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.

Anne Frank and the Term of Copyright Protection: Why it’s Time to Move from Harmonisation to Unification

Anne Frank campaign cover photo
#readannediary
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The text was written by Katarzyna Strycharz. 

Since the beginning of the year there’s been a lot of discussion (and confusion too) about whether the Diary of Anne Frank is now in public domain. Under the normal rules regarding the duration of copyright protection, the work should have entered into the public domain on 1 January 2016. However, there were several unusual circumstances that brought this into question. First, the Anne Frank Foundation announced their plans to list Otto (Anne Frank’s father) as a co-author, which would extend the protection period of the published diary until 2050. Next, due to a transitional rule in Dutch law it became clear that Anne Frank’s original writings would not enter the public domain in 2016 in the Netherlands (and many other EU countries with similar rules). Finally, in early February the Wikimedia Foundation (the organization that hosts Wikipedia and related projects) decided to remove the Dutch-language text of the diary from Wikisource.

On Tuesday 26 April, World Intellectual Property Day, the original, Dutch-language version of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank” will be published online at annefrank.centrumcyfrowe.pl. With this publication of the original version of the diary we seek to highlight the absurdly long duration of copyright in the EU, as well as the fact that, contrary to general assumptions, the duration of copyright is still not unified across the EU and the troubling fact of geo-blocking which creates boundaries online.

On the Anne Frank Foundation website we can read that “Anne Frank’s original writings, as well as the original in-print versions will remain protected for many decades”. So, when does the copyright of the diary expire? It seems that the answer varies from country to country, and we’ll try to investigate whether there is somewhere in the EU where the writings of Anne Frank are now in the public domain.

Transitional provisions in the Dutch law

To fully understand the issue at hand, we observe that there are actually three versions of Anne Frank’s diary writings. Two versions of her manuscripts (version A and B) were combined into the book (version C). This book is commonly known as the the Diary of Anne Frank, and was published in 1947.

As we have previously discussed, version C was compiled by Otto Frank and thus is still protected by copyright 70 years from the time of his death in 1980. But in the case of manuscripts (version A and B) there is no doubt that Anne Frank was the sole author. As we can read  in the statement of the Anne Frank Stichting (who runs the Achterhuis in Amsterdam)“Otto Frank is not the co-author of the original diary writings of Anne Frank”. The same is confirmed by the Anne Frank Foundation (who own the copyrights in Anne’s work), which claims that “copyrights to Anne Frank’s original texts originally belonged to the author, Anne Frank herself”.

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Page from ‘De Dagboeken van Anne Frank”, published by the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (2001 edition), showing the three versions (from top to bottom A, B and C) of the 9 november 1942 entry in Anne Frank’s diary.

In the Netherlands copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. And even though Anne Frank was killed in 1945, this doesn’t mean that the A and B versions of her diary are in the public domain under Dutch law. This is because the full manuscripts were first published in 1986, and the rule at that time said that works which were first published posthumously are protected for 50 years after the initial publication.

The 2013 Dutch copyright act implementing the 1991 term directive contained transitional provisions stipulating that rights which existed under the previous law continue to exist. This means that versions A and B of the Frank diary will remain under copyright in the Netherlands until 1 January 2037 (50 years after the 1986 publication).

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Summary of 2015 amendments to the Polish Copyright Act

Gdynia, the Polish winter sea
The amendment to the Polish Copyright Act is a step in the right direction, but...
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The summary has been written by Adam Karpiński and the public policy team of Centrum Cyfrowe.

In October 2015, Poland completed the process of amending the national Act on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights. Its aim was to adapt Polish law to the EU requirements:

  1. the Directive 2011/77/EU (the Directive amending the Directive on the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights);
  2. the Directive 2006/115/EC (the Directive on rental right and lending right); and
  3. the Directive 2012/28/EU (the Directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works).

Additionally, the amendment aimed at clarifying or modernising some other rules, including copyright exceptions and the regulation of ‘domaine public payant’ (i.e. royalties for the use of works in the public domain).

The amendment was the result of a consultation and legislative process that lasted over two years. During this time, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage initiated a series of meetings on key reform issues within the framework of the Copyright Forum (Forum Prawa Autorskiego) and gathered feedback from various entities, including Centrum Cyfrowe. This process was characterised by a strong presence of non-governmental organisations, and generated some heated debates between NGOs and representatives of rights holders. Continue reading

Lisbon Council report shows economic value of flexible copyright

Lisbon Council has published the “2015 Intellectual Property and Economic Growth Index”, which aims to provide evidence for impact of different copyright regimes on economic growth. Positive relation between flexible copyright regimes and economic growth, including in the creative sectors, is the main finding of the report.

