-1.PDF (accessed 14 September 2016).

  2. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on Promoting a fair, efficient and competitive European copyright-based economy in the Digital Single Market, COM(2016) 592 final, 14 September 2016, pp. 7–8; Commission Staff Working Document Impact Assessment on the modernisation of EU copyright rules, SWD(2016)301 final Part 1/3, 14 September 2016, pp. 155–160; Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright in the Digital Single Market (Explanatory Memorandum), p. 3.

  3. This is a consequence of the principle of conferral, enshrined in Art. 5.2 TEU: “Under the principle of conferral, the Union shall act only within the limits of the competences conferred upon it by the Member States in the Treaties to attain the objectives set out therein. Competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States.”

  4. See case C-376/98, Tobacco Advertising I, para. 78; and joined cases C-465/00, C-138/01 and 139/01, Österreichischer Rundfunk, para. 41.

  5. Schütze (2014), p. 228.

  6. Ramalho (2014), pp. 178, 183.

  7. See Council Regulation (EC) No. 207/2009 of 26 February 2009 on the Community trade mark (codified version), amended by Regulation (EU) 2015/2424 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2015.

  8. See Council Regulation (EC) No. 6/2002 of 12 December 2001 on Community designs.

  9. A. Ramalho, op. cit., at pp. 184–185.

  10. Joined cases C-274/11 and C-295/11, Spain v. Council, para. 21.

  11. Case C-436/03, Parliament v. Council, para. 44.

  12. Tobacco Advertising I, paras. 83–84.

  13. See joined cases C-465/00, C-138 and 139/01, Österreichischer Rundfunk, para. 41; case C-380/03, Tobacco Advertising II, para. 80; case C-217/04, United Kingdom v. Parliament, para. 42.

  14. Tobacco Advertising I, para. 84: “(…) If a mere finding of disparities between national rules and of the abstract risk of obstacles to the exercise of fundamental freedoms or of distortions of competition liable to result therefrom were sufficient to justify the choice of Article 100a [current Article 114 TFEU] as a legal basis, judicial review of compliance with the proper legal basis might be rendered nugatory. The Court would then be prevented from discharging the function entrusted to it by Article 164 of the EC Treaty (now Article 220 EC) [replaced, in substance, by Article 19 TEU] of ensuring that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaty.”

  15. Case C-210/03, Swedish Match, para. 29, and case law cited therein.

  16. See Tobacco Advertising I, para. 84, and joined cases C-154/04 and C-155/04, Alliance for Natural Health, para. 28.

  17. Even though that argument was put forth by Germany (see Tobacco Advertising I, para. 29).

  18. Swedish Match, paras. 37–38.

  19. Case C-436/03, Parliament v. Council, para. 39.

  20. Case C-350/92, Spain v. Council, para. 35; case C-376/98, Germany v. Parliament and Council, para. 86; case C-377/98, Netherlands v. Parliament and Council, para. 15; case C-491/01, British American Tobacco, para. 61; case C-210/03, Swedish Match, para. 30.

  21. Swedish Match, para. 33.

  22. Case 155/91, Commission v. Council, para. 19. See also Lohse (2011), pp. 288–289.

  23. Tobacco Advertising I, para. 107: “(…) National laws often differ regarding the conditions under which the activities they regulate may be carried on, and this impacts directly or indirectly on the conditions of competition for the undertakings concerned. It follows that to interpret Articles 100a, 57(2) and 66 of the Treaty [now articles 114, 53 and 62 TFEU] as meaning that the Community legislature may rely on those articles with a view to eliminating the smallest distortions of competition would be incompatible with the principle, already referred to in paragraph 83 of this judgment, that the powers of the Community are those specifically conferred on it.”

  24. Tobacco Advertising I, para. 109.

  25. Case C-301/06, Data Retention, paras. 36 and 68.

  26. Tobacco Advertising I, para. 110.

  27. Case C-168/00, Simone Leitner, para. 21: “It is not in dispute that, in the field of package holidays, the existence in some Member States but not in others of an obligation to provide compensation for non-material damage would cause significant distortions of competition, given that, as the Commission has pointed out, non-material damage is a frequent occurrence in that field.” (Emphasis added.)

