Spanish publishers defend “collective management” of copyright against the new European directive | Culture

Google headquarters in Beijing.
Google headquarters in Beijing.ROMAN PILIPEY / EFE

An incessant trickle of claims begins to reach the Ministry of Culture, led by José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes. Associations of writers, editors and artists from various disciplines claim that their copyright be guaranteed once Spain adapts the new European directive on this matter to its legislation. At the moment, Ministry sources report, there is no exact date, although it will be before June 1 due to the deadlines established by the European Union when it approved this rule in 2019.

The Federation of Publishers Guilds of Spain (FGEE) has been the last to request the Government to “maintain the mandatory collective management of intellectual property rights” when the directive is applied. The publishers thus claim that these organizations remain as guarantors to “bring balance to the market and the necessary legal security.” The sector considers that it is “one of the great European conquests for the world of creation” with which it also guarantees “assistance coverage to thousands of authors”.

This demand comes after the SGAE joined last Friday to the request of the Conference of Associations of Writers and Writers of Spain, the Association of Information Media (AMI) and the Spanish copyright management entities gathered in Adepi to guarantee that their rights are “conveniently and equitably rewarded for the circulation and distribution of their work through digital networks, as opposed to purely commercial positions.”

“Authors are fundamental pieces in the exercise of creation, but also the most fragile of a chain that with the irruption of new technologies run a serious risk of being buried under the interests of large companies of the digital age,” said the SGAE.

These demands of the associations are related to article 15 of the directive. The text grants press editors the right to grant or not the approval of for-profit websites to share “significant fragments” of their publications. The legislator thus sought to respond to the complaints of the authors, outraged that their works reach more viewers and readers than ever, while the income is diverted to other pockets.

In the case of Spain, after the disappearance of Google News in 2014, other search engines have emerged, such as Google Discover, which adds and proposes various articles to users according to their tastes and their search history and interests. Last November Cedro, the copyright management entity of the publishing sector, filed a lawsuit against Google in which it demanded 1.1 million euros for an alleged non-payment of copyright. The agency considered that it was the money that Google Discover must give to authors and publishers for “the aggregation of news fragments from different digital editions of newspapers and other publications”, based on the Intellectual Property Law.

To date, these technology platforms relied on that they only had to react in the aftermath, when they were told that they were hosting unauthorized content. Now, according to the application of the European directive, they will have to demonstrate that they have made “the best efforts” to reach a pact, quickly prevent access to the works denounced and ensure that they are no longer available.

Likewise, article 17 urges the portals that store, organize and disseminate user content for commercial purposes to have a prior license from the creators of those works. In other words, that a video platform like YouTube, for example, is capable of eliminating content that is used without having the rights to it. A decision that has already provoked complaints from other sectors that consider this to be just the beginning of prior censorship on the Internet.