Marc Joulaud, the rapporteur for the Culture and Education Committee of the European Parliament, points out in his draft opinion issued last week that the Commission’s copyright proposal ignores many of the most pressing concerns of internet users. At the same time, he fails to deliver adequate solutions to these problems. In this post we discuss his proposed amendments concerning the exception for user-generated content (UGC), and Article 13. The inclusion of a UGC exception is a step in the right direction. But the proposed amendments to Article 13, the section which introduces a filtering obligation for online platforms that allow users to upload content, make the already-harmful article even worse for users.
Adding a vague definition of ‘digital content platforms’
Joulaud recognizes that the scope of services potentially affected by Article 13 is quite unclear.
It is the Rapporteur’s opinion that the proposal does not define with enough precision the scope of services falling under the requirements of Article 13 of this Directive, creating legal uncertainty and a potential broader effect.
However, the solutions he proposes do not strengthen the legal certainty for those entities who might be covered under the article; they make it worse. Joulaud proposes a new definition of entities obliged to use upload filters called ‘digital content platforms’. This definition is aimed to center around the principle purpose of services instead of the activity of storing. The draft opinion is unclear regarding which information society service providers would count as ‘digital content platforms’, and it’s also uncertain whether these platforms would still receive the protection of the liability limitations of the eCommerce Directive. Just like the Commission’s proposal—which remains vague on how it will affect the safe harbor protection—Joulaud’s suggested amendment doesn’t provide any more clarity to the situation.
Upload filters don’t—and can’t—respect user rights
The most important flaw of the draft opinion is that even though Joulaud seems aware of the importance of user rights, he still tries to reconcile ‘effective’ content recognition technologies with user rights, including exceptions and limitations and freedom of expression. This is an impossible task. Continue reading
We’re taking part in Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of the law, and addressing what’s at stake, and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation. COMMUNIA is happy to participate in this initiative and ready to share his thoughts on the topic of today: “21st Century Creators”.
The principle of supporting 21st century creators is the idea that ‘copyright law should account for the interests of all creators, not just those backed by traditional copyright industries. YouTube creators, remixers, fan artists and independent musicians (among others) are all part of the community of creators that encourage cultural progress and innovation.’
Technological developments in the 21st century have opened many new possibilities for creators to create and distribute their works. With digital technologies and the web, it’s super easy to copy and share creativity. It’s also simple for users to take and share the work of others without their permission. And while some of this copying and sharing could likely be copyright infringement, there are other types of sharing that should be permitted. The problem is that our law are sometimes ill-equipped to make a distinction. For example, everyday harmless creations on the internet are an infringement of copyright, such as creating a funny meme based on a copyrighted work. We believe that these sort of everyday actions—including remixing or transforming existing works into new creativity—should be possible without breaking the law. Continue reading
COMMUNIA organised the first meeting of our new project ‘Copyright for Education’ at the beginning of December. We invited over a dozen stakeholders and experts from the education field, from organisations such as Wikimedia Deutschland and the Reading and Writing foundation. One of the essential questions of the meeting was how can we collaborate for a better copyright for education. We want the broad education sector to have a voice in the current copyright reform.
The transformation of education
Participants in our meeting discussed how technological developments have opened a lot of new opportunities for educators. It has become easier to share and collaborate with one another, even when you are miles apart – as proven by the European eTwinning project. Many organisations and schools are already working on transforming education in the digital age. They are adapting the mindset of Erasmus, the European exchange program that enables EU students to study abroad, to the way they share, teach and collaborate.
Yet copyright does not adapt quickly enough to keep up. Everyone at our workshop was able to share concrete examples of copyright problems in education from their own experience. For example, for many teachers it is unclear if and how they can share material as simple as a poem. They do not always know if they can link it in an email sent directly to their students or should put the link in the closed network of the school. We cannot simply attribute this to a lack of knowledge on copyright. Copyright should be clear and consistent, so that you do not have to be a copyright expert alongside being a teacher.Continue reading