Dr. Sofia Karakeva of DataScouting, a service provider and software developer for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), specialized in developing innovative solutions for media monitors, libraries, archives, museums, institutions, organizations and companies, coordinated a discussion between the representatives of three European libraries with MEP Julia Reda of the Pirate Party on the EU copyright reform and more. I represented Library & Information Center, University of Patras, Greece. Below you will find my part, while the entire discussion is posted on the blog of DataScouting.

GT: How the link tax and its extension in scholarship communication will affect the growth of qualitative research in countries that are marginalized in terms of language or in terms of funding?

JR: In an unexpected turn of events, the European Parliament’s industry and research committee recommended to extend the proposed neighbouring right for press publishers (also known as link tax) to scholarly publications. This would be a disaster for open science in general, because it would give publishers even more power to control the dissemination of research results. Even open access publications could be affected if they are published through a traditional academic journal via gold open access. At the very least, publishers could ask for more money from academics in the form of article processing charges in return for relinquishing any claims under the publisher’s neighbouring right to make the articles truly open access. Even the original Commission proposal for a link tax solely on news articles will be harmful to academic disciplines that rely on news articles as source material, however. Whenever news articles would need to be copied, linked to or incorporated into academic articles, for example in communications science or political science, an additional layer of rights would need to be cleared with the publishers.

Not all Member States have adequate copyright exceptions that would also apply to the new neighbouring right. The new right is supposed to apply retroactively to all news articles published in the last 20 years, so libraries and universities would have to check a significant number of previous publications, online databases and other research materials to make sure that they don’t violate the new right. Given that all experiments with the link tax so far, namely in Germany and Spain, have had a negative impact on the publishing market, there is no reason to keep pushing this harmful idea.