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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