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Not so long ago I asked in this blog: “Is Google News Piracy?” when the European Publisher Council (EPC) as well as the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and many of their member organizations signed the “Hamburg Declaration on Intellectual Property Rights” (see list of signatories), which bemoans too little protection and compensation of online content.

Several months of lobbying from major media corporations such as the Axel Springer AG (publisher of the largest German boulevard paper “Bild“) or Burda and one federal election later, Germany seems to end up answering this question with “yes”. The new conservative German government plans to quickly introduce a new ancillary copyright bill, which shall protect publishers of being “expropriated” by new online news services, as Hubert Burda put it (German). According to Christoph Keese, chief lobbyist of Axel Springer, and Christoph Fiedler from VDZ, the umbrella organisation of German Magazine Publishers, this new legislation shall eventually lead to the formation of a new copyright collective for publishers and journalists (see the German video of a recent debate in Berlin).

As only little is known so far about the details in the upcoming bill, speculations regarding potential consequences of such an ancillary copyright spread. The Austrian IT-news portal futurezone, for example, paints the picture of upcoming “linking crimes” (“Link-Verbrechen”) and fears “worsenings for researchers, bloggers and journalists.” And while it seems pretty clear that publishing houses will profit most from the new ancillary copyright, the question “who pays the bill?” is still open for debate.

But the best summary of the current situation is again – for another example, see “Google Books and the Kindle Controversy” – provided by Scott Adam’s Dilbert, who needs only three small boxes to tell more than my entire description above did:

Dilbert.com

[update:]

Very interesting in this regard is a plenary session at the “Monaco Media Forum” featuring Arianna Huffington, founder of the news website Huffington Post, and Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the German Axel Springer AG:

Especially interesting is the part after about 17 minutes when Döpfner starts talking about “web communism”:

“I think this theory that only a free access to information is, I have to admit, one of the most absurd theories that I have heard. It is a very late ideological outcome of web communists.”

At this point Arianna Huffington jumps in with the question:

“Is Chris Anderson in the room?”

His book is called “Free. The Economics of Abundance and Why Zero Pricing Is Changing the Face of Business”. It is available for free online, as a PDF as well as an audio book (285MB).

(leonhard)

Interestingly enough, two of the most visible current copyright related conflicts are in the realm of the most classic of all copyrighted media: books. On the one hand, Google books tries to digitize and eventually offer online nothing less then all books ever published. Aside the fundamental question, whether companies should be allowed doing this, the main controversy is around how to compensate authors and publishers of books that are out of stock and of orphan works (see “Google vs. Copyright Collectives“). On the other hand, the book as a medium itself may be changed by e-book reader such as Sony’s “Daily Edition” or Amazon’s “Kindle” (see “Sony’s E-Reader vs. Kindle“). Both allow direct wireless download of books directly to the reader via mobile phone networks. The latter raises a lot of controversy because of its restrictive digital rights management (“Kindle Controvery Continued: ‘Exit’ and ‘Voice’“) and Amazon’s ability to delete books from the reader even after their purchase (see NYT).

In spite of their common field of digital books and publishing, these two controversies evolved relatively independent from one another until very recently Amazon, Yahoo and Microsoft formed the “Open Book Alliance” (see CNET) to counter Google Books. Googles rejoinder was an alliance with Sony (see CBC). This merger of conflicts will, I predict, alter the dynamics in both controversies. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
September 2019
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