Conference: Copyright, related rights and the news in the EU: Assessing potential new laws

CIPIL University of Cambridge, hosted at IViR University of Amsterdam, 23 April 2016.
University of Amsterdam, Agnietenkapel, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 229-231, 1012 EX Amsterdam, The Netherlands

See also full programme, speaker biographies and excerpts from relevant laws (hand-out for session 2)
Twitter hashtag: #copyrightandnews





The difficulties of commercial journalism
Like music and other branches of publishing, commercial news journalism has faced radical challenges over the last two decades. There is talk of the “death of the newspaper” and questions have been raised about the very future of journalism. While with music, books and films, the greatest threat to existing business models have been seen as the unauthorised and unremunerated home copying and peer-to-peer distribution, with commercial news journalism much of the challenge derives from the fact that advertising has not followed the shift of print-newspapers to the Internet. Such difficulties are compounded, from the point of view of news publishers, by the relatively free availability of news from other online sources. And they’ve been further compounded by the recent rise of social media, particularly Facebook, as a main route to the news.

Questions that arise
The EU Commission just launched a consultation on the introduction of neighbouring rights for publishers (also known as ‘ancillary right’, or in street language ‘Google tax’). Is there sufficient rationale to alter copyright or related laws in a way that benefits news publishers? Should commercial news publishers benefit from any change in the law, given that other means exist for gathering and disseminating news? How strong is an economic case for such a right? To what extent is any economic case for change supplemented by other arguments, such as reward and natural rights arguments, and arguments about media plurality? Should European law treat news publishers in a similar way to other content producers, such as phonogram producers and broadcasters, who benefit from a related right? Would individual journalists benefit from a right afforded to news publishers, and if so, to what extent? Should news publishers benefit from levies and compensation schemes designed to benefit author-journalists?

This one day conference at IViR  sought to address these questions. The conference was part of a two-year, AHRC funded project at CIPIL, Cambridge University, entitled Appraising Potential Legal Responses to Threats to the Production of  News in a Digital Environment, which the IViR kindly hosted and facilitated.

The conference brings together an interdisciplinary combination of academics and practitioners to discuss the issue. Representatives from news producing, publishing and disseminating organizations, both traditional and online, have been invited.


  • Søren Christian Søborg Andersen, attorney at Danish law firm Horten;
  • Chris Beall, accomplished trial attorney at US law firm LSKS LLP;
  • Professor Lionel Bently, Herchel Smith Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge;
  • Dr. Richard Danbury, research associate on the AHRC-funded project Appraising Potential Legal Responses to Threats to the Protection of News in a Digital Environment;
  • Professor Mireille van Eechoud, professor of Information Law and director of IViR’s LLM programme in Information Law;
  • Professor Dr. Michael Grünberger, LL.M. (NYU) holds the Chair of Civil, Commercial and Technology Law at the University of Bayreuth;
  • Professor Ian Hargreaves, professor of Digital Economy at Cardiff University;
  • Professor Dr. Jan Hegemann;
  • Professor Bernt Hugenholtz, professor of Intellectual Property Law and former director of IViR;
  • Andrew J. Hughes, International Director, NLA media access, speaking in a personal capacity;
  • Dr. Bertin Martens, senior economist and team leader for the Digital Economy research programme at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), speaking in a personal capacity;
  • James Mackenzie, one of the two co-founders of Cutbot, a media and public affairs monitoring company;
  • Professor John Naughton, senior research fellow in the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge;
  • Agustín Reyna, Senior Legal Officer and Digital Team Leader in BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation;
  • Matt Rogerson, head of Public Policy at Guardian News & Media;
  • Mark Seeley, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Elsevier;
  • Marietje Schaake, Member of the European Parliament for the Dutch Democratic Party with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe political group;
  • Professor Raquel Xalabarder, holds the Chair of Intellectual Property at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

See here for full speaker biographies.

Video recording of the conference under CC BY licence:

Session 1: Why are we here?
What problems face news publishers? Why is this important? Why might we expect a new European copyright or related law to help resolve them?
Professor Ian Hargreaves (University of Cardiff) chairs a panel discussing these issues, comprised of Dr Richard Danbury (University of Cambridge), Professor Dr Jan Hegemann (Raue LLP), Matt Rogerson (The Guardian), Andrew J. Hughes (NLA Media Access, speaking in a personal capacity) and Mark Seeley (RELX).

Slides for this session are available here.

Session 2: What went before?
What legal responses have there been in other countries, and what can be learnt from these about the prospects, requirements and effect of any new law?
Professor Bernt Hugenholtz (University of Amsterdam) chairs a panel discussing these issues, comprised of Professor Michael Grünberger (University Bäreuth), Professor Raquel Xalabarder (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), Søren Christian Søborg Andersen (Horten), and Chris Beall (LSKS Law).

Slides for this session:

Session 3: Could a new law help?
What is the economic evidence? What legal restraints would a new law have to observe? What political concerns are likely to be raised by a new law? Professor Lionel Bently (University of Cambridge), chairs a panel discussing these issues comprised of Bertin Martens (European Commission, speaking in a personal capacity), Professor Bernt Hugenholtz (University of Amsterdam), Marietje Schaake MEP.

Session 4: What else might a law do?
The effects on consumers, the internet, new entrants to the market, and freedom of expression. Professor Ian Hargreaves (University of Cardiff), chairs a panel discussing these issues comprised of Professor John Naughton (University of Cambrigde), Agustín Reyna (BEUC), James Mackenzie (Cutbot), Professor Mireille van Eechoud (University of Amsterdam).

For further information contact:
Dr Richard Danbury
Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law,
University of Cambridge