Internet users and authors say “no!” to more rights for publishers

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More rights for publishers? A really bad idea!
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The European Commission’s public consultation on a neighbouring right for publishers and on the freedom of panorama closed on Wednesday. While the Commission has yet to publish the results of the consultation, Copyright 4 Creativity and Save the Link – who have both been providing tools that encouraged internet users to respond to the consultation – have published data on the responses that they have forwarded to the Commission.

The 2819 responses collected by Copyright 4 Creativity show a very clear picture. According to C4C, 96% of the respondents indicated that the introduction of new rights for publishers (either in the form of an ancillary copyright for press publishers or of a generic neighbouring right for all publishers) would have a strong negative impact on publishers, authors and other rightsholders, educators, researchers, online service providers and end users. This is a pretty resounding NO! to the misguided notion that the problems of the publishing sector can be solved by creating rights out of thin air.

Open Media, the organisation behind the Save the Link campaign, gathered more than 35.000 signatories (including 9937 from the EU) supporting the following statement:

a new ‘neighbouring right’ limited to [press] publishers and the creation of a new neighbouring right covering publishers in all sectors, will each have a strong negative impact on consumers, end-users, and EU citizens.

Now both C4C and Save the Link have both targeted internet users who are critical of an expansion of copyrights. It is therefore not really surprising that that these number show strong opposition to the introduction of new rights that provide publishers and other rights holders with more control over the internet. However, it is relatively hard to imagine that the other responses that the commission has received will change the overall picture of strong opposition to the idea of a neighbouring right for publishers. Continue reading

EU, #fixcopyright and adopt the parody exception across Europe

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The parody exception cultivates the French tradition of satire. When the goal is to make people laugh, anybody can freely create a distinctively different mockery of a protected work. This encourages creativity and freedom of expression.

Within the Best Case Scenarios for Copyright series, we present France as the best example for parody. Below you can find the basic facts and for more evidence check the Best Case Scenario for Copyright – Parody in France legal study. EU, it’s time to #fixcopyright!

Exception/Limitation: Parody
Country: France

02 - Parody Share

What is a parody exception?

  1. Rooted in ancient Greek, the term “parody” includes works of mockery, as well as quoting or referencing an older work in a modern interpretation of it. In France, parody implies adapting or borrowing from a work with the intention of having fun.
  2. The exception is justified by freedom of expression.

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Time to #fixcopyright and free the panorama across EU

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Freedom of panorama is a fundamental element of European cultural heritage and visual history. Rooted in freedom of expression, it allows painters, photographers, filmmakers, journalists and tourists alike to document public spaces, create masterpieces of art and memories of beautiful places, and freely share it with others.

Within the Best Case Scenarios for Copyright series we present Portugal as the best example for freedom of panorama. Below you can find the basic facts and for more evidence check the Best Case Scenario for Copyright – Freedom of Panorama in Portugal legal study. EU, it’s time to #fixcopyright!

Exception/Limitation: Freedom of Panorama
Country: Portugal

Best Case Scenarios FoP

What is freedom of panorama?

  1. Derived from the German word Panoramafreiheit, freedom of panorama generally refers to the right to visually document works of architecture, sculptures, street art, or other copyrighted works, as long as they are permanently located in public spaces. In Portugal, the exception covers all sorts of documentation—not only photographs and video footage.
  2. The exception is justified by freedom of expression and public interest.

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Best Case Scenarios for Copyright

Kaart van Europa, ingekleurd als koningin and Europa volgens de nieuwste verdeeling
EU, time to #fixcopyright
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The copyright was originally meant to promote creativity and innovation, but instead it’s become outdated, overly complicated, and even threatening to some users. Fortunately there are still ways to fix copyright and the EU is in a unique position to do it. The European Commission should look into best examples of national-level solutions and apply them within the current reform. We present several best examples of exceptions and limitations that should benefit citizens in their access to culture and education across Europe.

Time to #fixcopyright and free the panorama across EU

EU, #fixcopyright and adopt the parody exception across Europe

Wide education exception is the best case scenario to #fixcopyright in EU

The right to think is the right to quote – #fixcopyright with wide quotations exception!

How to #fixcopyright with a great copyright limitation? A recipe for lawmakers

Reform – the dealmaker or the dealbreaker for citizens?

