Study on Ancillary Copyright Protections for Publishers
The Copyright Office has concluded a public study evaluating the effectiveness of current copyright protections for publishers in the United States, with a focus on press publishers. The Office’s report—Copyright Protections for Press Publishers—is linked on the right side of this page.
In their letter requesting this study, six members of Congress pointed to a recent European Union directive establishing “ancillary copyright” protections for press publishers to enable them to obtain compensation from online news aggregators who use their content. In its report, the Office considers whether or not similar protections are warranted in the United States, as well as the potential scope, source, and appropriate beneficiaries of any such protections. It also examines the potential impact of hypothetical new protections on users, including news aggregators, and the interaction between ancillary copyright and the United States’ international treaty obligations.
On October 12, 2021, the Office issued a Federal Register notice seeking public input on topics relating to these issues. The Office received thirty comments. The Office issued a second Federal Register notice on November 9, 2021, and received seventeen additional comments. The Office also held a public roundtable in this proceeding on December 9, 2021, via Zoom.
The Office’s final report was published on June 30, 2022. In the report, the Office recognizes that adequate funding for journalism may currently be at risk and that there are implications for the press’s essential role in our system of government. The Office concludes, however, that press publishers have significant protections under existing law and that 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.