Today, 26 April, is World Intellectual Property Right Day, a celebration of creativity, invention and intellectual endeavour. This day recognises an established legal system designed to reward all the creators, designers and innovators who enrich our lives and contribute to global progress. IP is the backbone of creativity and provides individuals and companies with the confidence to invest, invent and create, in the knowledge that their endeavour will be protected at law and recognised as belonging to them so they can be paid when it is used and enjoyed by others.
We know how crucial IP is, because when it doesn’t work, it can be catastrophic for those who earn their living by creation and invention. When creative works and inventions are copied and monetised by others without permission, or when the designers whose clothes, handbags and jewellery are sold as fake goods, while countless musicians hear their melodies in other people’s compositions or their performances littering the large platforms without their permission this affects livelihoods. Every hour of every day journalistic content made available by the publishers is copied, distributed and monetised by companies who enjoy all the benefits without any of the cost or legal and moral responsibilities borne by the publisher. As a direct result of this failure of IP to work online in the new digital environment, too many journalists are losing their jobs while some publishers are closing their doors.
We are appealing to Members of the European Parliament and national governments to support the current EU proposal for copyright reform that would make it clear that publishers have the intellectual property rights over what they publish.
Publishers’ potential to invest in professional journalism and therefore maintain a trusted, free, independent and diverse press for Europe’s citizens, is currently undermined by an increasingly unbalanced digital ecosystem whereby publishers bear all the costs and responsibilities of producing professional online content, while other companies help themselves to it and reap the financial rewards. We all rely on our independent press, whether national or local, for news, special interest, professional content, entertainment and sport, to inform us and to hold those in power to account. Media diversity and democracy are under threat.
Publishers are alarmed that, in her draft report, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for copyright reform has deleted the Press Publisher’s Right in Article 11, proposing in its place an entirely unworkable approach, bringing much uncertainty to Europe’s press publishers and journalists alike.
On World Intellectual Property Right Day, please celebrate the invaluable contribution of Europe’s creators but also consider what you yourself can do to guarantee the future of professional journalism and a free, diverse press in Europe. As Gerald Grünberger, Managing Director of VÖZ in Austria says, “Whoever wants to live in a functional and democratic Europe in the digital age has to make a strong contribution to the protection of expensive quality content.”
We hope that our message today will make a valuable contribution to the political debate on our sector, and that, if you are committed to a democratic Europe with an independent and pluralistic media landscape, you will feel inspired to get involved with our initiative, www.empower-democracy.eu.