Corint Media offers Goog­le a licence agree­ment

Corint Media demands 420 mil­li­on euros for the use of press publishers’ rights in 2022 that belong to the press publishers they repre­sent.

Press Release
Ber­lin, 2021-10-20
Corint Media Mana­ging Direc­tors Chris­toph Schwennicke and Mar­kus Run­de

Corint Media, a Coll­ec­ti­ve Manage­ment Orga­niza­ti­on (CMO) that repres­ents the neigh­bou­ring rights of press publishers, has sub­mit­ted a licence agree­ment to Goog­le. This is for the use of press con­tent such as head­lines, short artic­le excerp­ts and pre­view images in its search engi­ne, so Corint Media is curr­ent­ly deman­ding a licence fee of 420 mil­li­on euros for 2022 on behalf of near­ly 200 copy­right hol­ders. This cal­cu­la­ti­on is based on the nor­mal remu­ne­ra­ti­on rate appli­ed to the rele­vant tur­no­ver of the uti­li­sing com­pa­ny in the par­ti­cu­lar mar­ket — in this case Goog­le in Ger­ma­ny. The arbi­tra­ti­on board at the Ger­man Patent and Trade Mark Office, which is respon­si­ble for asses­sing tariff and remu­ne­ra­ti­on issues, had alre­a­dy asses­sed a royal­ty rate of up to 11% on the rele­vant tur­no­ver for the enti­re reper­toire as being basi­cal­ly appro­pria­te. This per­cen­ta­ge has been redu­ced accor­din­gly as Corint Media curr­ent­ly admi­nis­ters the rights of appro­xi­m­ate­ly 200 digi­tal press publi­ca­ti­ons in the Ger­man mar­ket. The sales reve­nues Goog­le gene­ra­ted from run­ning their search engi­ne in Ger­ma­ny are esti­ma­ted to be around 9 bil­li­on euros in 2020.

Accor­ding to the pay­ments or claims for the use of press con­tent that have beco­me known in other mar­kets, i.e. Aus­tra­lia around 100 mil­li­on euros and Cana­da around 400 mil­li­on euros, the sum being deman­ded is in per­spec­ti­ve with regard to international com­pa­ri­sons. The anti­trust aut­ho­ri­ty in France recent­ly orde­red Goog­le to pay 500 mil­li­on euros. Con­tra­ry to an offi­ci­al order, the com­pa­ny had not nego­tia­ted con­s­truc­tively with the press publishers about the remu­ne­ra­ti­on for the French press ancil­la­ry rights, which, like in Ger­ma­ny, is based on the EU copy­right direc­ti­ve.

The online web­site of a medi­um-sized natio­nal news­pa­per that gene­ra­tes around 30 mil­li­on visits per month would also gene­ra­te reve­nues of about 15 mil­li­on euros per year after this licen­sing. The reve­nue could be fur­ther increased by con­clu­ding addi­tio­nal licen­sing agree­ments. Corint Media has cal­led on Face­book to open nego­tia­ti­ons regar­ding this and is alre­a­dy in talks with Micro­soft and other users.

Prof. Nor­bert Flech­sig, copy­right scho­lar and co-aut­hor of num­e­rous com­men­ta­ries about copy­right law has said:“The demand for ade­qua­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on for copy­right hol­ders for online use is struc­tu­ral­ly not a new case for copy­right scho­lars. If aut­hors in the book sec­tor recei­ve at least 15% of the coun­ter sales pri­ce as a regu­lar royal­ty pay­ment, then 11% of Google’s sales can only be descri­bed as the lower limit of an appro­pria­te pay­ment for all Ger­man press publishers. Final­ly, the edi­to­ri­al work pro­tec­ted by copy­right and ancil­la­ry rights is included in this remu­ne­ra­ti­on cla­im, becau­se the­se very edi­tors must be pro­por­tio­na­te­ly remu­ne­ra­ted for this work. Only with such an appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on will con­trac­tu­al pari­ty appear to exist, which the Ger­man legis­la­tor did not want to over­ri­de in the rela­ti­onship bet­ween press publishers and search engi­ne ope­ra­tors”. (See below for a detail­ed quo­ta­ti­on.)

