U.S. Copyright Office Publishes Report on Copyright Protections for Press Publishers

Issue No. 970 - June 30, 2022

On June 30, 2022, the U.S. Copyright Office published a report titled Copyright Protections for Press Publishers. At the request of Senators Leahy, Tillis, Cornyn, Hirono, Klobuchar, and Coons, the Office undertook a study to assess press publishers’ existing protections under copyright law and to evaluate the viability of adding new protections, such as those the European Union has recently adopted, that are intended to strengthen publishers’ ability to demand payment for third-party online uses of their news content, specifically from large news aggregators.

In the report, the Office surveys the relationship between press publishers and news aggregators, as well as the current scope of copyright protections, limitations, and exceptions that apply to this relationship. The report also discusses recent initiatives in foreign countries that are designed to enable press publishers to benefit financially from online news aggregation by third parties and consideration of similar legislation in the United States.

The report concludes that, while adequate funding for journalism may currently be at risk, press publishers have significant protections under existing law, and the challenges of funding journalism in the internet era do not appear to be copyright-specific. The Office does not believe it has been established that any shortcomings in copyright law pose an obstacle to incentivizing journalism or that new copyright-like protections would solve the problems that press publishers face. Given the available evidence, the Copyright Office does not recommend adopting a new ancillary copyright to bolster press publishers’ protections.

The full report is available on the Office’s website.