Opinions differ on ancillary copyright

The Federal Council's plans for a performance protection right have met with a mixed response. Representatives of all parties, several associations and media companies support the idea. Independent media and the online industry, on the other hand, have expressed reservations.

International tech platforms must pay fair compensation for the use of journalistic content, the alliance "Pro ancillary copyright" wrote in a communiqué on Wednesday. Otherwise, the Swiss media center would be permanently damaged. This, in turn, would harm the democratic formation of opinion.

The alliance is supported, among others, by the Swiss Media Association (VSM), in which the newspaper publishers are organized, the SRG, as well as associations of regional TV stations, Swiss private radio stations, and creative artists. The Keystone-SDA news agency is also part of the alliance.

The alliance is led by a seven-member co-presidency. This consists of federal parliamentarians from all political camps.

Search engine results

On Wednesday, the Federal Council sent a bill on ancillary copyright for consultation. In essence, online services should pay for the use of journalistic content in the future. This applies, for example, to search engines that display text and image previews of online articles in their results.

Today, advertising and subscription revenues are being siphoned off from Swiss media companies, while international Internet platforms are steadily increasing their profits thanks to journalistic content, the VSM wrote in a communiqué. The stakes are unequally long - because the media companies are dependent on a presence in the offerings of the tech giants, which act as quasi-monopolists.

"Wrong incentives"

Google is one of the main parties affected by the ancillary copyright. A spokeswoman for the company told the news agency Keystone-SDA that it would examine the Federal Council's proposal and participate in the consultation process. Operators of news websites already decided themselves whether and how headlines and links appeared in Google searches.

With reference to precisely this circumstance, Swico, the association of the online industry, opposed the proposed new regulation. In other countries, the ancillary copyright had no noticeable impact on quality journalism. In its statement, the association spoke of a "left-wing tax" and accused the Federal Council of wanting to shift media financing to private parties after the popular vote on the media package in February 2022.

Within the media industry, support is not unanimous. Critics of the Federal Council's proposal fear it could have a counterproductive effect. In a reaction, the Association Media with a Future (VMZ), in which 25 independent media have joined forces, spoke of false incentives. There is a danger that large publishing houses with a wide reach will benefit disproportionately.

In Germany, the major publishers would also have received significantly less money in the end as a result of the ancillary copyright than originally demanded, according to the VMZ. Overall, the disadvantages outweigh the benefits.

Digitale Gesellschaft Schweiz also criticized the ancillary copyright for damaging quality journalism instead of promoting it. This is because it makes it worthwhile to generate as many clicks as possible. (SDA)

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