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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)

This post is provided by our first “guest blogger” Sebastian Botzem. He is research fellow at the department „Internationalization and Organization” at the Social Science Research Center (WZB) in Berlin.

Fair value accounting has been identified as one of the causes of the current global financial crisis (see, for example, on this blog “Fair Value Accounting in Retreat?“). While it would be unfair to bookkeepers, accountants, auditors and academics to make them solely responsible for the loss of wealth and jobs, the present twists and quirks with regard to accounting policy are remarkable and merit closer attention.

A good example to show that the logic of accounting is questioned is Germany’s “bad bank”  solution: In principle there seems to be agreement to clear balance sheets from heavily impaired assets in order to free up capital and cut the risk of further writedowns. How that should be done, however, remains a big question. One of the great unknowns is of course how to determine the price for the assets to be transferred. Also, it needs to be determined how and to which degree the German taxpayers are eventually being burdened with liabilities not just for years, but for decades. The legal construction is also interesting: Germany’s “bad banks” are supposed to be set up as Special Purpose Entities (SPE). Günther Merl, former speaker of Germany’s public banking rescue fund Soffin (Sonderfonds Finanzmarktstabilisierung, in English: Financial Market Stabilization Fund), has just argued in the German quality daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that the government should exempt the proposed “bad banks” from the usual regulation that applies to financial institutions. The intention of such a move is to allow for accounting provisions that treat “bad banks” not as banks. The creation of Special Purpose Entities – one cause of much of the turmoil at financial markets – to rescue financial institutions indicates the dire straits market advocates are in. 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.
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