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.

COMMUNIA policy paper on proposed amendments to PSI Directive

Today the COMMUNIA International Association presents its second policy paper. The paper is a reaction to the European Commission’s proposal to amend the Directive on re-use of public sector information (2003/98/EC).

COMMUNIA is supportive of the Commission’s suggested changes to the PSI Directive — most notably the decision to include cultural heritage institutions into the scope of the amended Directive. Access to and re-use of public sector information (PSI) has been one of the issues that has featured prominently in the work of COMMUNIA. The EC proposal to amend the PSI Directive is aligned with one of COMMUNIA’s January 2011 policy recommendations (#13), which states, “The PSI Directive needs to be broadened, by increasing its scope to include publicly funded memory organisations – such as museums or galleries – and strengthened by mandating that Public Sector Information will be made freely available for all to use and re-use without restriction.”

The policy paper draws attention to two issues where the proposal to amend the Directive should be improved. The first one concerns the conditions for re-use of public sector information that falls within the scope of the Directive and the second one deals with public domain content that is held by libraries, museums and archives.

Conditions for re-use of public sector information 

From the perspective of COMMUNIA the way the amended Directive addresses licensing of public sector content remains underdeveloped and as such has the potential to create diverging and potentially incompatible implementations among the Member states. The article of the amended Directive dealing with licensing mentions “standard licenses,” but does not sufficiently clarify what should be considered to be a standard license, and encourages the development of open government licenses. Instead of recommending the use and creation of more licenses, COMMUNIA suggests that the Commission should consider advocating the use of a single open license that can be applied across the entire European Union. Such licenses (stewarded by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Creative Commons) already exist and are widely used by a broad spectrum of data and content providers.

Public Domain Content held by libraries, museums and archives

COMMUNIA supports the decision to include cultural heritage institutions under the purview of the PSI Directive, as such a move will improve citizens’ access to our shared knowledge and culture and should increase the amount of digitized cultural heritage that is available online. While the amended Directive makes it clear that documents held by cultural heritage institutions in which there are no third party intellectual property rights shall be re-usable for  commercial or noncommercial purposes, it does not address the largest category of works held by cultural heritage institutions — those that are not covered by intellectual property rights because they are in the public domain. COMMUNIA thinks that explicitly including public domain content held by libraries, museums and archives in the re-use obligation of the amended PSI Directive will strengthen the Commission’s position with regard to access and re-use of public domain content.

The full COMMUNIA association reaction to the EC’s proposal to amend Directive 2003/98/EC on re-use of public sector information can be downloaded here. For further information about the paper please contact the COMMUNIA Association at communia DOT association AT gmail DOT com.

COMMUNIA policy paper on the proposed orphan works directive

Today the COMMUNIA International Association presents its first policy paper. The paper analyzes the European Commission’s proposed directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works (COM/2011/0289) in the light of its effects on the Public Domain. The paper contains suggestions for improving the directive to make it more suitable to the stated objective of increasing access to cultural heritage material that is currently locked away by a dysfunctional copyright system.

COMMUNIA is especially concerned with the narrow focus of the directive and its one-sided view on diligent search. In its current form the directive does not meet COMMUNIA’s March 2011 policy recommendation on orphan works:

Recommendation #9: Europe needs an efficient pan-European system that guarantees users full access to orphan works. Both mandatory exceptions and extended collective licensing in combination with a guarantee fund should be explored. Any due diligent search requirements should be proportionate to the ability of the users to trace the rights holders.

According to the policy paper, a main weakness of the proposed directive is its narrow focus on public cultural heritage institutions as the only beneficiaries of the proposed exceptions allowing the use of orphaned works:

It is COMMUNIA’s position that the group of users who may benefit from the orphan works directive should be widened to include everyone. The targeted group of end users should include individuals as well as non-profit initiatives like Wikipedia, which would currently not benefit from the proposed directive. Wikipedia is one of the most important platforms for access to cultural heritage information drawing more than 136.9 million European users alone.

A further concern is the vague standard for search.

There need to be mechanisms to determine the location where a search has to be carried out in cases where the works have not been published or where it is unclear where the works in question have been first published.

The full set of comments in the COMMUNIA policy paper on the proposed orphan works directive can be downloaded here. For further information about the paper please contact the COMMUNIA Association’s Orphan works working group at communia DOT association AT gmail DOT com.

NEW: Policy recommendations postcards

At the occasion of the 1st Digital Agenda Assembly and the corresponding launch of the COMMUNIA Association, the COMMUNIA Association has published a set of 14 postcards with 14 policy recommendations. The policy recommendations have been drawn up by the members of the COMMUNIA project and they serve as guidelines for the works of the new COMMUNIA association.

The recommendations adress a range of issues that are relevant to the protection and strengthening of the (digital) public domain. While the policy recommendations have been drawn up with the European policy framework in mind many of them are more general in nature.

With the postcards we hope to bring attention to the role of the public domain in the digital environment and encourage participants of the DAA and Europeana policy makers to take concrete steps in safeguarding and strengthening the Public Domain. The postcards provide concrete recommendations many of them tied to issues that are currently on the European Digital Agenda such as access to orphan works and access to Public Sector Information.

communia postcards

The policy recommendations are aimed at European policy makers and the postcards will be distributed during the 1st Digital Agenda Assembly. The postcards combine the the policy recommendations with reproductions of 14 artworks that are in the Public Domain. A pdf file containing all 14 postcards (front-side only) is available here and PDF files of the individual postcards are available on the policy recommendations page.

The Public Domain Manifesto

Developed within the COMMUNIA network during the last two years, we are pleased to announce the official launch of The Public Domain Manifesto. The document outlines a series of general principles (opening with: the Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception), then addresses various issues relevant to today’s cultural landscape finally provides some recommendations aimed at protecting the Public Domain and ensuring that it can continue to function in a meaningful way. While these recommendations are applicable across the spectrum of copyright, they are of particular relevance to education, cultural heritage and scientific research.

The Public Domain as aspired to in the Manifesto has a broad range to include cultural material that can be used without restriction, in the absence of copyright protection; shared material released under alternative licensing options such as Creative Commons licenses; and a variety of fair use and “open access” policies. These sources need to be actively maintained in order for society to reap the full benefit of our shared knowledge and culture, even more so with the wider penetration of digital technologies. It is therefore our hope that The Public Domain Manifesto will be embraced by the civil society at large as a tool to maintain and promote this precious common goods for citizens across the world and for future generations to come.

The document is available in several languages and includes a list of initial signers (both individuals and organizations). Everyone is encouraged to sign it.