In January Communia was invited to participate in the European Commission’s ‘Licenses for Europe‘ stakeholder dialogue. This stakeholder dialogue is one part of the Commission’s agenda to ‘modernise copyright in the digital economy‘. Communia participated in Working Group 4 on Text and Data Mining for Scientific Research Purposes.
Unfortunately the first meeting of this working group which took place on the 4th of February in Brussels did not live up to the expectations raised by the Commission’s earlier announcement. It quickly became evident that the stakeholder dialogue is based on a flawed assumption (‘more licensing will bring copyright in line with the requirements of the digital economy’) and that the process was designed to prevent a serious discussion about how to unlock the potential of scientific text and data mining.
Given this the participating organisations representing academia, researcher community and civil society (including Communia), have decided to make these concerns public in the form of an open letter to the Commissioners Barnier, Geoghegan-Quinn, Kroes and Vassiliou (re-published at the end of this post). The letter which was published today raises a number of concerns that need to be addressed before the stakeholder dialogue on text and data mining can continue.
Chief among these concerns is the belief that in order to have an open discussion about the reform, possible solutions cannot be limited to licensing. From our perspective text and data mining cannot be solved by re-licensing texts to libraries, researchers or the public. What Europe needs is clarity that text and data mining works that are lawfully available does not require permission by rights holders. A stakeholder dialogue that simply declares this position off limits can hardly be called a dialogue at all. In the case of Public Domain content, there is a risk that a focus upon licensing will lead to unlawful re-licensing of content that is out of copyright.
In addition the whole process needs to become more transparent and needs to include all stakeholders (including academics and the Commissions own Research and Innovation Directorate General, which is currently being limited to attend as an observer).
The open letter has been published in the hope of getting the Commission to change the terms under which the stakeholder dialogue is being conducted. Should this not be the case, Communia and the other organisations that have signed the letter are very likely to step away from the dialogue. As the list of supporting signatories shows this is supported by a growing number of academics who are rightfully concerned about the prospects for conducting data driven research in Europe. Continue reading
Last week the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) concluded two new agreements with private companies to digitze over 70.000 old books, 200.000 sound recordings and other documents belonging (either partially or as a whole) to the public domain. While these public private partnerships enable the digitization of these works they also contain 10-year exclusive agreements allowing the private companies carrying out the digitization to commercialize the digitized documents. During this period only a limited number of these works may be offered online by the BnF.
Photo by Scarlet Green (CC-BY)
Together with La Quadrature du Net, Framasoft, SavoirsCom1 and the Open Knowledge Foundation France COMMUNIA has issued a statement (in french) to express our profound disagreement with the terms of these partnerships that restrict digital access to an important part of Europe’s cultural heritage. The agreements that the BnF has entered into, effectively take the works being digitized out of the public domain for the next 10 years.
The value of the public domain lies in the free dissemination of knowledge and the ability for everyone to access and create new works based on previous works. Yet, instead of taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization, the exclusivity of these agreements will force public bodies, such as research institutions or university libraries, to purchase digital content that belongs to the common cultural heritage.
As such, these partnerships constitute a commodification of the public domain by contractual means. COMMUNIA has been critical of such arrangements from the start (see our Public Domain Manifesto) and our Policy Reccomendations 4 & 5. More interestingly these agreements are also in direct contradiction with the Public Domain Charter published by the Europeana Foundation in 2011. In this context it is interesting to note that the director of Bibliothèque nationale de France currently serves as the chairman of the Europeana Foundation’s Executive Board.
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.
On this day, 1st of January 2013, we do not only celebrate the beginning of a new year, but we also celebrate the whole variety of works, knowledge and information that, by entering the public domain, have become freely available to the world.
Given the limited term of protection granted by copyright law, a large number of works – whose authors died several decades ago – can no longer be owned by anyone and their use can no longer be constrained. They have become part of the common pool of knowledge that constitutes our cultural heritage and that can be freely used by everyone and for any purpose.
so it’s the time of the year again where lists of authors who’s works will enter into the public domain on the 1st of january are compiled left and right. Generally these efforts work like this: you start a list of authors who have died in in the year ending 70 years ago (1942) and then compile them into a list and rank them by whatever criterion you wish to apply (notability, specific nationality, etc..).
While this seems rather straightforward it seems like a good opportunity to recall the underlying complexities of calculating copyright term duration: If you have a fast internet connection and a big screen, you may want to take a look at this 25 MB pdf, which depicts the decision trees for 30 european jurisdictions that power the public domain calculators on www.outofcopyright.eu.