Paul Keller, from our member organisation Kennisland, has written an opinion about the report. Paul writes that:

[the report] does make one thing very clear: at least in aggregate, broader and more flexible exceptions and limitations to copyright do not undermine the ability of rights holders to generate income from their rights. In addition, countries with more flexible systems fare much better where it comes to growth of their ICT sectors. In other words, adapting the EU copyright rules by making them less restrictive and more flexible will in all likelihood not result in the collapse of the creative industries in the EU. Instead, such a move can be expected to have a positive impact on the economy of the EU.

Paul’s opinion is available on the Kennisland blog. The report is available at Lisbon Council site.

Hugenholtz & Hargreaves on Modernising the European Copyright Framework

Last week the Lisbon Council published a new Policy Brief on Copyright Reform for Growth and Jobs: Modernising the European Copyright Framework. In the policy brief Ian Hargreaves and Bernt Hugenholtz draw up an agenda for copyright reform in the European Union by proposing a menu of policy options that could be implemented relatively quickly.

Copyright reform?

Hugenholtz and Hargreaves start their policy brief by looking at the current situation in Europe, and they do not like what they see: Not only do they consider Europe’s copyright framework to be out of touch with an economy that is shaped more and more by the impact of digital technologies, they are also skeptical about what currently passes for copyright reform in the EU:

In December 2012, the European Commission vowed “to ensure that copyright stays fit for purpose in this new digital context” after a key orientation debate convened by President Barroso. […] As practical steps, the Commission offered two parallel tracks of action. The first, already underway, is a “stakeholder dialogue” to address six issues […]. A second track of work is to arise from a series of market studies, impact assessment and legal drafting work “with a view to a decision in 2014 whether to table legislative reform proposals.”
How does this emerging European approach to reform look in a global context? The answer is it looks rather cautious, given the continued pace of technological change and the increasing indications that other countries are ready to pursue more rapid and more radical reform. History also suggests that Europe will struggle to achieve the political momentum needed to deliver even the modest and piecemeal change of the type currently under discussion.

We have already pointed out the flaws of the Licenses for Europe approach here, so we could not agree more. While the Commission directs critics of the stakeholder dialogue to the parallel review of the EU legal framework that the Commission is currently undertaking, there is very little reason to believe that this will result in any substantial reform agenda. In this situation Hugenholtz and Hargreaves see an urgent need for reform that is both effective and can be implemented within the existing European and international frameworks:Continue reading

COMMUNIA policy paper on proposed Directive on collective management of copyright

Today the COMMUNIA International Association presents its sixth policy paper. The paper is a reaction to the European Commission’s proposal for a directive on collective management of copyright and related rights and multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online uses in the internal market.

The COMMUNIA Association welcomes the European Commission’s efforts to modernise collective management in Europe by providing rules for multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online uses, and more generally by increasing the standards for transparency and accountability of Collective Rights Management Organizations (CMOs) operating in Europe.

Copyright management plays a central role in determining legal certainty for the digitisation of the European cultural heritage and for enabling an accessible and reusable digital Public Domain. This proposed directive intervenes at a crucial moment in the evolution of the information society and in the history of the European copyright system, where innovation and public access to knowledge should be a priority of policy-making.

The policy paper draws attention to two issues where the proposal should be improved. The first one concerns the transparency of repertoire information. We consider the proposed measures not sufficient and suggest an amendment to require that CMOs must provide this information more widely. The second issue concerns the relation between collective management and open content licenses. In our opinion, the proposed directive fails to address the existing incompatibilities between the collective management of rights and open content licensing.

The full COMMUNIA Association reaction on the Directive proposal on Collective Management of Copyright can be downloaded here. For further information about the paper please contact the COMMUNIA Association at communia DOT association AT gmail DOT com.

14 Proposals for a post ACTA reform of copyright and related cultural policies

COMMUNIA member and La Quadrature du Net co-founder Phillippe Aigrain has published 14 proposals for the reform of copyright policy and related cultural policies. The proposal, titled ‘Elements for the reform of copyright and related cultural policies‘ contains 14 interlined reform proposals that attempt to bring cultural policies and copyright in line with the realities of the digital environment.

