Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Copyright, Copywrong

Some notes from this week's Business over Tapas*:

No one seems quite sure what the new 'Ley de la Propiedad Intelectual' could mean for the Internet in Spain. Heavy control and censorship? Perhaps. The idea in the proposed rule is to charge 'aggregators' who supply links to news stories, sites like Google News and Menéame, and share part of the spoils with the AEDE, the Spanish Daily Press Association. But how far will this go? To the television guide? To Business over Tapas? Here, we could continue, with a summary but without supplying links (that's to say, to the Spanish media, not the foreign ones). Or perhaps link without quotes. Or plagiarise (by not supplying the link, so easy). Or then again, pack the dog and move next door to Portugal. Either way, we would lose some stories as they passed 'under the radar'. Perhaps some news outlets would indeed prefer to allow linkage while others will want to charge locally-based reportage (although the law, if passed, would be obligatory), but isn't it useful for the media to receive extra readership (and potential new fans) through precisely these introductions? In short, the whole idea sounds ill-thought out and silly, much like this Government.

A number of articles on the proposed news 'copy and link' law promoted by the 'Culture Minister' Ignacio Wert: 'Euphoria in the world of culture. Ecstasy in journalism. The crisis of the press – pillar of democracy, the rule of law and good manners at the dinner table – is finally holding a miracle cure. Several newspapers dedicate their front pages to this. We have saved ourselves. Or rather, the Government has saved us from... (music of terror) the piracy!'. From Guerra Eterna. The BBC notes simply that '...Websites can link to freely available content without the permission of the copyright holder, the European Court of Justice says...'. An interview with Internet expert Enrique Dans in La Información includes the gem: 'this Government is completely analfabeto (illiterate) when it comes to the Internet'. Lastly, El Mundo interviews Ricardo Galli, the head of Menéame, a Spanish version of Reddit: 'It will do a lot more damage to the newspapers than it will to us', he says.

Another aspect of the proposed LCI is to charge a canon of 5€ per university student for using technical publications on the Internet (ignoring, once again, the whole point of the Internet, which is that material posted there is freely available). Gizmodo en Español has an interview with Internet lawyer Javier de la Cueva discussing this subject.

'Things have been moving in newspaper circles recently, with the owners expelling their editors (El Mundo, La Vanguardia and now El País), even though these titles are all pro-system, in favour of new apparently more malleable editors. The newspapers themselves are becoming more pro-Government, softening their criticism and reporting Government activities in a more favourable light. The deal seems to be that the newspaper association AEDE can now look forward to becoming protected by the CEDRO (copyright for printed materials) in a way similar to the SGAE, charging and controlling usage under obligation. Will Twitter and Facebook have to pay up?' A Facebook Page here. Of course, many readers come to newspaper articles, directed precisely by aggregators. So, with this rule, readership would fall. 

*Goodness, will I be allowed to link to my own websites? 

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