German publishing houses have banded together to call for effective measures to protect their intellectual property as the Internet and the global credit crunch continue to put the future of print media in jeopardy.
Piracy of intellectual property is threatening the future of publishing companies
The German media industry has demanded that lawmakers pass effective measures to protect their intellectual property on the Internet. At the "International Media Dialogue" in Hamburg on Monday, leading publishing houses and the trade unions of the music, advertising and film industry warned about the economically devastating consequences of the "ongoing theft of intellectual property" on the Internet.
Newspapers have been hit hard as the Internet gains popularity
The slogan of the one-day media congress was: "No Future for Paid Content? Media Industry Under Pressure," and it was all about the Internet and the future of print media. In a statement, the German Producers Alliance, the German Association of Communications Agencies, and the big publishing houses Springer, Bauer, Ganske, Gruner & Jahr, Spiegel and Zeit demanded legal protection in the digital world.
"Countless providers are using the work of authors, publishers and broadcasters without paying for it. That permanently threatens the creation of quality works and independent journalism," they warned.
Speaking at Hamburg's city hall, Mathias Doepfner, chairman of Axel-Springer AG, one of the largest newspaper publishing companies in Europe, suggested that more that 500 media representatives both in and outside of the country depend on intellectual property rights to stay solvent.
"We don't want any (state) subsidies, so we need support to protect our intellectual property," Doepfner added, saying that the print media and diversity of print media would only be able exist in the digital world for as long as they can protect their investments and are able to refinance.
Mathias Doepfner says strengthening copyright laws will ensure media companies won't need state aid
"Our goal has to be keeping the main avenues of the Internet free of piracy - for music, films, books, journalism and all other protected goods."
Dagmar Woehrl, under secretary at the economics ministry told the German website taggesschau.de that any further developments in the protection of copyrights needs to take place on an international, and not just national, level. It's still being debated whether copyrights should be strengthened or if audios, videos and texts should just be opened up to free redesign on the internet.
The French parliament has just passed a law allowing authorities to shut down Internet connections for people who have been convicted of multiple copyright infringements.
However, it is still not how these people will be identified in a world in which changing a Web site, and therefore the identifiable location of the infringed material, is just a few mouse clicks away.
Editor: Chuck Penfold