After an ancillary copyright for newspaper publishers has been a matter of fact in Germany and in Spain for some time, demands for a reform of the copyright regulation in Austria are becoming louder, too. On this basis, newspapers and magazines would be able to demand licenses for the use of their online publications by other organizations – such as search engines. However, a draft law is still not in sight – which is no surprise as the interests of the concerned parties are in direct opposition to each other: While many publishers consider an ancillary copyright to be essential for securing the economic foundation of journalistic production processes in the long run, critics fear a distinct restriction of communication freedom on the Web – with negative implications for the Internet economy as well. Additional confusion is caused by continuing discussions about the – in some cases – blurry legal situation in other European countries: In October 2014, for example, Google started to use considerably shorter news snippets than in the past, because exact regulations still needed to be clarified by the courts. Such ‘construction faults’ in the ancillary copyright law would be avoidable on the Austrian level, if media policy-makers analyzed the given situation from a comparative perspective before starting a legislative initiative.
Our research is supposed to contribute to a systematization of the current problems. Which arguments are used in favor and which ones are used against the introduction of an ancillary copyright law in Austria? In how far is the situation similar or dissimilar from the neighboring countries in Europe that already had direct experiences with a reform of the copyright law? What can Austria learn from these experiences? These and similar questions are answered on the basis of a multi-method research design, in order to develop specific recommendations for media policy-makers and media practitioners.