First Decisi­on on Ancil­la­ry Copy­rights for Press Publis­hers

Ancil­la­ry copy­right for press publis­hers is app­li­ca­ble to Goog­le

Press Release
Ber­lin, 2015-09-24

The ancil­la­ry copy­right for press publis­hers is app­li­ca­ble to the form of pre­sen­ta­ti­on cho­sen by Goog­le (and other search engi­nes and news aggre­ga­tors) to dis­play search results. This was deci­ded by the Arbi­tra­ti­on Board of the Ger­man Patent and Tra­de Mark Office as the spe­cial aut­ho­ri­ty respon­si­ble for this issue on 24 Sep­tem­ber 2015.The Arbi­tra­ti­on Board sta­ted in its decisi­on that Goog­le makes use of the digi­tal pro­ducts of press publis­hers in its ser­vices, noting that “press pro­ducts incre­a­se the over­all adver­ti­sing value and attrac­ti­ve­ness of the search engi­ne”. In the pro­cee­dings of VG Media ver­sus the search engi­ne ope­ra­tor and qua­si-mono­po­list Goog­le, it was cla­ri­fied that the tariff estab­lis­hed by VG Media is app­li­ca­ble in princip­le. Howe­ver, in order to deter­mi­ne the details of the tariff, VG Media is depen­dent on data which only Goog­le has avail­ab­le, accord­ing to the Arbi­tra­ti­on Board. Thus, the ancil­la­ry copy­right for press publis­hers is not only enfor­ced in the first step, but Goog­le is obli­ged to pay remu­ne­ra­ti­on to press publis­hers. Jour­na­lists will also bene­fit in the form of a remu­ne­ra­ti­on claim ancho­red in the law.

Mar­kus Run­de, Mana­ging Direc­tor of VG Media: “The ancil­la­ry copy­right for press publis­hers is app­li­ca­ble. Wit­hin the mea­ning of copy­right law, Goog­le makes use of press pro­ducts in the various Goog­le sur­faces. Important issu­es have thus been resol­ved by the com­pe­tent Arbi­tra­ti­on Board. Com­pa­nies such as Goog­le that gene­ra­te up to €5 bil­li­on in reve­nues per year in Ger­ma­ny by ope­ra­ting a search engi­ne should not only take advan­ta­ge of the free and order­ly eco­no­mic acti­vi­ty in Ger­ma­ny, but should also accept the enfor­ce­ment of Ger­man law as an essen­ti­al con­di­ti­on of this free­dom, and should the­re­fo­re now seek a com­pro­mi­se agree­ment with us, as pro­po­sed by the Arbi­tra­ti­on Board.

Maren Ruh­fus, Mana­ging Direc­tor of VG Media, adds: “The decisi­on of the Arbi­tra­ti­on Board pro­vi­des valu­able insights for the intro­duc­tion of an ancil­la­ry copy­right for press publis­hers throughout Euro­pe. VG Media will fol­low the Euro­pean Commission’s invi­ta­ti­on and will actively con­tri­bu­te its know how and expe­ri­ence from this case to the poli­ti­cal deba­te at the Euro­pean level.

Through VG Media, press publis­hers will also enfor­ce their claims against Goog­le for the peri­od as of 23 Octo­ber 2014. The decla­ra­ti­ons of a free-of-char­ge con­sent and the decisi­on of the Ger­man Federal Car­tel Office pur­suant to Sec­tion 32c of the Act against Restraints of Com­pe­ti­ti­on (GWB) do not stand in the way of this. Goog­le abu­sed its domi­nant mar­ket posi­ti­on to for­ce press publis­hers to give their free con­sent. The­se decla­ra­ti­ons of con­sent are the­re­fo­re ille­gal under com­pe­ti­ti­on law and thus inva­lid. Nume­rous press publis­hers alrea­dy insti­tu­ted legal pro­cee­dings against Goog­le at the Ber­lin Regio­nal Court in Decem­ber 2014 to cla­ri­fy this ques­ti­on. The ancil­la­ry copy­right for press publis­hers was pas­sed by the Ger­man Bun­des­tag in 2013 and ent­e­red into for­ce on 1 August 2013. It sta­tes that search engi­nes and news aggre­ga­tors must pay remu­ne­ra­ti­on to press publis­hers for the use of press pro­ducts. Goog­le (and other search engi­nes) had pre­vious­ly denied the app­li­ca­bi­li­ty of the law vis-à-vis VG Media, which is man­da­ted to enfor­ce the ancil­la­ry copy­right for a lar­ge num­ber of press publis­hers.

For more infor­ma­ti­on on the ancil­la­ry copy­right for press publis­hers, the tariff of VG Media and the pro­cee­dings to enfor­ce the law, see, the infor­ma­ti­on ser­vice of the VG Media press publis­hers for the pro­tec­tion of pro­per­ty and diver­si­ty in digi­tal media mar­kets.

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