EU Copyright Directive: We need to tame the Wild West of online activity

There has been some misplaced outcry around the European Parliament's vote to adopt the EU Copyright Directive last week.

The Directive is good news for everyone in the business of creating or consuming content, argues David Dinsmore
The Directive is good news for everyone in the business of creating or consuming content, argues David Dinsmore

Far from stifling creativity, the sensible and pragmatic measures contained within the Directive, including the ‘Publisher’s Right’, seek to protect content creators from having their work freely used on the internet without the requisite permissions.

By enabling content creators - such as news media publishers - to better protect the value of their work online, much needed revenue will flow towards them.

Britain needs a vibrant creative sector that is incentivised to invest in original, high-quality content. The news industry is a vital part of that. Copyright means more investment in music, writing, journalism, animation and the arts.

No-one in the music industry mourns the death of Napster as artists are now able to reap financial rewards from a model that allows them to be paid for what they create.

The principles are the same here and the Publisher’s Right is good news for everyone in the business of creating or consuming content.

The PR industry will also benefit from their significant contribution and PR practitioners will know the benefits of dealing with a professional news media versus the dross that is impossible to interact with online.

This Directive goes some way to ensuring there is a future for professional journalism and their outlets.

The measures in the Copyright Directive have been misrepresented by those who will need to adapt their businesses to ensure that copyright is now protected.

The Wild West of online activity is being tamed and platforms that take no responsibility for what they publish will now have to put measures in place. This is long overdue.

The so-called ‘link tax’ is nothing of the sort. The Publisher's Right explicitly does not prevent acts of hyperlinking, and will not affect internet freedom.

Individuals will not be prevented from linking to social media, either via apps or via email.

Indeed, it is in publishers’ interests for readers to recommend their content and share it with family and friends.

Aggregators would be free to continue to serve links to their users, along with individual words or very short extracts.

And, if they want more, they are free to do a licencing deal with the content creators; hardly a draconian change that’s going to break the internet.

By enabling content creators to better protect their work from being exploited online, the Publisher’s Right will increase and enrich our creative output, not diminish it.

Now it is time for the creative sector to come together to urge the UK Government to adopt the proposals as soon as possible.

Brexit may rumble on, creating continued uncertainty, but that should not get in the way of ensuring that the UK’s copyright laws are made fit for the digital age.

It will be good news for everyone who values the UK’s place as a world leader in the creative industries.

David Dinsmore is chairman of the News Media Association

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