The interesting thing about this PDF is not how complex it is in absolute terms, but rather that the subject matter depicted is supposed is something that the EU considers to be ‘harmonized’ (by the 2006 copyright term directive). As you can easily tell by glancing at the image above, copyright duration in the EU is anything but harmonised. In fact, as Christiana Angelopoulos, who compiled the information contained in the pdf, argues in a new paper, we are dealing with 27 different public domains for the 27 member states of the EU. Continue reading
This policy paper proposes to contribute to defining a positive agenda for the Public Domain. It is grounded on a WIPO study by Professor Séverine Dusollier, Communia policy recommendations and Communia previous WIPO statements.
This work-in-progress document presents policy recommendations and strategies aimed at the transnational level, namely WIPO CDIP and SCCR. Legal language will be drafted at a later stage.
Policy recommendations are:
- 1. Definition of a positive status for the Public Domain
- 2. Recognition of the validity of voluntary dedication to the Public Domain
- 3. Facilitating the identification of the Public Domain status
The full policy paper can be downloaded as a pdf: Communia Positive Agenda for the Public Domain and the full text is also available below/after the jump.
COMMUNIA International Association on the Public Domain is publishing a policy paper entitled Position on EC Horizon 2020 Open Access policy before the vote taking place at the European Parliament in November 2012. The policy paper is available as a PDF and reproduced below:
The work of Communia is based on a set of 14 policy recommendations which aim to support policies that enable a rich and accessible Public Domain. In light of these recommendations, Communia welcomes the development of a strong Open Access (OA) policy at the European level around the following main ideas:
Notwithstanding the need to support OA policies, access to copyright protected material for education and research purposes must be improved by strengthening existing exceptions and limitations to copyright, and broadening these exceptions to cover uses outside of formal educational and research institutions.
This CDIP/10 second statement on Scenarios and Possible Options Concerning Recommendations 1c, 1f and 2a of the Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain (CDIP/9/INF/2 Rev.) is following Communia’s previous statements delivered at:
- CDIP/10 commenting on Terms of Reference for a Comparative Study on Copyright Relinquishment (document CDIP/10/14),
- CDIP/9 on the Scenarios and Possible Options Concerning Recommendations 1c, 1f and 2a of the Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain by the Secretariat (document CDIP/9/INF/2) and
- CDIP/8 supporting the Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain by Séverine Dusollier (document CDIP/7/INF/2). Continue reading
WIPO CDIP/10 – Geneva, November 12 to 16, 2012
This statement on the Terms of Reference for a Comparative Study on Copyright Relinquishment by the WIPO Secretariat (CDIP/10/14) is following Communia’s previous statements delivered at CDIP/8 and CDIP/9 supporting the Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain by Séverine Dusollier (document CDIP/7/INF/2) and the Scenarios and Possible Options Concerning Recommendations 1c, 1f and 2a of the Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain by the Secretariat (document CDIP/9/INF/2).
Comments on the Terms of Reference for a Comparative Study on Copyright Relinquishment
COMMUNIA International Association on the Public Domain welcomes the document produced by the WIPO Secretariat in preparation for the tenth session of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) titled Terms of Reference for a Comparative Study on Copyright Relinquishment (CDIP/10/14).
We believe that this document is an encouraging sign for copyright international law-making to commit itself to considering crucial aspects of access to culture and knowledge in recognising the increasing importance of the Public Domain, on the basis of the WIPO Development Agenda Recommendation #16: “Consider the preservation of the public domain within WIPO’s normative processes and deepen the analysis of the implications and benefits of a rich and accessible public domain”.
This post by Lucie Guibault was first published on the Kluwer Copyright Blog and is reproduced here with kind permission of the author.
Last week, the European Parliament approved the draft Directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works. The approval of the Council of Ministers is expected to occur shortly.
This is big news indeed, for it’s the first draft directive in the area of copyright law to make it this far in more than 10 years. It’s been commented and reported by many.
The proposed directive is striking in many respects. Most prominent is the virtually unanimous opinion that the directive ‘is a step in the right direction’, but that it ‘will not facilitate nor promote mass digitization and large-scale preservation of Europe’s vast cultural heritage’. This conjures up the image of the elephant giving birth to a mouse.
The text of the proposed directive went through several iterations before reaching its current stage, including the last amendments brought by the Parliament to the compromise text of last July. Some of the sharp edges have been softened in response to criticism, but the main point of contention remains: how can a cultural heritage institution with millions of items in its collection proceed with digitization if it must conduct prior to use a diligent search for each item? Since this train could not be stopped, cultural heritage institutions are now looking in the direction of their own lawmakers and partner-stakeholders to determine what constitutes a ‘diligent search’ at national level, following the criteria they may establish pursuant to article 3(2) of the directive.