Germany: Rightholders criticise Ministry of Justice on copyright reform draft

Rightholders criticise Ministry of Justice on copyright reform draft
“The legal position of the creative industries will be further weakened in relation to global platforms and established value creation models will be deprived of their basis”.

Berlin, 14 October 2020 – A broad alliance of associations and institutions of rightholders from various sectors* sharply criticise the implementation draft of the DSM Directive of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). The draft, published on 13 October 2020, creates a legal framework which partly goes against the intention of the DSM Directive, implements the European requirements in an excessive manner and does not take into account established legal positions of the creative industry and rightsholders – irrespective of individual interests.

Large parts of the creative industries were hit this year disproportionately hard by the Corona crisis; the effects will continue to be felt by many users and rightsholders in the coming months and years. It is therefore all the more important for the German creative industry that the legislator ensures legal framework conditions for a sustainable value chain – including large online platforms – and thus strengthens the digital licensing business.

The draft bill, however, will further strengthen powerful global platforms on the back of rightholders and considerably weaken the development potential of the creative industries in Germany in the long term. The regulations planned by the BMJV are in their formulation far removed from practice and needs of licensing relationships, ; it would undermine regular established and future licensing markets, open the door to abuse and remove the fondation of accepted industry solutions, for example in copyright contract law.

The future permitted use of copyright-protected works of up to 20 seconds per film, running picture or soundtrack, up to 1,000 characters per text or up to 250 kilobytes for photos and graphics is also contrary to European law. Moreover, the legislator fails to recognise market realities and current developments, in view of which the importance of short excerpts of copyright-protected works cannot be overestimated. Against the background of an increasingly changing media consumption with shorter and shorter attention spans, a 20-second video clip can, for example, summarise all match-defining scenes of a football match, key moments of TV shows and particularly illustrative news reports. 20 seconds of a current pop song can depict a significant part of the song, 20 seconds of a film can anticipate the punch line of a film or destroy a painstakingly built up tension. And the free use of 1,000 characters of a text template would in practice devalue the ancillary copyright of press publishers. In the case of photographs and graphics, this would indeed mean that the complete works may be used while the size limit of 250 kilobytes covers practically all standard applications on the net without any permission. The platforms that have developed lucrative business models in the wake of mass-attractive short clips and photographs would be first to benefit economically from such rules. Especially in the field of social media, short clips of copyright-protected works and photographs therefore require special protection. 

 Press release in original here

*The signatories from the cultural and creative industries include: BVMI – Bundesverband Musikindustrie e.V., BVPA – Bundesverband professioneller Bildanbieter e. V., DFL – Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH, GVL – Gesellschaft zur Verwertung von Leistungsschutzrechten, MPA – Motion Picture Association, Allianz Deutscher Produzenten e. V., SPIO – Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft e. V., VAUNET – Verband Privater Medien e. V. VG Media – Gesellschaft zur Verwertung der Urheber- und Leistungsschutzrechte von Sendeunternehmen und Presseverleger and VUT – Verband unabhängiger Musikunternehmer*innen e. V.