The current copyright system fails us on so many levels that we know the forthcoming EU copyright reform won’t fix it all. Given the pressure from creative industries to introduce new rights in order to protect their existing business models, the outlook is not very good. Instead of engaging in discussions and actions that would rebalance copyright, users and public interest organizations engage in battles against bad policy ideas.

Best Case Scenarios

It is time to tell the EU that while it plays with the elusive vision of the Digital Single Market by inventing how to tax linking, there are some good solutions that already work in member states. Exceptions and limitations to copyright, so dreaded by many rights holders, do not break the creative industry in Portugal and France or the educational systems of Estonia and Finland. They simply work! To the benefit of creators, artists, students and users, reinforcing creativity, freedom of expression and providing good balance of the interests of rights holders and citizens.

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Your voice counts – only 12 days left

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Make your voice heard!
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The current European Commission public consultation is about ancillary copyright as well as the ‘panorama exception’. We encourage you all to show support for a strong, mandatory freedom of panorama exception in Europe and to say “no” to ancillary copyright. COMMUNIA has already submitted their feedback, and you can let your voice be heard as well. Responses to the Commission’s survey must be received by June 15, and you can check out how to answer the questions with the guide at http://youcan.fixcopyright.eu/.

Why are these issues important for you?

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.

Even more worrying is adopting additional rights on top of a copyright system that is fundamentally broken. This is neither contributing to the Commission’s objective of modernizing the EU copyright framework nor adapting it to the challenges of a fast-evolving digital environment. Creating new rights (which are next to impossible to retract) is not a suitable method for managing the relationship between different market segments and the public. The ancillary copyright will cause substantial collateral damage to education and access to knowledge. Continue reading

Lisbon Council calls for broad text and data mining exception to promote EU research competitiveness

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The right to read is the right to mine!
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Yesterday the Brussels-based think tank The Lisbon Council published the policy brief Text and Data Mining for Research and Innovation: What Europe Must Do Next. It was written by Sergey Filippov and Paul Hofheinz. In the paper, the authors analyse contemporary text and data mining (TDM) trends, and make recommendations for how European policymakers can better support researchers who wish to engage in TDM activities.

The authors observe that Europe has fallen behind other parts of the world in text and data mining research. One reason is due to the ambiguous legal environment in Europe surrounding TDM. In 2014 the United Kingdom adopted a copyright exception for text and data mining for non-commercial research purposes, but the situation for other countries in Europe is not so clear. The European Commission has not been entirely helpful, either. In their December 2015 communication on copyright, they said they would consider introducing an exception for TDM. However, instead of recommending a robust exception that would truly support text and data mining as an increasingly important research tool, the Commission suggested a narrow interpretation that would restrict TDM only to those affiliated with a “public interest research institution”, and only for “scientific research purposes.”

In their paper, Filippov and Hofheinz say that European researchers may be “hesitant to perform valuable analysis that may or may not be legal”, and that scholars “are forced, on occasion, to outsource their text-and-data-mining needs to researchers elsewhere in the world.” They recognize that some of the language in play—such as “public interest research organisation”, “scientific research purposes”, and “non-commercial”—could be open to misinterpretation, or even be at odds with the underlying public policy intention.

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COMMUNIA response to Commission’s consultation on ancillary copyright and freedom of panorama

A woman shouting into a man's ear-trumpet. Wood engraving.
Make your voice heard!
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The European Commission’s public consultation on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain and on the ‘panorama exception’ wraps up on 15 June. COMMUNIA has submitted its response (PDF) to the questionnaire. Our answers reflect the role of COMMUNIA as a non-profit organisation that defends the public domain and advocates a copyright system that benefits users, creators, educators, researchers and cultural heritage institutions. Below we provide a summary of our responses to both parts of the consultation.

Ancillary copyright for publishers

It will come as no surprise that we oppose the creation of a new neighbouring right for publishers. Doing so would have a strong negative impact on all the audiences identified in the questionnaire, including publishers, authors, journalists, researchers, online service providers, and users.

For the majority of publishers, it would establish an unnecessary (and often unwanted) additional right that they would have to deal with, and could even make it harder for them to grow and develop innovative business models. And perhaps more to the point, the experiments with ancillary rights for press publishers in both Spain and Germany did not result in increased revenues. Instead, it likely decreased the visibility (and by extension, revenues) of their content—exactly the opposite of what was intended.

