Online service providers are to remunerate use of journalistic works
Bern, 24.05.2023 - Media companies are to receive remuneration from large online service providers for the use of their journalistic works in future. Journalists are to benefit from this too. The Federal Council opened the consultation on the amendment to the Copyright Act (CopA) on 24 May 2023. It will continue until 15 September 2023.
Public debate is a crucial component of democratic systems. Due to digitalisation, much public debate now takes place online. The content offered by search engines, social media and multimedia platforms is largely based on journalistic works by traditional publishing media. As such text and image previews (‘snippets') are very short, they are not currently protected by copyright law. As a result, media companies and journalists do not at present receive any remuneration from online service providers that use their works.
Justified right to remuneration
In its report ‘Revision of the Copyright Act. Effectiveness review.' of 17 December 2021 (in German, French and Italian), the Federal Council recognised the right to the protection of journalistic works. As online service providers benefit substantially from the works of journalistic media, the Federal Council concluded that it is appropriate to remunerate journalistic media for their works. Its report also took international developments into account. In 2019, the EU issued a directive that allows media companies to assert their interests with respect to online service providers. Most EU Member States have since implemented the directive.
Based on this analysis, the Federal Council instructed the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) to produce a corresponding bill for consultation. On 24 May 2023, the Federal Council approved the bill.
Small media companies are to benefit too
The Federal Council proposes that large online service providers should be required to remunerate media companies for the use of snippets. For example, if a large search engine shows snippets of newspaper articles in its search results, the online service provider will have to pay remuneration for this in future.
Only online service providers with an average annual number of users amounting to at least ten per cent of the Swiss population will be obliged to pay remuneration. A collective rights management organisation will manage the rights to media content. It will represent the interests of media companies and journalists collectively and negotiate the remuneration amount and procedure with the online service providers that are required to pay remuneration. The Federal Council's approach thus involves a proven solution that is unbureaucratic by international comparison. At the same time, it ensures that smaller and regional media companies benefit from remuneration.
Two alternatives for social media
The Federal Council has left open the question of whether the service provider should be obliged to pay remuneration if social media users share snippets. It has submitted two alternative solutions for consultation. Merely using hyperlinks will remain free.
The new regulations should not have any consequences for internet users. The additional revenue for media companies and journalists cannot currently be estimated, as it will depend on negotiations between the collective rights management organisations and associations of users. The agreed rates must be approved by the Federal Arbitration Commission for the Exploitation of Copyrights and Related Rights (FACO). They will be binding.
Address for enquiries
Emanuel Meyer, Head of Copyright and Related Rights Legal Services, Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), T +41 31 377 72 23, email@example.com
The Federal Council
Federal Department of Justice and Police
Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property