OFE signs coalition letter to oppose French ancillary copyright for pictures

21 March 2016

Author: OpenForum Europe

The National Assembly in France is discussing today the draft law on freedom of creation, architecture, and cultural heritage, which already passed the French Senate in its first reading. The provision aims to introduce a new ancillary right against the indexing of images on the internet.

OFE has signed a coalition letter together with other 13 signatories representing Internet users, consumers, libraries, civil society organizations, start-ups, online services and IT services from all over Europe. The letter was sent to the Minister for Culture and the Rapporteur. The signatories expressed their opposition to such provision, while underlining our concerns regarding the intention to create a new copyright claim against the indexing of images on the internet.

Such initiatives bring restrictions on competition, litigation, reduced access to information and less innovation. The current French proposal would bring about this negative impact, in a move which would isolate France in the European Union and would ignore the proved ineffective, unworkable and divisive similar initiatives in Germany and Spain.

A couple of the issues with such a provision, besides the concerns enumerated above, are that the “indexing referencing services” are nowhere defined – thus creating a cloud of legal uncertainty, and the beneficiaries of the tax to be paid would go solely to collecting societies – thus letting aside those artists who did not sign an agreement with a collecting society.

Good news is that the French government has presented last week an amendment to reject the provision seeking to introduce an ancillary copyright for pictures. The Legal Commission at the National Assembly has adopted it, and now it remains to be seen whether the whole National Assembly confirms this tomorrow morning. Meanwhile 3 amendments trying to reintroduce the measure have been presented by Members of the Parliament

We hope that basic, every day activities will continue to enjoy the existing freedom.

[Update 22 March: While reviewing the bill on Creation on 21 March, the French National Assembly has rejected the tax on pictures introduced by the Senate. A second reading at the Senate will follow in the next weeks, where senators will probably try to reintroduce this measure. If that happens, the Assembly and the Senate will have to find a compromise within a “Commission Mixte Paritaire”.]


Picture under CC by 2.0 Blake Burkhart