Publishing Rights in Online Use – Recent Developments

Digital technologies continue to influence and transform the printed publication industry, much like their impact in various other sectors. In fact, considering the findings of a 2021 EU Commission survey, which revealed that 72% of internet users aged 16 to 74 in the EU were found to access newspapers and magazines online, it is not hard to imagine that this percentage has increased in the recent years.

Amidst these developments, the European Union (“EU) adopted the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (“the Directive”) to improve copyright laws to better address the challenges arising from the complexities brought by the digital environment. The Directive sought to create uniformity in copyright regulations across EU member states, aligning them more closely with the requirements of the digital age. In this scope, the Directive, as we reported in our article published last year, brings improvements regarding the right of content creators to enter into licensing agreements for the online use of their content as well as their right to fair remuneration, and has been the subject of various debates. Indeed, many EU countries, including Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands, have made the necessary transpositions into their national laws.[1] However, it is indicated that establishing a uniform perspective and practice across the EU is a process that may take some time.

While these represent the latest developments in terms of legal regulations, in practice, stakeholders in the sector have continued to negotiate with rights holders this year, much like they did last year. In this context, negotiations between internet service providers and news producers in Canada, Australia, and various EU countries were reported in the press, and the Canadian government took a direct role in negotiating on behalf of the media with Google. As a result of the negotiations, Google agreed to contribute 100 million Canadian dollars annually in cash to a wide range of news publishers.[2] Of this funding, 63% was allocated to publishers, 30% to private broadcasters, while the state broadcasters were capped to 7%.

On the other hand, advancements in the field of artificial intelligence (“AI”) also give rise to new concerns regarding content ownership and copyrights in the interactions between news agencies, journalists, and AI companies. Indeed, the data employed to train AI algorithms often encompasses substantial amounts of text, news, and content, leading to ongoing disputes over copyright issues related to this content. A recent illustration of this is the legal action taken by the New York Times against OpenAI and Microsoft in the last days of 2023, alleging unauthorized use of their content and asserting violations of their copyrights. [3] Despite arguments from the AI companies that the data used for training the algorithm should fall under fair use, the final determination on such matters will be shaped by court decisions in these cases.

While Türkiye has not yet introduced new provisions on these matters, the draft legislation on publishers' copyrights arising from the use of their content on digital platforms is in progress. The Turkish Grand National Assembly Commission on Digital Media states that discussions on the "Digital Copyright Law" are ongoing with the General Directorate of Copyright of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Anadolu Agency which is the official news agency of Türkiye, and other stakeholders. Moreover, the Chairman of the Commission expressed their intention to invite Google officials for further discussions and stated that they will engage in discussions on the implementation of European Union norms in Türkiye. [4]

[1] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/NIM/?uri=CELEX:32019L0790
[2] https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/statement-by-minister-st-onge-on-next-steps-for-the-online-news-act-848115066.html
[3] https://nytco-assets.nytimes.com/2023/12/NYT_Complaint_Dec2023.pdf
[4] https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/politika/meclis-dijital-telif-icin-icerik-ureticileriyle-googlei-bir-araya-getirecek/3074351

Stay Informed

Subscribe to stay up to date on the latest legal insights and events of your choice.