Publishers, Booksellers Cheer Europe’s Digital Markets Act

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The European publishers’ and booksellers’ federations issue quick statements on today’s adoption of the Europe’s DMA and DSA.

At the Berlaymont office building in Brussels. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Jorisvo

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Italy’s Publishers Join the European Agencies
As Foo Yun Chee is reporting for Reuters Brussels, the European Parliament has today (July 5) in plenary voting passed both the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act. These measures are to begin going into force early in 2023.

Both measures are aimed at tech platforms Google (Alphabet), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft, and have to do with the use of content and come with hefty potential penalties. As Chee writes, “Companies face fines of up to 10 percent of annual global turnover for DMA violations and 6 percent for DSA breaches. Lawmakers and EU states had reached a political deal on both rule books earlier this year, leaving some details to be ironed out.”

There’s a concise write-up today from the watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation, in case you’d like to catch up quickly on the key elements of the two measures, reflective of what digital safety and competition advocates see as their strong and weaker points.

And a joint statement has been issued this afternoon from Brussels by the Federation of European Publishers and the European and International Booksellers Federation. These two major organizations in world publishing are in agreement that the adoption of the Digital Markets Act is “a big step forward for the book sector after 25 years of abuses.”

The publishers’ federation also has issued an additional note, however, in which it’s somewhat less celebratory about the adoption of the Digital Services Act in its final form. We’ll take the first statement from both groups, and then we’ll have for you the additional statement from the publishers.

We also have been provided with a statement from the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE), and will have that for you at the end of this article.

Statement 1: The Publishers and Booksellers on the DMA

We carry the joint statement here from the Federation of European Publishers and the European and International Booksellers Federation:

“The Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and the European and International Booksellers  Federation (EIBF) welcome the adoption of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) Regulation today by the  European Parliament. 

“The DMA imposes clear obligations upon the biggest online gatekeepers, prohibiting a number of anticompetitive practices and preventing them from unfairly harming the market and their competitors,  including booksellers and publishers. 

“The book sector has been affected by the increasing market dominance of these gatekeepers for  decades, leaving publishers and booksellers with no choice but to rely on their platforms to access the market, make their books available, and reach consumers. This, in turn, has allowed gatekeepers to set  their own rules and abusive conditions for many years up to this day, all while acting as direct  competitors on their own platforms. These unfair practices have direct consequences, both on fair competition and on cultural diversity, and they will finally end with the adoption of the DMA. 

“FEP and EIBF particularly welcome the obligations regarding data-sharing, the prohibition of self-preferencing, and the prohibition of most-favored-nation clauses, which will benefit both publishers  and booksellers, especially where gatekeepers combine intermediation and retailing activities in  a manner that is indistinguishable for the average consumer.

“We also welcome the positive first step  made in the DMA on interoperability yet hope for more ambition on the topic in the future. The measures introduced should, therefore, be reinforced to ensure that consumers are not locked into artificial silos when using e-readers and reading e-books. 

Peter Kraus vom Cleff

“Peter Kraus vom Cleff, president of the publishers’ federation, said, “The book sector was the canary in the mine of  gatekeeper abuses, e.g., witnessing the rise of Amazon 25 years ago and being subjected to a death  by a thousand cuts ever since.

“‘Today, Europe is showing once again its leadership and that abuses from online services will no longer be tolerated.

“‘Data is the life-blood of online competition and  gatekeepers will no longer be allowed to deprive publishers of data derived from our works or  weaponize them to their advantage.’

Jean-Luc Treutenaere

“And Jean-Luc Treutenaere, EIFB co-president, said, ‘We have been calling for a European piece of  legislation like the DMA for many years, following decades of unfair practices by large online platforms  acting as digital gatekeepers.

“‘We therefore welcome the adoption of these long-overdue rules and  obligations, which will be hugely beneficial for the entire book sector and ensure fairer competition in  the digital world.'” 

Statement 2: The Publishers’ Federation on the DSA

We carry now the statement here from the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), which the organization headlines The Digital Services Act is Adopted, But Does Not Fix the Internet:

“The Federation of European Publishers (FEP) welcomes the final adoption of the Digital Services Act  (DSA) regulation today by the European Parliament. The DSA was proposed under the motto ‘What is  illegal offline is also illegal online,’ a goal which publishers fully supported as victims of illegal activities online, along with their authors.  

“The final agreement reached between the co-legislators corrects some previous proposals that would  have made the fight against illegal content more difficult than it already was under the E-Commerce Directive of 2000. The DSA provides a harmonized legal framework that will allow European publishers to continue protecting their content online. It also subjects the largest online services to additional obligations to tackle the systemic risks they may pose, including with regard to illegal content. 

“Publishers need effective rules and mechanisms to ensure that their content can be protected online and that illegal uses of their works are swiftly removed on all kinds of websites. Publishers are  predominantly SMEs, and they cannot afford costly judicial procedures or a game of ‘Whac-a-Mole’ in which illegal content is constantly removed and then re-uploaded immediately. 

“Peter Kraus vom Cleff, president of FEP, said, ‘Europe is showing once again its willingness to  regulate the online world, but the DSA does not fix the significant issue which is the spread of illegal  content online.

“‘I regret that it does not include stronger tools to fight illegal content, such as a fair notice-and-stay-down mechanism. The DSA can only be a first step which the European Union will  need to follow up on in the future to actually ensure that illegal content online does not reappear after being removed.'”

Statement 3: The Association of Italian Publishers

The vice-president of the Federation of European Publishers is Ricardo Franco Levi, who is president of the Associazione Italiana Editori (AIE). From its offices in Milan today, that organization is messaging the news media under the headline, A Fairer and More Balanced Market. Now Amazon Will Have To Share Sales Data With Publishers:

“The Italian Publishers Association (AIE), together with the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) welcomes the definitive approval by the European Parliament of the two regulations Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA).

“In particular, AIE considers very positive the choice of the European Union to impose new obligations on the major online platforms, including Amazon. Among these in particular:

  • “The obligation to share sales data with their ‘business users’–in the case of Amazon, the publishers
  • “The prohibition of favoring a platform’s own contents and/or products for sale on the platform with respect to those of third parties who use the platform as a marketplace
  • “The prohibition to apply the a ‘most favored nation’ clause that obliges each third party to offer the platform the best conditions compared to competitors
  • “New obligations on content interoperability, a crucial issue in the ebook market

Ricardo Franco Levi

“Levi said, ‘Thanks to the work of AIE and FEP in the European institutions, an important step forward has been taken for the creation of a more balanced and competitive market through the limitation of the excessive power of the platforms.

“‘The obligation to share sales data is of particular importance for us: we live in a company that is based on data analysis and making this data accessible by all the players in the publishing market is essential to ensure the development of free competition and make publishers able to seize all the opportunities offered by digital .'”

More news from Publishing Perspectives on publishing in Europe is here, more on the European Union is here, more on the Federation of European Publishers is here, more on the European and International Booksellers Federation is here, and more on the Italian Publishers Association is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on world publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.