  28. Tobacco Advertising I, para. 108.

  29. In other countries of the EU (such as France, Belgium, and Italy) the relevant stakeholders – representatives of news publishers and Google – have concluded agreements that can presumably accommodate both parties’ interests. On these agreements, see Rosati (2016).

  30. Podszun (2013), p. 260.

  31. Computer & Communications Industry Association (2015).

  32. European Copyright Society (2016).

  33. European Copyright Society, op. cit.; Computer & Communications Industry Association, op. cit.; Kucharczyk (2015).

  34. European Copyright Society, op. cit.; Computer & Communications Industry Association, op. cit.

  35. Spindler and Schuster (2015), pp. 2351–2360.

  36. Xalabarder (2014).

  37. As reported in: http://googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.nl/2014/12/an-update-on-google-news-in-spain.html.

  38. Posada de la Concha et al. (2015).

  39. Ibid., at pp. 53–55.

  40. D. Forcada, “Cebrian dinamita el ‘lobby’ de la prensa al renunciar en solitario a la ‘tasa Google’”, in: “El Confidencial”, available at: http://www.elconfidencial.com/comunicacion/2015-07-07/cebrian-dinamita-la-aede-al-renunciar-en-solitario-a-cobrar-la-tasa-google_916201/ (accessed 26 August 2016).

  41. This is also recognised by the Commission in the Impact Assessment (supra note 2), although in the context of justifying how the current legal framework is a source of legal uncertainty. See Impact Assessment, p. 160: “None of these two ‘ancillary rights’ solutions at national level have proven effective to address publishers’ problems so far, in particular as they have not resulted in increased revenues for publishers”.

  42. Proposal for a Directive (supra note 2), at p. 5: “Online distribution of copyright-protected content is by essence cross-border.”

  43. See, with regard to the book market, Kurschus (2015), p. 28; and in relation to the news publishing market, data in Newman et al. (2016).

  44. Psychogiopoulou (2013), pp. 89–90, 95.

  45. Media Group Turku School of Economics & Rightscom Ltd (2005).

  46. N. Newman et al, op. cit.

  47. S. Athey and M. Mobius, “The impact of news aggregators on Internet news consumption: the case of localization”, Working Paper (February 2012), p. 4 et seq., available at: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/working-papers/impact-news-aggregators-internet-news-consumption-case-localization.

  48. Impact Assessment (supra note 2), at p. 161.

  49. Proposal available at: https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dokument.wxe?Abfrage=Begut&Dokumentnummer=BEGUT_COO_2026_100_2_1102902 (accessed 26 August 2016).

  50. Rauer (2015).

  51. See e.g. the inquiry by MP Niko Alm at: http://offenesparlament.at/gesetze/XXV/J_06327/.

  52. Rosati (2016).

  53. In France, the minister said that if they did not reach consensus then they would consider legislative intervention, reinforcing this “either/or” scenario – see E. Rosati, op. cit.

  54. Although possibly Art. 118 TFEU would be more adequate, as argued above in section 2.

  55. Hugenholtz (2009a), p. 307 et seq.

  56. See Impact Assessment (supra note 2), at p. 160.

  57. It is the case, for example, of the sui generis right for database makers. The Commission acknowledged that the economic effect of the sui generis right is unproven, and that its provisions have caused “considerable legal uncertainty” (see First evaluation of Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases, from 12 December 2005, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/copyright/docs/databases/evaluation_report_en.pdf (accessed 12 September 2016). See also Hugenholtz (2009b), p. 299, making the point that introducing new rights has a “negative effect on legal certainty in the Member States”.

  58. A. Ramalho, op. cit.

  59. Wyatt (2009), p. 120.

  60. D. Wyatt, op. cit., makes this point in relation to internal market objectives and public health objectives.

  61. Barber (2005), pp. 311–312.

  62. Ibid.

  63. A. Ramalho, op. cit. See also Art. 2 of Protocol No. 2 to the Treaties on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

  64. Groussot and Bogojević (2014), pp. 242–243.

  65. Communication from the Commission on Impact Assessment, COM(2002)276 final, 5 June 2002, p. 14.

  66. See inter alia case C-331/88, Fedesa, para. 13, and case C-210/00, Käserei Champignon Hofmeister, paras. 59–67. For a detailed explanation of the factors, see Groussot (2006), pp. 146–152; Jans (2000), p. 240 et seq., and references therein.

