BRUSSELS – HOTREC, the business association representing the European hospitality industry, welcomes the adoption by the plenary session of the European Parliament of the new Directive on Collective Management of Copyright and calls for its swift transposition into national law.
As an important commercial right-user, the European hospitality industry considers that this new Directive might help tackling some of the long-standing problems regularly faced by hospitality businesses when negotiating licenses with collective management organisations. “For many years, HOTREC has complained about the lack of transparency and cost-efficiency of many collective management organisations. We therefore support this Directive, which has the potential to solve some of the problems faced by right-users, even though we regret that the important issue of one-stop-shops is not addressed” commented Ramon Estalella, HOTREC ExCom member and Chair of its Copyright Task Force.
The text voted by the European Parliament is the result of a compromise agreement reached between the Council and the European Parliament. Following this vote, the Council is now expected to formally approve the Directive rather quickly. Member States will then have to transpose into national law the Directive and its provisions. “The European hospitality industry clearly calls on the Member States to quickly and fully adopt the provisions of this new Directive at national level, in particular the provisions relating to the negotiations with users and to dispute resolutions” further added Mr. Estalella.
The text voted by the European Parliament contains a number of provisions aimed at raising transparency and good governance standards for collective management organisations, while ensuring that licensing terms and tariffs are non-discriminatory and reasonable. Moreover, the Directive explicitly grants the possibility for Member States to provide for independent and impartial dispute resolution procedures to solve conflicts between collective management organisations and right users.
Google case: the Commission misses the opportunity to keep Google as a neutral search engine, says the hospitality industry
HOTREC expresses its strong disappointment about the Commission’s announcement that Google’s new commitments would address its antitrust concerns. “Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia shouldn’t close the respective antitrust investigation on online search and search advertising, as Google’s modified commitment proposal is marginal and even counterproductive”, stipulates HOTREC-President Kent Nystrom. “Organic search results for hotels and restaurants must have a fair chance to be displayed by Google directly and not only via paid aggregators like Online Travel Agents (OTA), Review Sites or third party’s Meta-Search Engines.”
The European hospitality industry considers that Google’s commitments are not sufficient to ensure that Google remains a neutral search engine. Indeed, it is crucial to ensure that organic search results are not disadvantaged compared to commercial or promoted search results (Meta-Search Providers or Google/s own specialised search results). The organic Google search is the only place where individual hotels and restaurants have a fair chance to be visible and offer a direct link to their services without paying high commissions. It is therefore extremely important for consumers and providers that they stay visible.
HOTREC therefore cannot accept Google’s commitments as such, and reiterates once again its request that as a general rule not more than 30% of a page, visible on any screen, should be occupied by paid services (AdWords, Rival links, Google own products), and the rest of the space should be reserved for organic search results. This would give a fair chance for the best fitting result to be clicked, as observations and studies are showing how irrelevant links further down in the results list are to users.
Anyway, the Commission should further investigate into the search engine market. "A stricter regulation is required and the Commission should start an initiative to generally ban brand bidding and keyword advertising by OTAs on external hotel names per se,” claims Markus Luthe, HOTREC ExCom member and Chair of its Distribution Task Force.