Public Hearing on:
"Bringing Europe's cultural heritage online"
European Federation of Journalists Statement,
28th October 2010
The EFJ represents 50 journalists unions and
associations in 34 countries across Europe.
Today we are
witnessing a complete change in the way news is produced and how journalists
The digital environment
has offered our colleagues new platforms to publish on and new sources of
information (Twitter, Facebook, blogs). This shift has also reinforced concerns
faced by the profession about
a drop in ethical standards,
a lack of respect and loss of protection for journalists' and
development of unfriendly online licenses for authors (if any) and
lack of remuneration for reproducing works online...
concerns also apply to the EU digitisation debate. Although we truly welcome
current efforts to sustain online access to Europe's cultural heritage and to
news content in particular - both from a creator's and a user's perspective- ongoing
difficulties journalists face in the protection of their rights should not be
underestimated. Making archive copies available
online in an ill-considered manner could effectively destroy journalists' - and
other authors' - income from syndication and re-use, which for many is a significant
part of the cash-flow that enables them to operate as independent
The key challenge
here is to maintain journalists' moral and economic rights over the content
that they create. This must be particularly borne in mind when digitising newspapers. As
James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, Europe and
Asia, points out, "the copyright holder needs to be part and parcel of
determining how further exploitation digitally is conducted".
This rule should apply no matter
the nature of the news content in question, be it in-copyright, orphan or out
of print. This becomes even more important with online paid-for models where it
becomes difficult for journalists to trace how their work is going to be used
and for what gain.
In practice, journalists transfer
their rights to their employers for the first publication only. Additional
reproductions of a news story or a photograph are usually covered by collective
agreements negotiated between unions and media employers. In copyright
countries (UK, Netherlands, Ireland) freelance journalists retain their rights
after the first publication and must give permission for reproducing their
These schemes must be taken into
account when digitising news content and the main question public libraries
shall ask themselves is: who owns the right?
Additionally, specific attention must be paid to the composition of a
newspaper which includes several works that
are authors' rights protected. The stories and the embedded photographs have
all been created by individuals that retain their authors' rights and have
licensed their employer to use these contents for a specific use. Digitisation of news contents cannot be done without
recognition and permission of all authors involved. Collecting societies have a
key role to play here in giving this permission and in easing the process.
As information is soon
out-of-date, out of print works are frequent in the printed press. However, the
fact that a newspaper is out of print does not mean that no author can be found
or that his/her rights have been transferred for possible future use. Therefore
digitisation of out of print works should also be based on due authorization
from authors, including authors of embedded photographs.
Lastly, we believe that there is a
need to seriously consider technical ways to reduce the number of orphan works
in circulation in the future and enforce existing legislation regulating moral
rights. Too many authors of newspaper articles and press photographs become
impossible to identify because of the absence of signature or bi-line. Signatures,
not only guaranty the reputation of an author and ethical journalism standards,
but they also ease the authorization process which is necessary before digitising
works and making them accessible online. The French debate over the need to
reduce the number of "all rights reserved" photographs and reinforce
identification of photographers is symptomatic of this effort to strengthen
The issue is becoming urgent at a time where the news is
increasingly digital and we strongly encourage the Comité des sages to give
additional and serious consideration to ways to enforce authorship.
Brussels, 28th October, Pamela