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A conference was arranged in April 2016, at the University of Amsterdam, with the assistance of IViR, the Institute for Information Law. This addressed the notion that there should be an amendment of European copyright and related law designed to benefit news, and possibly other content publishers. It was linked to the EU Commission’s consultation published on the 23rd March 2016, and in a Q&A document.

Publishers set out the reasons why they feel such a development was appropriate in this website. Nonetheless, the proposals were controversial, evidenced not least by the fact that 80 MEPs wrote to the Commission in December 2015 expressing concern about the proposal that an ancillary right for the benefit of press publishers should be brought into EU law.

The venue was at University of Amsterdam, Agnietenkapel, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 2290231, 1012 EX Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The full programmespeaker biographies and excerpts from relevant laws (hand-out for session 2) are all available, as is the full transcript of all the sessions.

The difficulties of commercial journalism

Like music and other branches of publishing, commercial news journalism has faced radical challenges over the last two decades. There is talk of the "death of the newspaper" and questions have been raised about the very future of journalism. While with music, books and films, the greatest threat to existing business models have been seen as the unauthorised and unremunerated home copying and peer-to-peer distribution, with commercial news journalism much of the challenge derives from the fact that advertising has not followed the shift of print-newspapers to the Internet. Such difficulties are compounded, from the point of view of news publishers, by the relatively free availability of news from other online sources. And they’ve been further compounded by the recent rise of social media, particularly Facebook, as a main route to the news.

Questions that arise

Is there sufficient rationale to alter copyright or related laws in a way that benefits news publishers? Should commercial news publishers benefit from any change in the law, given that other means exist for gathering and disseminating news? How strong is an economic case for such a right? To what extent is any economic case for change supplemented by other arguments, such as reward and natural rights arguments, and arguments about media plurality? Should European law treat news publishers in a similar way to other content producers, such as phonogram producers and broadcasters, who benefit from a related right? Would individual journalists benefit from a right afforded to news publishers, and if so, to what extent? Should news publishers benefit from levies and compensation schemes designed to benefit author-journalists?

This one day conference at IViR sought to address these questions. The conference was part of a two-year, AHRC funded project at CIPIL, Cambridge University, entitled Appraising Potential Legal Responses to Threats to the Production of  News in a Digital Environment, which the IViR kindly hosted and facilitated.

Session 1: Why are we here?

What problems face news publishers? Why is this important? Why might we expect a new European copyright or related law to help resolve them? Professor Ian Hargreaves (University of Cardiff) chairs a panel discussing these issues, comprised of Dr Richard Danbury (University of Cambridge), Professor Dr Jan Hegemann (Raue LLP), Matt Rogerson (The Guardian), Andrew J Hughes (NLA Media Access, speaking in a personal capacity), Mark Seeley (RELX).

Slides for this session are available to download.


Session 2: What went before?

What legal responses have there been in other countries, and what can be learnt from these about the prospects, requirements and effect of any new law? Professor Bernt Hugenholtz (University of Amsterdam) chairs a panel discussing these issues, comprised of Professor Michael Grünberger (University Bäyreuth), Professor Raquel Xalabarder (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), Søren Christian Søborg Andersen (Horten), and Chris Beall (LSKS Law).

Slides for this session are available at:


Session 3: Could a new law help?

What is the economic evidence? What legal restraints would a new law have to observe? What political concerns are likely to be raised by a new law? Professor Lionel Bently (University of Cambridge), chairs a panel discussing these issues comprised of Bertin Martens (European Commission, speaking in a personal capacity), Professor Bernt Hugenholtz (University of Amsterdam), Marietje Schaake MEP.


Session 4: What else might a law do?

The effects on consumers, the internet, new entrants to the market, and freedom of expression. Professor Ian Hargreaves (University of Cardiff), chairs a panel discussing these issues comprised of Professor John Naughton (University of Cambridge), Agustín Reyna (BEUC), James Mackenzie (Cutbot), Professor Mireille van Eechoud (University of Amsterdam).


For further information contact:
Dr Richard Danbury (
Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law,
University of Cambridge