European Commission wants feedback on ancillary copyright and freedom of panorama

Vrouw met spreektrompet
Make your voice count
Licentie

We just got done submitting our response to the Commission’s public consultation on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. But there’s no rest for the weary. Next up is the consultation on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain and on the ‘panorama exception’.

COMMUNIA will be responding to this public consultation, and you can too! Answers to the Commission’s survey must be received by 15 June. You can find a helpful answering guide at http://youcan.fixcopyright.eu/ which covers both topics adressed by the consultation. The guide was created by Copyright 4 Creativity in order to mobilize the voice of creators, internet users, and the public in the EU copyright reform process.

Ancillary copyright

Regarding the role of publishers, the Commission wants to “gather views…on the impact that granting an EU neighbouring right to publishers could have on the publishing sector, on citizens and creative industries and as to whether the need (or not) for intervention is different in the press as compared to other publishing sectors.” This “neighbouring right” is also known as “publishers right” or “ancillary copyright”. It’s also been referred to as a “link tax” because it is intended to permit content publishers to charge search engines and other content aggregators for incorporating short snippets or even linking to news articles.

As we’ve written before, ancillary copyright is good for no one. Everyday internet users and consumers of news and articles would then have a harder time finding the news and information they were looking for, and would potentially face more constraints in quoting, linking to, aggregating, or otherwise using works protected by a new ancillary right for press publishers.

There is no decent business case for ancillary copyright either. Spain and Germany experimented with ancillary copyrights for press publishers, and both seem to have failed miserably. The Spanish law ended in Google News shuttering its operation there because it did not make (economic) sense  to have to pay license fees to news publishers for the for the use of snippets as part of a service which primary function is to drive traffic to them. By now the publishers have figured this out themselves as the amount of traffic they receive from Google News and other aggregators has dropped significantly. After the implementation of the new law, traffic to the publishers’ content decreased 6 to 14 percent. The same thing happened in Germany, except the German publishers saw what had happened in Spain and literally gave Google a free license to their content. And it’s not just the big news aggregators that are affected. In Spain, some smaller aggregators shut down entirely. Recently, a small business which curated links and news about Alzheimer’s disease that had to remodel their entire business because of the ancillary copyright law in Spain.

Last year the European Parliament rejected the introduction of an ancillary copyright amendment into the Reda  report, and earlier this year over 80 MEPs wrote a letter to the Commission opposing it.

Freedom of Panorama

The current consultation also asks for input to inform the Commission’s analysis regarding the ‘panorama exception’. Freedom of panorama refers to the legal right to take and share photos, video, and images of architecture, sculptures and other works which are permanently located in a public place. We think that the freedom of panorama should be mandatory across the EU. The sharing of photos taken in public places is an example of an everyday activity that should not be regulated by copyright. This issue was also brought up in the discussion around the Reda report. An amendment was introduced to restrict freedom of panorama to only non-commercial uses, but a huge protest from citizens, photographers, and civil society organisations—including a Change.org petition that received over 500,000 signatures—helped remove the amendment from consideration.

It’s important that the Commission hear from the public about both of these topics. In the coming weeks, we will publish a series of blog posts about questions posed by this consultation. We hope that these posts will highlight what is at stake. Communia will also be responding to the public consultation process, and you can provide your feedback too. Again, responses to the Commission’s survey must be received by 15 June, and you can check out how to answer the questions with the guide at http://youcan.fixcopyright.eu/.

Online platforms: Commission wants to make the internet more like traditional media

Fight with Cudgels
Reform copyright, don't break the internet!
Licentie

Last week Politico published a leaked draft of the Commission’s forthcoming communication on Online Platforms in the Digital Single Market. As the the title suggests, this is another piece of the puzzle in the Commission’s attempt to create a European Digital Single Market. While it does not directly deal with copyright issues, the document discusses important implications for the future of copyright in the EU (and beyond).

According to the Commission, the communication takes into account the input the Commission already received in response to last year’s consultation on the ‘Regulatory environment for platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy’. Back in November—when we urged our readers to reply to that consultation—we pointed out that the Commission was:

… considering measures including the introduction of an ancillary copyright for press publishers (link tax), limitations of the right to link and modifications of the liability limitation for hosting providers.