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European Commission fails to ban geoblocking, does not give up on plans to cripple online platforms

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It's not a Digital Single Market if there is geoblocking!
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Yesterday the European Commission unveiled five more elements of its Digital Single Market Strategy. These consist of new e-commerce rules (including a legislative proposal to address unjustified geoblocking), updates to the EU audiovisual rules and ‘a targeted approach to online platforms‘. From the copyright perspective the geoblocking proposal and the communication on online platforms are most interesting.

Geoblocking for online content is now officially justified

While it is not a surprise it is still disappointing that the Commission has given in to pressure from rightsholders and now considers geo-blocking of online content ‘justified’. At least that is the message it is sending out with the legislative proposal that applies to all electronically supplied services except ‘services the main feature of which is the provision of access to and use of copyright protected works or other protected subject matter‘. It takes a lot of guts to sell such a proposal as an element of a digital single market strategy as it effectively reinforces the territoriality of the digital market place for content in the EU.

This failure of the Commission to deliver on the core of its promise to create a digital single market has caused Julia Reda to launch a new campaign website that aims to stop all forms of geoblocking once and for all (we encourage you to go there and register your disappointment with the path the Commission has taken). Geoblocking of content is one of the most irritating barriers when it comes to access culture online and seriously undermines the legitimacy of the copyright system as a whole.

Intermediary liability regime remains unchanged

The most interesting part of yesterday’s announcements concern the Commission’s plans for regulating online platforms. With regards to that the Commission published both its communication on Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market and its analysis of the earlier consultation on on that matter. In the past we had expressed concerns that the Commission might consider changes to the intermediary liability regime established by the e-commerce directive which could have far reaching negative consequences. Continue reading

The Copyright Joke

Cure of Folly (Extraction of the Stone of Madness)
EUIPO's Q&A on copyright
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How many European lawyers does it take to explain copyright? Start with 28 and add another dozen, because opinions vary. Even a basic project of explaining key copyright issues to EU citizens in 15 Q&As demonstrates that not only is European copyright fragmented into 28 incompatible systems but also that explaining the law is time-consuming and sometimes plainly ridiculous.

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Guestpost: Looking beyond Google for online access to EU culture and knowledge

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Europe needs a fair, legal framework
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Last month the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from US authors who attempted to overturn a prior decision that Google’s scanning of millions in copyright books amounted to “fair use”. This refusal marks the end of a decade long legal fight about the Google books project. This means that in the US Google is free to scan and index in copyright protected books, in order to allow internet users to search the contents of the books.

The fact that Google is allowed to do this has received much criticism, not only from authors in the US but also from rights holders and media in Europe. Much of this criticism has been directed to the fact that the ruling allows a commercial entity to provide access to the full corpus of literature published in the US, but misses a much more important point.

As Ellen Euler, the Deputy Managing Director for Finance, Law, Communication of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek points out in her guest contribution below, this means that internet users in the US have access to a much broader body of knowledge and culture than the internet users in the EU. According to Euler we should not see Google Books as a threat to culture but rather as a reminder that Europe urgently needs to create a legal framework that enables access to the collections of our libraries, archives and museums, preferably by allowing them to make their collections available via their own online platforms.

Looking beyond Google for online access to EU culture and knowledge

by Ellen Euler

In the the digital and networked 21st century, cultural heritage institutions have an extended mandate: they must not only provide local access to culture and knowledge, but are also expected to make their collections available via the internet. As we spend an increasing amount of our time online, expect to be able to view and enjoy the the rich collections of our libraries, museums, and archives. And it’s important to provide online access to enable the discovery and innovative reuse of our shared cultural commons. As Tim Berners-Lee, one of the inventors of the web, sums up: “What’s not on the Net, is not in the world”.

When we digitize content from cultural heritage institutions, we begin the process of opening those materials to the world. As Armand Marie Leroi, a humanist and professor of evolutionary biology once said, “digitisation transforms them from caterpillars into butterflies”. Digitized texts allow us to pose entirely new questions and acquire new knowledge based on full-text searches and via other analytical tools and methods. This type of information mining is no longer restricted only to texts. Image recognition tools, combined with standardised metadata and geographical data, make it possible to interrogate other types of content too. We can use new quantitative research methods to test hypotheses and create linkages between bodies of knowledge. We can create virtual research environments to enable the contextualisation of collections within a broader framework.Continue reading