Clear statement from educational sector: we need a better copyright reform

Allegorie op het onderwijs
We need to fix copyright for education
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Yesterday COMMUNIA sent a joint letter to MEPs working on the copyright reform dossier. It is supported by 34 organisations and 17 individuals, all advocates of quality education. In the letter we note our concerns on the phrasing of a new education exception to copyright, as included in the proposal for a directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market.

You can find the full letter, including signatories here. 

We believe that educators should be provided with the autonomy necessary for them to give the best possible learning opportunities for students, and that students and other learners should have the freedom required for effective independent learning. The choice of resources that an educator uses should only be dependent on the need they see in their students. The current proposal from the European Commission does not meet these requirements. There however changes possible to the proposed directive that will create a copyright that supports education.

We have shared three concrete recommendations:

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Call for Signatories: A Better Copyright Reform for Education

Johan de Witt 's nachts op straat aangevallen
Support our Letter to MEPs
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Update February 7th 2017: We have now closed our call for signatories and have updated the supporting organisations and individuals list in the post below. Thanks again for the big support for this call for a better copyright reform for education. 

COMMUNIA, together with other advocates of quality education in Europe, has developed a letter to members of the European Parliament. In the letter we express our concerns that the proposed directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market will make things worse for education. We make recommendations that would help copyright transform into copyright fit for modern, quality, and inclusive education and ask for amendments in line with these recommendations. Please read the full letter here.

Help us in supporting a better copyright for education

We want to gather wide support, so that we can impact the current copyright proposal. If you personally or your organisation wants to sign the letter, contact Lisette Kalshoven (lk@kl.nl). We accept additional signatories until February 6th 12:00 CET. We thank you for your support.

Right now the letter is supported by the following organisations: Continue reading

Ansip is forgetting about important parts of education

Bible Reading
Leaving important educational players behind
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On his blog just before Christmas, Vice President Ansip made a case for a simple copyright law for education to help Europe’s teachers and students. While we can only support a simple copyright law that supports education instead of making it harder for educators to teach, the Commission did not propose such a solution in the directive. The Commission has limited the new exception to official ‘educational establishments’ and has written a preference for licenses over the exception in the text. By doing so they are leaving important parts of education behind.

Leaving important players behind

Ansip writes about the important transition from solely physical education to embracing digital technologies. In the process, the patchwork of exceptions to copyright for educational purposes across Europe blocks much innovation in education:

Unfortunately, there are many differences around Europe in how these exceptions are applied, especially when it comes to using copyright-protected material in digital or online teaching activities.

Digital technologies are transforming the teaching and learning environment. They are being used more and more throughout education: laptops in the classroom to show video clips, interactive whiteboards to display webpages, for example.

But current EU law does not properly address digital’s significant presence and influence in the learning environment. It needs to catch up.

This makes it strange that the Commission’s definition of ‘learning environment’ is so limited to official educational establishments in the proposed directive. Education is understood today as a lifelong process that is conducted by a multitude of institutions, and even learners themselves. This was noted in the Commission Communication ”Making a European Area of Lifelong Learning a Reality” and the subsequent Council Resolution of 27 June 2002 on lifelong learning. Yet, when defining copyright law, the European Commission fails to embrace its own lifelong learning approach by limiting the potential beneficiaries of the proposed exception to ‘educational establishments’. 

In doing so, the proposed exception will leave unharmonised the digital uses for educational purposes made by other individuals and organisations, such as the great value that museums, libraries, archives, professional associations, and civil society organisations give to education. Think for example of education about the dangers of drugs that civil society organisations provide for teenagers, or the great educational programmes of libraries that help Europeans embrace their local culture. This limitation would also exclude employees, apprenticeships and practical learning as vocational education at their company, which is a key part of Europe’s lifelong learning goal.

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VIDEO: experts on how to make copyright work again

Can we make copyright serve users better? We asked several copyright policy experts from civil society organisations for their view on the current copyright reform: what are the biggest hopes, the biggest fears and their concrete plans to improve the current copyright regime to fit our digital society? Film maker Sebastiaan ter Burg created the video below to share their answers:

The video was recorded during the event Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users co-organised by COMMUNIA and EDRi and co-hosted by MEPs Therese Comodini Cachia and Carlos Zorrinho.