  67. Alexy (2010), p. 398.

  68. de Búrca (1993) p. 113 et seq.; J.H. Jans, op. cit., at p. 240 et seq.; Groussot, op. cit., at p. 146 et seq.

  69. Case C-58/08, Vodafone, para. 53.

  70. Ibid.

  71. Communication from the Commission on Impact Assessment, at 14.

  72. Ibid.

  73. Proposal for a Directive (supra note 2), at p. 5.

  74. See Communication (supra note 2), at p. 7.

  75. See Impact Assessment (supra note 2), at p. 167.

  76. See the proportionality assessment in the Commission’s Proposal (supra note 2), at p. 5.

  77. Möllers (2010), p. 189.

  78. Ramalho (2016), p. 83 et seq.

  79. Millet (2014), pp. 262–264.

  80. Guastaferro (2012), p. 263.

  81. Geiger (2009), p. 38.

  82. This follows from the principle of indivisibility of fundamental rights, according to which all fundamental rights are of equal ranking, interdependent and interrelated – cf. the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (1993), point 5.

  83. de Vries (2006), p. 18 et seq.

  84. For a more thorough explanation of these integration clauses, see A. Ramalho, “Conceptualising the European Union’s competence in copyright – what can the EU do?”, op. cit., at p. 192 et seq.

  85. See, for an analysis of this effect in relation to Spain, P. Posada de la Concha, A. Gutiérrez Garcia and H. Hernández Cobos, op. cit., at p. 42 et seq.

  86. The Commission considered launching a structured dialogue between press publishers and online service providers, and fostering discussions to identify common solutions, but this option was discarded (see Impact Assessment, supra note 2, at p. 161 et seq.).

References

  • Alexy R (2010) A theory of constitutional rights. OUP, Oxford, p 398

    Google Scholar 

  • Barber NW (2005) The limited modesty of subsidiarity. Eur Law J 11(3):311–312

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Computer & Communications Industry Association (2015) Understanding ‘ancillary copyright’ in the global intellectual property environment (white paper), p 2. http://www.ccianet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/CCIA-Understanding-Ancillary-Copyright.pdf. Accessed 12 Sept 2016

  • de Búrca G (1993) The Principle of Proportionality and its Application in EC Law. Yearb of Eur Law 13(1):105–150

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • de Vries SA (2006) Tensions within the internal market: the functioning of the internal market and the development of horizontal and flanking policies. Europa Law Publishing, Cheltenham, p 18

    Google Scholar 

  • European Copyright Society (2016) Answer to the EC Consultation on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain, p 5. http://ivir00.websites.xs4all.nl/wp-content/uploads/2000/05/235-1-1.pdf. Accessed 24 Aug 2016

  • Geiger C (2009) Copyright’s fundamental rights dimension at EU level. In: Derclaye E (ed) Research handbook on the future of EU copyright. Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, p 38

    Google Scholar 

  • Groussot X (2006) General principles of community law. Europa Law Publishing, Groningen, pp 146–152

    Google Scholar 

  • Groussot X, Bogojević S (2014) Subsidiarity as a procedural safeguard of federalism. In: Azoulai L (ed) The question of competence in the European Union. OUP, Oxford, pp 242–243

    Google Scholar 

  • Guastaferro B (2012) Beyond the exceptionalism of constitutional conflicts: the ordinary functions of the identity clause. Yearb Eur Law 31(1):263–318

  • Hugenholtz PB (2009a) The last frontier: territoriality. In: van Eechoud M et al (eds) Harmonizing European copyright law. The challenges of better lawmaking. Kluwer Law International, Dordrecht, p 307

    Google Scholar 

  • Hugenholtz PB (2009b) The blessing and curses of harmonization. In: van Eechoud M et al (eds) Harmonizing European copyright law. The challenges of better lawmaking. Kluwer Law International, Dordrecht, p 299

