FML Blog

Copyright debate continues in Brussels, new Digital Commissioner, and worldwide online content consumption trends

Friday, July 14, 2017      Future Media Lab.       0

Karin Fleming

(Left) Karin Fleming, Communications Manager at EMMA/the Future Media Lab.


In this bi-weekly news round-up, Karin Fleming shares the news that caught her eye over the last two weeks. The news round-up is a way for the Future Media Lab. team and members of the Future Media Lab. network to share articles about innovations and developments in the media sector, including references to relevant media policy debates. To get this round-up sent directly to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter!


Copyright file circles back to Commission proposal.

This week saw continued discussions of the reform of the EU's copyright rules in the European Parliament, with votes on amendments in the CULT and ITRE committees, as well as the first hearing of the lead JURI committee with the new rapporteur of the file, MEP Axel Voss. One of the more contentious issues being discussed is the proposal to grant an ancillary right for press publishers, which would put them on par with the rights of other content creators, such as film and music producers. The votes indicated that there is a wide support of MEPs for the proposal (article 11), which came in spite of a strong opposition campaign led by those companies whose business model is based on scraping publishers' content for free.


The JURI hearing also indicated a shift from former rapporteur Therese Comodini Cachia's draft report, which had prompted nearly 1,000 amendments from MEPs. In an interview with Politico Europe, Voss said that "it's time to move past that old report, which watered down a polarising proposed right for media publishers," adding that online platforms "need to be held responsible for what goes on their sights and media publishers need new rights." This shift is much more aligned with the European Commission's original proposal, and Voss drew the praise of Commissioner Gunther Oettinger.


There's a new Digital Commissioner in town.

On 4 July, MEPs voted to approve the appointment of Mariya Gabriel as the Bulgarian Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. This appointment was confirmed by the Council three days later, on 7 July. In this position, Gabriel will be overseeing some of the Commission's most contentious proposals, including the copyright reform bill, the ePrivacy reform and the reform of the AVMS directive.


The former MEP was nominated by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in May 2017 and took part in a nomination hearing hosted by the ITRE and CULT committees on 20 June. During the hearing, MEPs posed a range of questions, covering such files as copyright, cyber security, hate speech, roaming and data protection. At the hearing, Gabriel also said that she will prioritise wrapping up the Commission's work on the 16-point Digital Single Market initiative over the course of her relatively short 2-year mandate.


France, Germany aligned on hate speech rules.

At the end of last month, Germany approved plans to fine social media firms up to €50m for failing to remove illegal content, with the aim to tackle the rise of hate speech, criminal material and fake news spread via the platforms.

This past week French ministers echoed the sentiments expressed by their German colleagues, saying that there is a need to ensure that hate speech and terrorist content is removed from social platforms in a timely manner. While the French ministers gave no indication that they were also considering a law on this, it's imperative that governments tread lightly, as it could push social media platforms to be overly cautious in removing a broader range of content from their sites in order to avoid hefty fines.


An uphill battle: news orgs and the digital duopoly.

Newspaper publishers in the United States are fighting back against the digital duopoly by launching an effort to win the right to negotiate collectively with big online platforms. The representative organisation, News Media Alliance, plan to ask Congress for a limited antitrust exemption to allow for such collective bargaining.


The effort comes at a time when more people than ever before are consuming media content, but the distribution system doesn't provide the framework necessary for the development of sustainable business models, wrote David Chavern, president and CEO of the alliance in an Wall Street Journal op-ed.


Estonian Presidency takes the reigns.

On 1 July Estonia assumed the Council's rotating Presidency for a period of six months. During this time their four priorities are to ensure: 1) an open and innovative European economy; 2) a safe and secure Europe; 3) a digital Europe and the free movement of data; and 4) an inclusive and sustainable Europe.


In this sense, advancing the files in the Digital Single Market Strategy is a high priority. This includes a focus on developing cross-border e-commerce and e-services, ensuring modern and secure electronic communications (particularly related to ePrivacy), and advancing cross-border digital public services. The Estonian Presidency will also oversee the reform of the EU's VAT reform.


Fact-checking may change minds about facts, but not candidates.

A new paper that analyses how fact-checking initiatives have influenced public opinion about political candidates says that while individuals may be willing to change their minds about facts, these changes are largely not reflected in their opinion of the candidates that they support.


How online content is consumed around the world.

A new study by Chartbeat looks into how readers across the world consume content online and has uncovered some interesting trends, including 1) that readers in Western Europe are the most loyal; 2) mobile traffic is highest in the Asia/Pacific region; and 3) on average people engage with an article for just 30 seconds in Europe.


What Quora can do for publishers' audience engagement strategies.

The Economist is exploring how Quora can be used to shape its comment sections after having hosting a Q+A on the platform with the deputy editor, Tom Standage, last August. The questions Standage answered received over 1.5 million views, so The Economist has run an additional five Q+A series and is planning to create a monthly installation.

For the Economist, the appeal of using Quora may have to do with the direct connection to some of the correspondents at the magazine, since articles generally are without bylines. Given the success of the trial Q+As, The Economist is looking to find out if it's possible to incorpoarate the Q+A function more natively into the comments section



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