The leaked draft confirms these expectations—at least in part. It contains language that seems to be intended to undermine the existing liability limitations for hosting providers. In addition, it makes thinly-veiled references to an introduction of an ancillary copyright (which of course fits right in with the recently released consultation on such a right).

An attack on intermediary liability is an attack on the open internet.

With regard to copyright, the most interesting part of the communication is the section titled ‘Ensuring that online platforms react responsibly’. In this section, the Commission seems to praise the existing intermediary liability regime:

Although the present Intermediary liability regime, as set out in the e-Commerce directive, was designed at a time when online platforms did not have the scale they have today, it created a regulatory environment that has considerably facilitated their scaling up. This is in part due to the harmonisation of the exemption of all types of online platforms from liability for illegal content and activities that they do not control. The public consultation showed strong support for the existing principles of the e-Commerce directive, but also the need to clarify certain concepts, including the scope of the safe harbour for intermediary liability, including for online platforms. Given this background the commission intends to preserve the existing liability regime.

Unfortunately, the Commission wants to say one thing and do another. About half a page later the the Commission observes that… Continue reading

COMMUNIA response to IPRED consultation

lillies
enforcement of copyright must not curb creativity
Licentie

Last week COMMUNIA submitted its response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the evaluation and modernisation of the legal framework for the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).

We believe that the existing Directive fails to adequately address the varying types (and by extension, impact) of activities that would technically constitute copyright infringement. This is particularly worrying in the case of online infringement, where many violations occur due to unconscious actions by internet users who are not familiar with complex copyright rules. To be justly enforced, the rules should take into account the fact that there are many forms of incidental or relatively harmless forms of infringements today. The law should weigh the seriousness and impact of these minor infringements when deciding on enforcement measures and damages.

Excessive enforcement of copyright against everyday activities must not curb creativity, freedom of expression, and innovation.

From the perspective of internet users, there is no need to revise the Directive in order to strengthen its enforcement provisions. If anything is to be changed, it should be those provisions that support a better balance between the interests of consumers and the protection of the rights of content creators. The following changes should be considered:

 

  1. Ending both civil and criminal prosecutions of citizens for non-commercial file sharing, and withdrawing from prosecuting the creators of derivative works who produce non-commercial remixes. In addition, criminal penalties for violations of intellectual property rights by individuals should be minimized.
  2. Introducing mechanisms for safeguarding fair use and the public domain, including a ban on direct contractual restrictions on access and use of these materials, or of using digital rights management or other technical mechanisms to prevent citizens from exercising their rights under the law.
  3. Avoiding the situation where ISPs or hosting services are forced to filter content based on the orders imposed by civil courts attempting to enforce intellectual property rights, contrary to the provisions of Directive EC / 21/2000 (“the E-Commerce Directive”). There should not be any involvement of intermediaries other than the notice and takedown rules already in place under the E-Commerce Directive. As highlighted in our answers above, these rules already negatively impact internet users because they do not adequately provide users the ability to file counter notices. The ability of users to oppose and counter unjustified takedowns needs to be strengthened, and rights holders need to be required to take into account exceptions and limitations to copyright before filing notice and takedown requests.

We will continue to monitor the outcomes of this consultation. We’re curious to see how the Commission will take into account responses from end users who have contributed to the consultation via youcan.fixcopyright.eu.

Contrary to what publishers think, Libraries serve the Public

Adreskaart voor boekhandel Scheltema en Holkema
Have the publishers lost it?
Licentie

It is relatively well documented that neither the French nor publishers are big fans of copyright reform. Given this, the comments from the CEO of the French publisher Hachette Livre on at last week’s London Book Fair are not entirely surprising.  

Less than three weeks after the European Commission launched a consultation that appears to be designed to create additional copyrights for publishers, Hachette CEO Arnoud Nourry warned his international publishing colleagues that Google is a bigger threat to publishers than Amazon and greatly benefit from what he called “the European Commission’s senseless attack on copyright”. According to a summary of his talk provided by the Bookseller, he then went on to declare that:

… vast exceptions to copyright law for libraries, for education, for fair use” could provide an opening for Google to rebrand itself as a library, opening up its repositories of scanned content for free and profiting from advertising income [and] questioned why the EC was targeting publishers: “It is as if the Commission had made it a priority to weaken the only European cultural industry that has achieved worldwide leadership. Need I remind you that nine of the 12 largest publishing companies in the world are European?”’

