The leading voice in European Copyright Policy, Commissioner Michel Barnier, has given strong backing to the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its members in their fight to protect journalists' authors' rights.
On 24 January, Mr Barnier, the Commissioner responsible for the Internal Market and Services in the European Union took the opportunity of a meeting with EFJ representatives to underscore the important role journalists play in Europe's democracy and cultural diversity.
"Journalists have a key role to play in upholding Europe's democracy, and make an invaluable contribution to Europe's economy and cultural industry," said Commissioner Barnier: "We are in the process of updating copyright rules in Europe to adapt them to a digital age. One important element will be to ensure the appropriate protection of journalists' authors' rights."
The EFJ warned that there is a growing threat to journalists' authors' rights in the digital age. "Journalistic works are often used or misused without prior consent from the author," said Phillippe Leruth, the EFJ Vice President, "They are also under increasing pressure to sign away all their rights for the works they produced."
The delegation also warned that discussion at the international level on copyright exception poses a threat to Europe's authors' rights tradition, which enshrines the principles of economic rights of authors and their moral rights - the rights to be identified and to protect the integrity of their work. The EFJ asked the Commissioner to uphold the European authors' rights tradition and avoid any copyright exception that would weaken the rights of authors.
The Commission is currently preparing a strategy on intellectual property rights adapted to the digital era, which will include a legislative proposal on orphan works (works whose authors are unknow) and collective rights management. Commissioner Barnier assured the delegation that "the European legislative framework will allow creators, including journalists, to be appropriately remunerated for their works, and to enforce their rights when they are infringed."
The EFJ said, "We welcome the commitment from Commissioner Barnier to defending journalism as a public good and upholding the European authors' rights system."
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The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in more than 30 countries