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Publishing in 2018: Five things we’re talking about

15 March 2018

Welcome to the March edition of the Publishing eBulletin. With London Book Fair fast approaching, we take this opportunity to give you a round-up of some of the key legal issues and developments that we’ve been talking about so far this year.

The General Data Protection Regulation

With less than 100 days until the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect, we have been helping clients across the industry to prepare for the new regulations.

As part of these preparations we have developed a GDPR compliance toolkit for the Publishers Association, held a briefing seminar for The Association of Authors Agents and webinars for The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers.

If you would like further information on this topic, you can visit our data protection page or contact Alex Hardy.

Publishing in a post-Brexit world

We have been monitoring the reports, impact assessments and guidance that have been released by the UK Government and other regulatory bodies so far this year to piece together the implications of Brexit on the publishing industry’s legal framework. However, there is still very little certainty on the post-transition position for a number of key areas for the industry, including EU nationals, EU funding, trade arrangements, research, and intellectual property laws. We will continue to monitor the developments and keep you updated.

In the meantime, you can read our thoughts on some intellectual property considerations here and on the UK’s future approach to trade secrets here .

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Publishing has also launched a call for evidence on a number of challenges facing the UK Publishing industry, including the impact of Brexit and future trade negotiations with the EU and the rest of the world. The deadline for submissions is 5pm Thursday 15 March.

Best practice for mergers, acquisitions and divestments

The past few years have seen acquisition, consolidation and divestment activity at all levels of the publishing industry.

In the past few months alone, Blackwell Learning was sold to Kortext; private equity firm Aurelius bought wholesaler and distributor Connect Books; CBS (the parent company of Simon & Schuster) is exploring a merger with media company Viacom; and Waterstones has been put up for sale.

We expect to see further corporate activity in the market and so we have created a best practice guide titled Mergers and Acquisitions: an introduction to the role of your legal team for Book Industry Communication (BIC). The guide is designed to accompany BIC’s own best practice guidelines, for publishers who may be acquiring, divesting or merging with other organisations, on communication to retailers or any other third parties involved in the supply of digital products.

Emily Miles, an associate in our Publishing and Corporate teams, will be discussing the guide as part of the BIC ‘Building a Better Business’ seminar at the London Book Fair on 12 April 2018. The seminar is free to registered attendees of the London Book Fair. You can find out more here.

European Copyright Reform

It’s almost a year and a half since the European Commission unveiled its first draft of the Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market, which outlined the Commission’s proposed reforms to modernise copyright law as part of its Digital Single Market strategy.

Although progress has been made in the wake of the initial debate and disagreements triggered by the bold changes proposed , the right for press publishers to authorise or prohibit use of their publications by online service providers (the so-called press publishers’ right) and the new monitoring obligations for online content platforms (the so-called ‘value gap’ issue) remain the two key outstanding issues. You can read more about the proposed reforms here.

We will be attending the Charles Clark Memorial Lecture at the London Book Fair on 10 April 2018, to hear more about the Directive and European copyright from Andrus Ansip, currently Vice President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for the digital single market.

Are online platforms publishers?

Last October the chairwoman of Ofcom sparked a debate on the regulation of social media platforms by stating that it was her “personal view” that websites such as Facebook, Google and Twitter should be classified as content publishers. This was quickly rebutted by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who warned that this would be very restrictive and may impinge on freedom of speech and civil liberties.

Yet the idea has picked up momentum, with the House of Lords holding a debate on the “role played by social media and online platforms as news and content publishers” in January and a private member’s bill titled the Social Media Service Providers (Civil Liability and Oversight) Bill being tabled in the House of Commons in February.

You can read more here.

Our news

Legal rankings 2017/2018
Our Publishing team has been recognised for its work in the publishing industry in both the Chambers and Legal 500 legal rankings for 2017/2018.

Partner Shireen Peermohamed was singled out as a leading practitioner in the field by both rankings as well as being ranked in the Chambers Global 2018 for Intellectual Property – UK.

Senior Associate Alex Hardy was named as a next generation lawyer by Legal 500 and a Star Associate by Chambers.

The British Book Awards 2018
We are delighted to be an awards partner for The British Book Awards 2018, where Alex Hardy will again be acting as a judge.

Upcoming Events

London Book Fair 2018
We will be attending the 2018 London Book Fair and Emily Miles, an associate in our Publishing and Corporate teams, will be speaking at the BIC ‘Building a Better Business’ seminar on 12 April 2018 (further details above). Please email Alex Hardy if you would like to arrange to meet up.

Breakfast Seminar: Brand value for content creators
Our Intellectual Property team is hosting a breakfast seminar on Thursday 19 April 2018 for publishers, agents and estates who control or manage the rights to valuable brands and characters as well as creators of original content and characters. We are delighted to be joined by Tom Manwaring, Managing Director, ACF Investment Bank. ACF advised on the 2016 sale to Studio Canal of the brand and merchandising rights in Paddington Bear.

For more information on what we will be discussing and to register, please contact our Marketing team.

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