To anyone following the relatively tame course the Commission has charted out for reviewing the EU copyright rules, this looks like a relatively ill-informed overreaction by a publisher who seems to be offended that European legislators dare to even think about modernizing EU copyright without asking the publishing industry for permission first. The obsessive focus on Google as an evil outsider intent to destroy culture-as-we-know-it highlights the unease the traditional publishing sector still feels when it comes to all things digital.Continue reading

Creators sharing in the public domain

De Roof van Europa
The Public Domain strengthens Europe
Licentie

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.

Fair use and the importance of flexible copyright exceptions

Add to your set. Number of favorites: 16 Rijksstudio Share Zoom inZoom out Man kijkt naar de sterren
A universe of limitations to copyright
Licentie

It’s Fair Use Week, and organizations and individuals are publishing blog posts, hosting workshops, and sharing educational media about the implementation and importance of this essential limitation to the rights endowed by copyright. Fair use is a flexible legal tool that permits some uses of copyrighted material without permission from the original rightsholder, such as for use in news reporting, criticism, teaching, and other reasons. A fair use is not an infringement of copyright.

The doctrine of fair use sits under the larger umbrella of limitations and exceptions to copyright. These limitations are a necessary check on the exclusive rights granted to copyright holders. Even though fair use has only been adopted by a small number of countries, in Europe there are several exceptions that are central to supporting permission-free uses of copyrighted content for various public interest goals. Both fair use and flexible copyright exceptions serve the same basic purpose, but under different legal landscapes.

We’ve highlighted several commonsense limitations to copyright that should be adopted and standardised throughout the EU. These include exceptions for educational use, for cultural heritage institutions to be able to share out-of-commerce works online, for freedom of panorama, and for audiovisual quotation. It’s important that these exceptions are made mandatory and are fully harmonised across all EU member states.

We’re especially interested in how limitations and exceptions to copyright can support modern education practices. Last month we published a policy paper outlining the requirements for a progressive EU-wide exception to copyright for educational purposes. This exception should 1) address local and cross-border education needs; 2) be mandatory; 3) be neutral with regard to media type, format, and technology; 4) be flexible; and 5) cover all necessary uses provided they are in accordance with fair practice.

As we observe Fair Use Week 2016, we’re happy to see that users around the world are taking advantage of limitations and exceptions—an important safety valve to the rules of default copyright. We’re hopeful that in the coming months the Commission will support the creation of exceptions that balance the interests of rightsholders with the needs of the public who wish to use copyrighted works in creative and educational ways.

 

Research: Orphan Works Directive does not work for mass digitisation

trainwreck
Orphan Works directive: as useless as expected
Licentie

In 2012 the European Parliament adopted the Directive on ‘certain permitted uses of orphan works by cultural heritage institutions’. The directive intends to fill the gap between the mission of cultural heritage institutions to share cultural works to citizens, and the complex, costly, and sometimes impossible task of locating rightsholders to get permission for online publication of these orphaned yet still-in-copyright works.

COMMUNIA’s 2012 analysis of the directive showed that it was bound to be a train wreck. A preliminary comparative study of the situation in the UK, the Netherlands, and Italy undertaken by the EnDOW project reveals that the national implementations of the directive across Europe do not provide the much needed solution for the problem of orphan works.

Under the directive, cultural heritage institutions are allowed to publish works online for viewing (not re-use) after a ‘due diligence search’ has been performed, recorded, and submitted to the orphan works database at OHIM. Works that have been registered in this database can then be digitized and made available online under an exception to copyright. So far the project only published its initial results, but we can already see that this piece of legislation will most likely not contribute to large-scale use of orphan works by Europe’s Libraries, Museums & Archives.

The main reason for this is that the diligent search requirements established by the directive have been implemented by member states in such a way that the cost of undertaking a diligent search is prohibitive. The study collected over 210 sources, databases, and registers that need be checked in diligent searches in the UK alone. Researchers from Italy found 357 possible databases and registers. Of the 87 identified sources in the Netherlands, 40 were not freely accessible, and 36 of these required personal contact or a physical visit to an institute. Since the legislation requires cultural heritage institutions to be diligent, they need to check each and every source to be covered by the limited exception provided by the directive.

