eco: European Court of Justice Issues a Rebuff to German Ancillary Copyright Law

With today’s decision, the European Court of Justice (EUCJ) has declared German ancillary copyright law for press publishers to be inapplicable. The Court thus endorsed the opinion of the Advocate General and drew a line under the years of debate and numerous court proceedings. According to the EUCJ, ancillary copyright law is a provision concerning an Information Society service and thus a “technical regulation”, the draft of which should have been subject to prior notification to the Commission.

From the very outset, eco has criticized German ancillary copyright law: “Introducing ancillary copyright in Germany was a misguided political decision. This law was a fiasco right from the start and led to nothing but upset, discord, and frustration on both sides. Nobody obtained any income on its basis – quite the opposite: the court proceedings and expert opinions generated immense costs for all parties concerned,” says eco Chair Oliver J. Süme. “Unfortunately, with the European Copyright Directive adopted in April, we are already facing the next painful chapter of ancillary copyright law, which will become a real threat to authors, companies, and Internet users in Europe.” Especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, the high investments and legal uncertainty threaten to bring about technical, economic, and legal problems.

On the basis of a position statement, eco – Association of the Internet Industry took part in the consultation on the implementation of the Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market on a national level and once again addressed the central aspects and points of criticism for the Internet industry, including the issue of ancillary copyright law for press publishers. While the position statement (in the German language) is targeted primarily at German policy-makers, its core messages have wider European resonance:

  • The mandatory use of upload filters must be prevented throughout Europe, on a standardized basis.
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises as well as start-ups need workable and far-sighted solutions that are in line with their interests.
  • The necessary legal certainty in the implementation of the Copyright Directive requires clear regulations, delimitations, and definitions within the law.
  • In the case of ancillary copyright law for press publishers, citations/extracts (snippets) should be of a sufficient length to continue to enable meaningful links to press publications. This would also contribute to counteracting the dissemination of fake news.
  • Mandatory standardized and machine-readable data on the publication date is required for online press releases.



eco comments on Decision on EU Copyright Law: “The Internet will be Filtered to Death”
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