French parliament adopts copyright reform after EU law

A general view of French Parliament during a session. [EPA-EFE/JULIEN DE ROSA]

The French parliament on Tuesday (23 July) adopted a copyright reform to protect media against the use of their news by tech giants, the first national legislature to agree the new EU law.

The revamp to European copyright legislation, adopted by the European Parliament in March, was agreed by the National Assembly lower house in a final reading.

“We can be proud to be the first country to enshrine the EU directive into national law,” said Culture Minister Franck Riester.

“This text is absolutely essential for our democracy and the survival of an independent and free press,” he added.

The reform was loudly backed by media companies and artists, who want to secure revenue from web platforms that allow users to distribute their content.

But it was strongly opposed by internet freedom activists and by Silicon Valley, especially Google, which makes huge profits from the advertising generated alongside the content it hosts.

Major publishers, including AFP, have pushed hard for the reform, seeing it as an urgent remedy to safeguard quality journalism and the plummeting earnings of traditional media companies.

Meanwhile, many in the publishing industry came out in approval of the French Parliament’s adoption of the measures.

Carlo Perrone, President of the European News Publishers Association (ENPA) said that “France is leading the way in implementing a neighbouring right for press publishers,” while Xavier Bouckaert, President of the European Magazine Media Association (EMMA), said: “This grants press publications of all types and sizes a right to fairly negotiate with internet giants against the systematic and massive exploitation of press content.”

French publishers will now be required to set up talks with the platforms as a means to negotiate over license deals. If no agreement can be reached, the French government will be required to step in to ensure that a deal can be struck between the two parties.

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