These results illustrate that the EU approach to orphan works is unreasonably complex and won’t adequately address the problem it’s trying to fix. This is further shown in the actual number of orphan works available through the OHIM Orphan Works Database, which currently only shows 1,435 registered works. More than half of them are in the collection of the Dutch EYE Film Institute (which has worked on rights clearance for these works since at least 2008).

The preliminary results of EnDOW provide evidence that the European Union has failed in this attempt to provide much needed digital access to Europe’s cultural heritage. Given that the Orphan Works Directive does not help with mass digitisation projects, this means that there is a continued need to provide legal mechanisms that allow cultural heritage institutions to make works in their collection available online.

Note: This contribution has been written by Maarten Zeinstra. Maarten is technical advisor to EnDOW. The ideas expressed in this post should not be attributed to EnDOW.

7 reasons why the European Parliament’s vision of copyright reform is more progressive than the Commission’s

Schaatsenrijden in een dorp
The Commission has opted for a safe approach
Licentie

While at this stage almost everyone agrees that the EU’s 2001 Copyright Framework is outdated and needs to be reformed, there is a very broad spectrum of ideas of what such a reform should look like. Recently, two of the three EU legislative bodies (who will need to agree on the final outcome) have laid their cards on the table: on the 9th of December 2015 the European Commission presented its long-awaited communication on copyright ‘Towards a modern, more European copyright framework‘ (our comments can be read here), and on the 19th of January the European Parliament followed up with a report on how to achieve a Digital Single Market Act (our opinion on the document is presented here). Next, the Commission will come up with specific legislative proposals before the summer, which will then need to be approved by the Parliament.

In this situation it is interesting to compare the overall positions of these two actors. From our perspective the Parliament’s approach to copyright reform is more progressive.  This is because the Commission has opted for a safe approach that proposes only minimal changes to the existing rules, whereas the Parliament put forward a number of more interesting and substantial ideas on the direction of the reform:  

  1. The European Parliament calls for abolishing the failed Directive on Databases, since the directive is considered to be an impediment to the development of a European data-driven economy. On the other hand, the Commission’s communication doesn’t even mention any changes related to the  Directive. The Parliament’s recommendation would set a positive precedent in abolishing IP rights if they do more harm than good.
  2. Creative Commons licences are perceived by the Parliament as digital forms of collaborative work and communication that should be be taught and applied across national and linguistic borders in education and training, in public research establishments, and to be promoted in public procurement procedures. Such an approach to open licences will strengthen open culture and open knowledge, and is in our opinion worthy of consideration by the Commission, which omitted the issue of open licensing in its communication.
  3. The Parliament encouraged the Commission to examine whether potential issues related to online platforms could be resolved by proper and full implementation of existing legislation and effective enforcement of EU competition law. The Parliament stressed that the limited liability of intermediaries is essential to the protection of the open internet; this is which is coherent with Communia’s approach. But the Commission’s recommendations seem to be more willing to put additional obligations on intermediaries and to change legislative framework, which was demonstrated in the way the Commission’s consultations on this issue was developed.  
  4. The Parliament wants to introduce the rule of free accessibility (a.k.a. open access) of research results which are at least 50% publicly funded. Such approach is very progressive since none of EU member states have thusfar introduced such a rule on a general scale. Currently, provisions promoting open access to scholarly research can be found as requirements in public procurement procedures and some grants programs, but not in national policies.
  5. The Commission and the Parliament have different approaches to text and data mining (even while both agree that TDM should fall under an  exception to copyright to avoid uncertainties in the research community). The Commission wants to allow public interest research organisations to carry out text and data mining of content they have lawful access to, with full legal certainty, for scientific research purposes. However, the Parliament’s suggestion does not include the  limitation to engage in text and data mining only for  “scientific research purposes”. The Commission’s approach would cover an extremely limited set of beneficiaries, and endorse a licensing-based approach instead of creating a harmonized exception for the benefit of researchers across the EU.
  6. The Parliament warns that everyone shall be cautious against indiscriminately promoting the issuing of mandatory pan-European licences as a tool to deal with geo-blocking, since this could lead to a decrease in the types of content made available to users. The Commission seems not to see such a threat, and is willing to give rights holders and distributors the freedom to reach an agreement on licences that would allow for cross-border access to content. Once again, the Commission seems to believe that licencing is the answer to almost all of the challenges surrounding this issue.
  7. According to the Parliament, fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and privacy are among the factors that should be taken into consideration while shaping a comprehensive copyright framework. In addition, the Parliament wishes to explore fair and appropriate remuneration for creators and other rights holders, economic growth, competitiveness and enhanced consumer experience. For the Commission, protection of fundamental rights only matters while discussing enforcement mechanisms.

