The Council of Ministers has approved this Tuesday a Royal Decree-Law to adapt the Spanish legislation to the European Copyright Directive of 2019, a mandate in which the Executive was against the clock after the end of the legal deadline last June 7. The final text will appear in the coming days in the BOE (predictably this Wednesday) and will include several amendments to the Intellectual Property Law, although the first that the Government has communicated is the death certificate of the AEDE canon approved by the Government of Mariano Rajoy.
The Ministry of Culture has announced that it will eliminate the obligation for the media to negotiate collectively with the digital platforms that use their content. This was the handle that kept alive the canon, devised in 2014 by the PP government and large print publishers with the aim of charging Google for linking news, but never took off due to the refusal of the search engine to accept its conditions.
The AEDE royalty imposed that the media collect their royalties through a collecting society, an ‘SGAE of the press’ called CEDRO. With the reform will be given “the option and freedom to each editor” to manage their copyrights, “either individually, through direct negotiation with digital content aggregators, or through a collective management entity on a voluntary basis, not mandatory,” Culture has reported in a statement.
The imposition of CEDRO as an intermediary caused Google to remove its News service from Spain, so that the AEDE canon was in practice a failed rate. Since 2014 it has collected 200,000 euros in total to be distributed among all publishers. The possibility of publishers reaching individual agreements opens the door to the return of Google News.
“According to initial reports, the ideal conditions seem to be in place for a potential launch of Google News in Spain. However, we need time to analyze in detail the new law, we will soon make decisions about our next steps,” said a spokeswoman for the multinational in a statement sent to elDiario.es.
The conditions seem to be right for a potential launch of Google News in Spain
Both Google and Meta (formerly known as Facebook) are reaching agreements with European press publishers to remunerate them for the use of their articles through the basis offered by the directive. A spokeswoman for Meta said that the multinational is “reviewing today’s decree and, while it is premature to comment on the outcome of this legislation, we remain fully supportive of the aims of the European Copyright Directive”.
Digital native media have applauded the Government’s move, considering it “a change of enormous relevance for the future of the publishing sector and its relationship with digital platforms, search engines and content aggregators”. “We are satisfied because media publishers have recovered the reins of the management of our rights, kidnapped a few years ago by a law that we always considered unfair and harmful,” said Arsenio Escolar, president of the employers CLABE, the largest by number of business groups attached and headers of newspapers and digital magazines represented.
The Association of Media Information (formerly known as AEDE, whose requests to the Government of Rajoy ended up giving its unofficial name to the fee) has preferred not to make statements as it does not have the final text of the Decree-Law.
The transposition of the European directive has been delayed in almost all European countries due to one of the most criticized aspects of the rule, the automatic content filters. These are algorithms whose mission would be to monitor everything that is uploaded to the Internet and to block anything that violates copyright. The warning from technologists and experts is that this technology is not mature enough to recognize uses tolerated by law, such as parody or criticism.
Only 4 of the 27 member states did so within the two-year deadline given by the EU, forcing the European Commission to publish “guidelines” to clarify how the adaptation should be done. In Spain, after more than a year of public consultation, the former Minister of Culture José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes left office without presenting a proposal for transposition.
The statement issued Tuesday by Culture gives no clues as to what interpretation the government has made of the European directive regarding content filters. The digital rights organizations that criticized the directive ask to wait for the final text of the Royal Decree-Law and its significance for Spanish law before taking a position. However, they have criticized the use of this figure to transpose the directive as it skips part of the parliamentary negotiation and does not allow these organizations to participate in the debate.