Axel Voss MEP, the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve for the EU copy­right direc­ti­ve said: “All of the publishers must bene­fit from the press ancil­la­ry rights as this is the inten­ti­on of the Euro­pean legis­la­tors. The inco­me is inten­ded to secu­re the publishers and diver­si­ty of opi­ni­on as well the diver­si­ty of the press and it should also gua­ran­tee par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on by jour­na­lists. Any attempt to cir­cum­vent this robust right is con­tra­ry to the pur­po­se of the regu­la­ti­on and it must be rejec­ted”.

Mar­kus Run­de and Chris­toph Schwennicke, mana­ging direc­tors at Corint Media: “With this offer, the nego­tia­ti­ons with the lar­gest plat­form that uses press con­tent are now ente­ring the decisi­ve pha­se. The law is the­re, it has been legi­ti­mi­sed by Euro­pe and it is appro­ved bey­ond the EU. It’s now a mat­ter of quick­ly set­ting a pri­ce that is very trans­pa­rent and does jus­ti­ce to the importance of the enti­re press on the inter­net“.

About Prof. Flech­sig:
Prof. Nor­bert P. Flech­sig is a copy­right scho­lar and hono­ra­ry pro­fes­sor at the Law Facul­ty of the Eber­hard-Karls Uni­ver­si­ty in Tübin­gen. Flech­sig was a lec­tu­rer at the uni­ver­si­ties of Tübin­gen, Stutt­gart, Lud­wigs­burg and Ravens­burg-Wein­gar­ten and this included lec­tu­ring on copy­right law. As a scho­lar, he is one of the aut­hors of the “Hand­buch des Urhe­ber­rechts” (Hand­book of Copy­right Law) and “Beck’scher Kom­men­tar zum Rund­funk­recht” (Beck’s Com­men­ta­ry on Broad­cas­ting Law), both stan­dard works in their respec­ti­ve fields. Flech­sig has spo­ken about the deman­ded remu­ne­ra­ti­on rate:

“The demand for appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on of copy­right hol­ders with the advent of the inter­net — espe­ci­al­ly in this case, remu­ne­ra­ti­on for the abso­lu­te, exclu­si­ve ancil­la­ry rights belon­ging to a press publisher that makes his press publi­ca­ti­on publicly acces­si­ble when it is repro­du­ced in who­le or in part for online use by pro­vi­ders of social infor­ma­ti­on ser­vices, i.e. by search engi­nes, is struc­tu­ral­ly not a new case for copy­right scho­lars. Lite­ra­tu­re and case law have been deal­ing with this issue for over 100 years. If aut­hors in the book sec­tor recei­ve at least 15% of the coun­ter sales pri­ce as a regu­lar royal­ty pay­ment, then 11% of the reve­nue gene­ra­ted by search engi­ne ope­ra­tors from their ope­ra­ti­ons in Ger­ma­ny should be award­ed to all of the Ger­man press publishers as their edi­to­ri­al work is pro­tec­ted by copy­right and ancil­la­ry rights and this must be included in this remu­ne­ra­ti­on entit­le­ment that still has to be deter­mi­ned, becau­se the­se edi­tors must be remu­ne­ra­ted pro­por­tio­na­te­ly for their work (Sec­tion 87k of the Ger­man Copy­right Act) and this per­cen­ta­ge can only be descri­bed as the lower limit of an appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on. Only with such an appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on will con­trac­tu­al pari­ty appear to exist, which is what the legis­la­tor wants to estab­lish in the rela­ti­onship bet­ween press publishers and search engi­ne ope­ra­tors. If one assu­mes that Google’s esti­ma­ted 2020 reve­nue in Ger­ma­ny was 9 bil­li­on euros, then the assu­med licence sum will be 990 mil­li­on euros p.a. for all natio­nal press publishers and edi­tors, i.e. all of the rele­vant copy­right hol­ders in Ger­ma­ny, seems rather small in view of this exor­bi­tant reve­nue gene­ra­ted in our coun­try. If one of the main tasks of the coll­ec­ting socie­ties is to demand appro­pria­te remu­ne­ra­ti­on from tho­se lia­ble to pay remu­ne­ra­ti­on and to pass it on to the copy­right hol­ders that they repre­sent, then this remu­ne­ra­ti­on cla­im against the search engi­ne ope­ra­tors must not fall behind other remu­ne­ra­ti­on claims, such as tho­se for reprin­ting press reviews, late reports, repro­du­cing writ­ten works, other ope­ra­tor remu­ne­ra­ti­on or the device remu­ne­ra­ti­on — and this cla­im must not be unre­ason­ab­ly delay­ed”.

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