We would like to thank Diego Naranjo (Edri), Raegan MacDonald (Mozilla), Dimitar Parvanov Dimitrov (Wikimedia), Ruth Coustick-Deal (OpenMedia), Till Kreutzer (IGEL) and Gwen Franck (Creative Commons) for their contribution to this video.

CopyrightExceptions.eu: much needed insight into EU exceptions patchwork

puzzle
Harmonisation can solve the puzzle
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This week COMMUNIA founding member Kennisland launched CopyrightExceptions.eu, a website that collects information related to the national implementation of 22 exceptions and limitations to copyright in the EU Member States. CopyrightExceptions.eu provides much needed clarity of the current patchwork state of implementations of the exceptions open to Member States.

Exceptions represent the user rights in EU copyright

While over the years a number of studies have been undertaken to provide insight into the state of implementation of the possible exceptions, there was no easily accessible, up-to-date information resource about user rights across the European Union. In the past few months Kennisland collected and combined the information it could find from multiple sources and had the results reviewed by national experts. Information was gathered about whether an exception is implemented and whether the exception requires remuneration. The tool also includes links to national acts and any other comments on the specifics of the implementation.

User rights are not looking good

While the Commission, based on the recently leaked impact assessment and dito draft directive, aims to solve parts of this non-user friendly patchwork, it is not looking good. The draft directive provides for only a limited TDM exception that will scare away data start ups, and strange licensing requirements in a new additional exception for education. It also doesn’t do much to harmonise important exceptions for the daily lives of citizens (such as freedom of panorama), or cultural heritage institutions (to make out-of-commerce works available). We don’t feel that the forthcoming directive will at all champion a true ‘Digital Single European Market’.

Kennisland, and COMMUNIA with them, believes that a single market means that we need to ensure that all participants in that market have the same rights: rights of creators and rights of the user, and equal in all member states. The directives unfortunately do not require the same harmonisation for user rights as it provides to rights holders.

We need a better harmonised copyright for users in Europe, and we urge you to use CopyrightExceptions.eu to experience for yourself how diverse the landscape of exceptions is, and how far we still have to go.

Mozilla Copyright Campaign: Reform copyright, don’t break the Internet!

MAKE CREATE INNOVATELicentie

In anticipation of the EU Commission’s copyright reform proposal (and just in time for the confirmation that the Commission’s plans will be everything but forward-looking), our friends at Mozilla have launched a new copyright reform campaign. They are taking this step because “it’s time our laws caught up with our technology.”

The campaign focusses on issues which have traditionally been dear to Mozilla, such as online learning, creative expression and innovation. Therefore, the three main strands where Mozilla wants to see an update of the current  EU copyright rules (our summary) are:

  • Update EU copyright law for the 21st century The EU’s current copyright laws were passed in 2001, before most of us had smartphones. We need to update and harmonise the rules to create room to tinker, create, share, and learn on the Internet. Education, parody, panorama, remix, and analysis shouldn’t be unlawful.
  • Build in openness and flexibility to foster innovation and creativity Copyrighted works are remixed, reimagined, and reused in new and creative ways every day. These elements build on existing ideas in a way that breathes new meaning into old content.
  • Don’t break the Internet Some people are calling for licensing fees and restrictions on Internet companies for basic things like creating hyperlinks or uploading content. Others are calling for new laws that would mandate monitoring and filtering online. These changes would establish gatekeepers and barriers to entry online, and would risk undermining the Internet as a platform for economic growth and free expression.

Sign the petition!

All of these issues are ignored by the leaked Commission’s Impact Assessment. This makes Mozilla’s campaign timely and relevant. We fully agree with Mozilla’s efforts to update and fix copyright and urge you to take a look at the Mozilla Campaign and sign the petition.

EVENT Copyright reform: Unlocking copyright for users?

Christus slaapt aan boord van het schip tijdens de storm
European Parliament, September 8
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We happily invite you to the event Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users? that will take place on September 8 in Brussels. The event is hosted by MEP Therese Comodini Cachia and MEP Carlos Zorrinho, and co-organised by COMMUNIA and EDRi.

Join us to discuss key aspects of the current EU copyright reform including the freedom to use copyrighted works (exceptions and limitations) as well as some of the failures of the existing legal framework (copyfails). After the event we invite you to lunch in Jan 3q Brasserie.

Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users? – agenda

11:15 – 11:20      Introduction
Anna Mazgal, Communia

11:20 – 11:25     Welcome
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia (EPP)

11:25 – 11:35      How to understand the L&E practice better?
Launch of copyrightexceptions.eu – Maarten Zeinstra, Kennisland

11:35 – 11:45     What doesn’t work?
The #copyfails and ways out of the copy mess – Diego Naranjo, EDRi

11:45 – 11:55     What works?
Presentation of the Best Case Studies – Teresa Nobre, Communia

11:55 – 13:00    Questions and discussion
facilitated by Anna Mazgal, Communia

13:00 – 13:05   Commentary
MEP Carlos Zorrinho (PASD)

13:05 – 13:15   Closing remarks
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia (EPP)

13:15 – 14:00   Lunch
Brasserie Jan 3q Continue reading

Creators sharing in the public domain

De Roof van Europa
The Public Domain strengthens Europe
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Last January, COMMUNIA invited creators to share thoughts about their relationship with the public domain. They spoke at the Public Domain Day 2016 event we organised in the European Parliament, hosted by MEP Julia Reda. We learned from their experiences that copyright can be perceived as a hurdle for creators, that sharing your work into the public domain can make businesses grow, and that the reuse  of materials of which the copyrights have expired can lead to beautiful new things happening.

Sebastiaan ter Burg made a great video about this  event. Watch and learn how a stronger public domain can foster culture and innovation in Europe:

2016 promises to be a crucial year with regard to the future of the public domain. Later this year the European Commission will—for the first time in over 15 years—propose changes to the EU copyright rules. This provides the opportunity to adopt policies that will strengthen the public domain. You can read more here on how COMMUNIA thinks that can be done.

Invitation to Public Domain Day celebration in the European Parliament

Affiche Delftsche Slaolie
Celebrate Culture with us in the European Parliament
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Join us on January 25th in the European Parliament to celebrate Public Domain Day. This day falls on the first day of the new year and marks the term of copyright protection on creative works.

This new state for cultural works means that they are now free to be reused for new cultural, commercial, educational and innovative practices. During the lunch-event in the Members Salon we will talk about the value of the public domain in fostering Europe’s innovation capacities, by inviting creators to share how they use public domain works in their businesses and approach copyright.

Speakers include our host in the European Parliament Julia Reda (MEP, The Greens EFA – Germany), Alek Tarkowski (Director Centrum Cyfrowe), Paul Keller (Director Kennisland).

Please RSVP for this event to Lisette Kalshoven at lk@kl.nl

For more details please refer to the official invitation.

83 MEPs say ‘no’ to ancillary copyright in Europe

Royal 15 E.VI, f.21 (Talbot Shrewsbury book via British Library)
Fighting against Ancillary Copyright
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Last week’s Communication from the Commission did not explicitly state that they plan to introduce ancillary copyright in Europe, but it was very easy to read between the lines. Research in Spain has shown (and again in Germany) that ancillary copyright is good for no-one, so the echoes from the Commission about considering the introduction of an ancillary copyright was a cause for concern by over 80 MEPs. Together they wrote a letter to the Commission, stating:

While the Communication is taking great care in remaining non-committal in nature and open-ended towards the results, both the setting and supplementing references in chapter 4 are directly and unequivocally pointing towards the first steps towards the introduction of an ancillary copyright for the benefit of press publishers. The European Parliament has on many occasions positioned itself against the introduction of such an ancillary copyright. We urge the Commission to remain focused on a reform of copyright rules that strengthens the European Digital Single Market, fosters creativity and research while being aware of the dangers of undermining the foundations of one of the greatest revolutions in Information Technology.

Contrary to the suggestions in the Communication, there is no ambiguity in the interpretation of EU copyright rules with regards to content that is both legal in nature and freely accessible on the Internet. Sufficient clarity has been achieved with the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Svensson case.

We wholeheartedly agree with the concern expressed by the MEPs, which include signatories Vicky Ford (ECR), Julia Reda (Greens/EFA), Marietje Schaake (ALDE), and Josef Weidenholzer (S&D).

It is essential that we share the views of the public on ancillary copyright and other issues and questions with regard to copyright reform in Europe. You can so so until the end of the month via http://youcan.fixcopyright.eu/.