European Publishers to Address Search Engine Practices

Paris, 31 January 2006
For immediate release

The newspaper, magazine and book publishing industries have come together to explore ways to challenge the exploitation of content by search engines without fair compensation to copyright owners.

A task force of global and European publishers’ organizations, led by the World Association of Newspapers, has agreed to work together to examine the options open to publishers to assert their rights to recognition and recompense, and to ultimately improve the relationships between content creators/producers and news aggregators and search engines.

The group will examine whether new standards and policies can be drafted to formalize the commercial relationship between publishers and the search engines and content aggregators, which provide a valuable service to publishers in terms of traffic generation but have built their business models in large part on taking content for free.

The group will also explore the options open to newspaper, book and magazine publishers, including collective action, either at a national or international level, together with questions regarding copyright enforcement and brand infringement.

As one of its first steps, the group will be seeking meetings with Mr. Charlie McCreevy, European Union Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, and Ms. Viviane Reding, the Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

“The search engines are increasingly aiming their strategic efforts at traditional content originators and aggregators like newspaper publishers. The irony is that these search engines exist, largely, because of the traditional news and content aggregators and profit at their expense,” said Gavin O’Reilly, the WAN President, who is chairing the task force.

Mr O’Reilly, who calls the process the “Napsterisation” of content (after the conflict between the Napster search engine and the music industry), added: “Google, Yahoo and other search engines are not some new breed of social benefactors of information; they are assuredly commercial, very much for-profit organizations and not the new Robin Hoods. WAN is also extremely concerned about the behaviour of several major search engines when faced with the censorship demands of repressive regimes.”

The first meeting of the task force included representatives of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and its division for senior news executives, the World Editors Forum, (WEF), International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP), the European Federation of Magazine Publishers (ENPA), the European Publishers Council (EPC), the European Magazine Publishers Association (FAEP) and SPMI (French association for magazine publishers), Agence France-Presse (AFP), the association of French national newspapers, SPP, and the French regional daily newspaper association, SPQR.

The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, represents 18,000 newspapers; its membership includes 73 national newspaper associations, newspapers and newspaper executives in 102 countries, 11 news agencies and nine regional and world-wide press groups.

Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications, WAN, 7 rue Geoffroy St Hilaire, 75005 Paris France.
Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 00. Fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48.
Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36.

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