    Google Scholar 

  • Jans JH (2000) Proportionality revisited. Legal Issues Econ Integr 27(3):240

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kucharczyk J (2015) A ‘legal’ snippet in Germany could mean … seven words, maximum. http://www.project-disco.org/intellectual-property/102715-a-legal-snippet-in-germany-could-mean-seven-words-maximum/#.V72drqKx649. Accessed 24 Aug 2016

  • Kurschus S (2015) European book cultures. Diversity as a challenge. Springer, Berlin, p 28

    Google Scholar 

  • Lohse EJ (2011) The meaning of harmonization in the context of european union law—a process in need of definition. In: Andenas M, Andersen CB (eds) Theory and practice of harmonisation. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 288–289

    Google Scholar 

  • Media Group Turku School of Economics & Rightscom Ltd (2005) Publishing market watch, p 62. http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/media_taskforce/doc/pmw_20050127.pdf

  • Millet FX (2014) The respect for national constitutional identity in the European legal space. In: Azoulai L (ed) The question of competence in the European Union. OUP, Oxford, pp 262–264

    Google Scholar 

  • Möllers C (2010) Pouvoir Constituant-Constitution-Constitutionalisation. In: von Bogdandy A, Bast J (eds) Principles of European constitutional law. Hart, Oxford, p 189

    Google Scholar 

  • Newman N et al (2016) Reuters digital news report 2016. http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Digital-News-Report-2016.pdf. Accessed 12 Sept 2016

  • Podszun R (2013) Searching the future of newspapers: with a little help from Google and IP law? Int Rev Intellect Prop Compet Law 44(3):260

    Google Scholar 

  • Posada de la Concha P, Gutiérrez Garcia A, Hernández Cobos H (2015) Impacto del nuevo Artículo 32.2 de la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual, pp 42–43. http://www.aeepp.com/pdf/InformeNera.pdf. Accessed 24 Aug 2016

  • Psychogiopoulou E (2013) State aid to the press in the EU: legal issues and trends. In: Murschetz P (ed) State aid for newspapers. Theories, cases, actions. Springer, Berlin, pp 89–90, 95

  • Ramalho A (2014) Conceptualising the European Union’s competence in copyright—what can the EU do? Int Rev Intellect Prop Compet Law 45(2):178, 183

  • Ramalho A (2016) The competence of the European Union in copyright lawmaking. In: A normative perspective of EU powers for copyright harmonisation Springer, Switzerland, p. 83

  • Rauer N (2015) Austrian copyright reform: no ancillary copyright for publishers. http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=6dbc1b40-8315-4ac9-b122-b3d0523da0ad. Accessed 24 Aug 2016

  • Rosati E (2016) Neighbouring rights for publishers: are national and (possible) EU initiatives lawful?, pp 4–5. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2798628. Accessed 24 Aug 2016

  • Schütze R (2014) Limits to the Union’s ‘internal market’ competence. In: Azoulai L (ed) The question of competence in the European Union. OUP, Oxford, p 228

    Google Scholar 

  • Spindler G, Schuster F (2015) Recht der elektronischen Medien. C.H. Beck, Munich, pp 2351–2360

    Google Scholar 

  • Wyatt D (2009) Community competence to regulate the internal market. In: Dougan M, Currie S (eds) 50 years of European treaties. Hart, Oxford, p 120

    Google Scholar 

  • Xalabarder R (2014) The remunerated statutory limitation for news aggregation and search engines proposed by the Spanish government; its compliance with international and EU law, p 7. http://infojustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/xalabarder.pdf. Accessed 24 Aug 2014

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ana Ramalho.

Additional information

This paper presents independent research funded by Digital Europe. The views expressed herein are solely those of the author.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ramalho, A. Beyond the Cover Story – An Enquiry into the EU Competence to Introduce a Right for Publishers. IIC 48, 71–91 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40319-016-0540-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40319-016-0540-3

Keywords

  • Copyright
  • European Union
  • Lawmaking
  • Publishers
  • Ancillary copyright
  • Neighbouring rights