According to Phillipe Aigrain the time for a constructive discussion on copyright reform on the European level is now:

Now that the ACTA treaty has been rejected by the European Parliament, a period opens during which it will be possible to push for a new regulatory and policy framework adapted to the digital era. Many citizens and MEPs support the idea of reforming copyright in order to make possible for all to draw the benefits of the digital environment, engage into creative and expressive activities and share in their results. In the coming months and years, the key questions will be: What are the real challenges that this reform should address? How can we address them?

Not unsurprisingly for a COMMUNIA member the 14 proposals have a substantial overlap with positions previously voiced by COMMUNIA (see our 14[sic!] policy recommendations): Aigrain addresses issues of alternative compensation for creators, hostage/orphan works, exceptions for educational use and memory institutions, the reform of collective management and the introduction of formalities.

In addition to these issues Aigrain tries to broaden the discussion to also address on questions related to funding for cultural production and the position of creators vis a vis intermediaries. He makes the argument that copyright reform alone is only one side of the coin and that we need to critically review policies related to culture funding as well. This expansion of the discussion makes his proposals especially interesting although it is not hard to imagine that it will be quite a challenge to form a coalition that embraces his entire list of proposals. That, however, does not diminish the value of Aigrain’s contribution and it is up to work towards getting this discussion underway.

As Aigrain and others have argued the moment to start a discussion about copyright reform that is not driven by fear and the interest’s of incumbent industries and intermediaries is now and we need to embrace this opportunity.

Book launch of ”The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture”, Brussels, June 18th, 18:30-20:00

On Monday, June 18, MEP Amelia Andersdotter, along with her colleague MEP Ioannis Tsoukalas, is inviting you to attend the launch of the book ”The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture”, edited by Melanie Dulong de Rosnay and Juan Carlos De Martin as an output of the Communia Thematic Network.

The book is under a CC Attribution license and the PDF can be downloaded here.

”The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture”
18 June 2012
18:30 – 20:00
European Parliament, Brussels, ASP Main Hall
(Ground Floor, in front of the Newspapers Quiosque)

18:30 Welcome: MEP Amelia Andersdotter
18:35 Introduction: MEP Prof. Ioannis Tsoukalas
18:45 The Digital Public Domain – presentation by editors: Melanie Dulong & Juan Carlos De Martin
19:00 Q&A and Discussion / Cocktails
19:45 Closing remarks: MEP Amelia Andersdotter

If would like to attend the event and require access to the Parliament, please register with amelia.andersdotter-office@europarl.europa.eu before June 14, indicating your full name, date of birth and ID number.

More information on the book can be found on the Communia Association’s website.

Link to the invitation on Amelia Andersdotter’s blog.

Edit on 14 July 2012: a video interview of Anne-Catherine Lorrain, Juan Carlos De Martin and Melanie Dulong de Rosnay during the book launch event is available on YouTube. Thanks to Amelia Andersdotter’s team members Julia Reda, Edvinas Pauza and Tess Lindholm.

Sharing the COMMUNIA Thematic Network’s Final Report

We are glad to announce that the COMMUNIA Thematic Network’s Final Report, as approved by the European Commission, is available online: http://communia-project.eu/final-report.

The Report of the eponymous Thematic Network provides a basis for action taken up by its successor, the COMMUNIA International Association. The document is depicting a wide range of issues and is proposing answers to crucial questions:

The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture

The book “The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture”, edited by Melanie Dulong de Rosnay and Juan Carlos De Martin as an output of the Communia Thematic Network which took place between 2007 and 2011 and is at the origin of Communia Association, is out in all formats (hardback, paperback, and digital editions) and can be purchased on the website of OpenBookPublishers.

book cover The book is under a CC Attribution license and the PDF can be downloaded here: The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture

Citation reference: Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, Juan Carlos De Martin, (eds.), The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture, Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK, 2012, 220 p.

This book brings together essays by academics, librarians, entrepreneurs, activists and policy makers, who were all part of the EU-funded Communia project. Together the authors argue that the Public Domain — that is, the informational works owned by all of us, be that literature, music, the output of scientific research, educational material or public sector information — is fundamental to a healthy society.

The essays range from more theoretical papers on the history of copyright and the Public Domain, to practical examples and case studies of recent projects that have engaged with the principles of Open Access and Creative Commons licensing. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in the current debate about copyright and the Internet. It opens up discussion and offers practical solutions to the difficult question of the regulation of culture at the digital age.