Without a doubt, the Parliament’s report could have been more progressive by tackling issues such as the threat of ancillary copyright for press publishers, or the need to safeguarding the public domain. And of course the Parliament’s report only provides suggestions for the ongoing reform discussions— the Commission is not required to take the opinions expressed by the Parliament into account when drawing up their proposals. Nevertheless, we hope the Commission will seriously evaluate and integrate some of the Parliament’s proposals. If they do so, it will go a long way in  helping create ‘a more modern, more European copyright framework’, and not simply a temporary remedy for current problems.

The European Parliament and its path toward a Digital Single Market Act

Children of the Sea
The call to abolish the failed database directive is the highlight of the report
Licentie

Creating a fully integrated Digital Single Market (DSM) is one of the main priorities of the current European Commission. The commission has outlined its general approach in last years Digital Single Market communication (which we have discussed here). In reaction to this communication the European Parliament has been working on a report. The report on achieving a Digital Single Market Act, as adopted jointly by ITRE and IMCO Committees on 14 December 2015, was discussed and voted on by the European Parliament on 19 January 2016.

Since the report deals with issues related to the copyright framework of the European Union (among many others, such as boosting access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services, developing the conditions for digital networks and services to prosper, and making the best of the growth potential of digital economy) Communia perceives the discussion on the document as another step in the ongoing processes related to to tearing down digital boundaries that still exist in Europe. The document is also a “demand” for the what should be contained in the Commission’s 2016 legislative proposals.Continue reading

Challenges and problems of EU consultation on copyright

Clear Weather with a Southerly Wind
The Commission should not impose its own objectives and agenda during the consultation period.
Licentie

This post was written by Agnieszka Vetulani-Cegiel. 

The European Commission is willing to cooperate with interested parties (i.e. civil society, interest groups, stakeholders, other entities). The open attitude of the Commission is demonstrated by the inclusion of these parties in the policy-making process, and in work on legal mechanisms. This situation is beneficial to both sides. For the interest groups, it is an opportunity to participate in the policy-making process and to influence EU policies through advocacy and lobbying. For the Commission, it is a way to learn about stakeholders’ views, to earn their support for its actions, and to obtain input to possible legislative proposals.

A big debate on the transparency of the EU policy-making process was triggered by the issuing of the White Paper on European Governance. As a result, since 2001, a range of standards and principles covering the transparency of the policy-making process—as well as relations with ‘interested parties’—has been adopted. Also, the Transparency Register, the Register of Expert Groups, and the Comitology Register were established.

The Commission recently issued a new document called the Better Regulation Guidelines. The Better Regulation initiative aims at making EU action more effective by ensuring that “policy is prepared, implemented and reviewed in an open, transparent manner, informed by the best available evidence and backed up by involving stakeholders”. The Guidelines cover the whole policy cycle: from policy design and preparation, to adoption, implementation (transposition, complementary non-regulatory actions), application (including enforcement), evaluation and revision, and include inter alia Guidelines on Stakeholder Consultation (Chapter VII).

The objective of the Stakeholder Guidelines is to complement and further define the scope of the General principles and minimum standards for consultation set in 2002. It is worth mentioning that a lot of attention has been paid to the mapping of different categories of stakeholders taking part in the EU consultation. It is stated, also, that “open, internet-based public consultation” is mandatory for initiatives with impact assessments, evaluations, fitness checks and Green Papers. The consultation needs to run for at least 12 weeks. Moreover, the Guidelines provide that stakeholders must be enabled to give feedback on the following aspects: roadmaps for evaluations and fitness checks (4 weeks), roadmaps, inception impact assessments (indication of time to be provided after publication), draft delegated acts (4 weeks), draft implementing acts (4 weeks), legislative or policy proposals adopted by the College and, where applicable, the accompanying impact assessments (8 weeks).Continue reading