Ancillary copyright: Facebook gets publishers’ permission to use them free of charge


Facebook publishers and content creators should be able to decide for themselves how their content is published on the platform. Specifically, this means that Facebook gets permission to distribute content for free. The background is the ancillary copyright law and the copyright reform that came into force this Monday. This means that Internet services are only allowed to display short excerpts or individual words from press releases without consent.

“Taking into account the EU Copyright Directive, these laws should give press publishers and creatives more control not only over their content, but also over the way this content is shared on digital platforms,” writes Facebook in a blog post. If a publisher shares its own content, the preview text and image will continue to be displayed automatically. However, if a third party wants to share the contents of a publisher, the publisher must have given its consent beforehand. Otherwise the post will be displayed as a hyperlink or just the headline. Links would currently be displayed for URL, title, description, image or video information based on industry standards based on Open Graph tags or general meta tag designations.

As a platform, Facebook is designed to give publishers the choice of whether and how their content is shared. To enable the display of links as before, Companies have to fill out a form that allows the social network to use it. So far, however, there is no concrete information on license payments.

It was only in May that Facebook started its news section in Germany. The content displayed there is paid for via license agreements with the publishers. Google does a similar thing with News Showcase. However, this cooperation model is currently being targeted by the Federal Cartel Office, which is examining whether Google is more or less preferring itself.

Publishers and creators who do not make their content freely available, of course, have the problem of not being found or of experiencing losses with visitors. Facebook says: “We know that press publishers are using Facebook in the increasingly digital world to reach new readers and expand their business.” They would get support in the form of analysis and other free tools to help with dissemination – such as “instant articles”, fan subscriptions and advertisements.

For content creators, they can determine in the rights manager how their content is handled. This corresponds roughly to a reporting system for intellectual property. They can also have content blocked explicitly for Facebook. To do this, they just have to be registered with Facebook and actively prevent the release.


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