EUROPEAN REVIEW

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ISSUE 70 page 8

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Sites of Interest

Copyright to be next barricade in digital revolution

NEW EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER MADE IT one of his top priorities on taking office at the end of last year: the Digital Single Market (DSM). As he put it ‘All areas of the economy and society are becoming digital. Europe needs to be at the forefront of this digital revolution for its citizens and its businesses. Barriers to digital are barriers to jobs, prosperity and progress’. One of the greatest barriers at the moment is the existence of out-dated copyright laws and different copyright regimes among the 28 Member States. Under current European rules individual countries can lay down limitations and exceptions that mean online behaviour including links to newspaper articles and blog posts, or web sites including footage embedded from existing on-line video material, can all be illegal. Any company intent on starting a pan-EU service must deal with a different copyright collection society in each jurisdiction. The European Parliament intends to hold a comprehensive consultation with everyone involved this year before the Commission puts forward a new directive or regulation to harmonise and modernise current laws, enabling European citizens to have online access across borders. Already it is clear that authors and owners on the one hand and users on the other have very different ideas on how to reform the legislation. Consumers complain that they are blocked from certain YouTube videos by copyright managers such as Germany’s GEMA and that services like the BBC’s iPlayer are not available to Brits abroad. Authors and performers argue that there is no demand for cross-border services and that it would be too expensive to market and support them in a myriad of different languages. Copyright societies claim that it would be impossible to compensate their clients if they granted multi-territory licences. The co-ordinator of the parliament’s working group, Jean-Marie Cavada, is hopeful however of ‘ensuring the right balance between the right holders protection and easy access for consumers’.  .

 

Web sites mentioned in this issue are available at:
 Working in the UK:
 Construction for Youth:
Google News in Spain announcement:
Spain’s Google tax scores own goal

FOLLOWING  ARGUMENTS WITH PUBLISHERS IN BELGIUM, France and Germany Google has been unable to reach agreement with the Spanish government over a new law that tries to enforce payment to newspapers by the giant American Internet search company when it quotes their articles. After a court case in Belgium and legislation in Germany and France deals were done which allowed headlines and short extracts from those countries’ newspapers to continue to appear on Google News. But the Spanish initiative which brought in payments for universities using news materials in teaching as well as ‘news aggregators’ has proved impossible to negotiate. Familiarly known as the ‘Google tax’ the law insists that publishers whose material appears on Google News and similar locally-based services, such as Menéame, which racks up more than 35 million views per month, must charge for its use. Penalties of up to €600,000 apply to companies who don’t pay up. In the event no money will change hands as Google chose to withdraw the service before the law was passed. Richard Gingras, head of Google News explained ‘As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) ... we'll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain’.
It seems that not only does the new law not allow publishers to waive the right to charge Google for its News service but it may also apply to searches on the general search page which generate even more Internet traffic for the Spanish newspapers. According to Business Professor Enrique Dans: ‘The law is approved and you cannot roll it back once it has passed through the Senate and Congress … the effects are terrible, although the government does not know it yet because it does not understand what the Internet is’.

EU construction web site aims at young people

THE SOCIAL PARTNERS IN THE construction industry have authored a new web site designed to interest young people in jobs in the sector.  Despite galloping youth unemployment in Europe the President of the EFBWW union federation Domenico Pesenti says ‘In most Member States the construction industry is still suffering from a negative image which affects its attractiveness’. Together with the general ageing of the EU population this results in difficulties in hiring young staff. Many Member States have developed new initiatives to try and attract them. The purpose of the site is to act as a portal in bringing access to these different projects together in one place. Thirteen countries are represented and the initiatives range from dry stone walling training in Hungary to the ‘Budding Brunels’ programme in the U.K. which introduces students from disadvantaged backgrounds to young professionals already working in construction.  According to FIEC (employers) President Johan Willemen ‘The aim of our website is to present such initiatives … to raise awareness amongst young people … that our industry can offer them … career prospects and opportunities’.

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