Policy Papers

This page contains all policy papers published by COMMUNIA Association. COMMUNIA policy papers analyse legislative proposals and other policy issues in the light of their effects on the Public Domain and are published at irregular intervals.

  1. COMMUNIA policy paper on the proposed orphan works directive
  2. COMMUNIA policy paper on the proposal to amend the EU Directive on re-use of Public Sector Information
  3. COMMUNIA EU Positive Agenda for the Digital Public Domain
  4. COMMUNIA WIPO Positive Agenda for the Public Domain
  5. COMMUNIA Position on EC Horizon 2020 Open Access policy
  6. COMMUNIA policy paper on proposed Directive on collective management of copyright
  7. COMMUNIA policy paper on digitization agreements for Public Domain works
  8. COMMUNIA Policy Paper on the re-use of public sector information in cultural heritage institutions

COMMUNIA policy paper #8 on the re-use of public sector information in cultural heritage institutions (November 2014)

This policy paper looks at the ongoing implementation of the the European Union’s Directive 2013/37/EU amending Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information (PSI). One of the major new features of the PSI directive is the inclusion in its scope of libraries (including university libraries), museums and archives.

While laudable in principle, the inclusion of cultural heritage institutions in the scope of the directive raises a number of questions related to how Member States should implement the new PSI directive. If Member States are not careful, the implementation of the changes required by the new directive could do more harm than good to cultural heritage institutions. In order for the directive to meet its overall objective, i.e. to contribute to opening up the resources held by Europe’s cultural heritage institutions, three main recommendations for member states can be formulated:

  1. Member States should implement the Directive in line with the principles established by Article 3 and ensure that all documents that are not currently covered by third party intellectual property rights fall within the scope of the Directive.
  2. Member States must not implement the Directive in such a way that encourages or requires institutions to charge for the reuse of works that they make available for reuse. The decision to charge for reuse must be up to the individual institutions. If this is not the case the Directive will limit access and reuse of the public domain.
  3. For documents that are still protected by intellectual property rights but where these rights are held by the cultural heritage institutions, Member States should encourage the use of Open Definition-compliant licenses, such as the Creative Commons licenses or the Creative Commons Zero mechanism. This applies in particular to metadata produced by cultural heritage institutions, in the limited cases where these metadata can attract copyright (such as long form descriptions of cultural heritage objects).

The full policy paper can be downloaded here.

COMMUNIA policy paper #7 on digitization agreements for Public Domain works (June 2014)

In the context of the 2013 Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive which adds Museums, Libraries and Archives in the list of Public Sector Bodies (PSBs) that have to make their information reusable, the COMMUNIA International association elaborated a policy paper with a view to make policy recommendations for cultural institutions to preserve the Public Domain when using digitization services provided by private entities.

Recommendations from the policy include:

  1. No copyright protection over the digitized version of public domain works or over newly published works
  2. No contractual restrictions over the use of digitized copies
  3. Respect of openness & transparency principles

The full policy paper can be downloaded as a pdf: COMMUNIA policy paper on digitization agreements

COMMUNIA policy paper #6: on proposed Directive on collective management of copyright (January 2013)

The COMMUNIA International Association sixth policy 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

COMMUNIA policy paper #5: Position on EC Horizon 2020 Open Access policy (November 2012)

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 welcomes the development of a strong Open Access (OA) policy at the European level. All publicly funded research outputs and educational resources must be made available as open access materials (aligned with the Budapest Open Access Initiative). 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. Communia Association calls the Members of the European Parliament to establish a clear OA policy:

  1. OA mandate for all publicly-funded research output
  2. Eliminate sui generis rights on databases
  3. Prevent unfair publishing agreements

The full policy paper can be downloaded here.

COMMUNIA policy paper #4: A Positive Agenda for the Public Domain (November 2012)

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 as a blog post.

COMMUNIA policy paper #3: Progressive Agenda for the Digital Public Domain: A reply to the Call of the Greens/EFA group at the European Parliament (September 2012)

The paper is a reply to the call for a progressive agenda on creation and innovation launched by the Greens/EFA group in order to raise awareness on the various components of a positive agenda for “Intellectual Property” at the European Parliament. COMMUNIA states that the Public Domain should be recognized positively. Through the current prism, the Public Domain is only considered as a vague “non-IP protected” zone. The policy paper aims at proposing to the European policy-makers clear definitions which can fit into existing European law (the paper focuses on the Copyright Directive), towards a clear understanding and recognition of the Public Domain by the Member States. COMMUNIA Association calls the European policy-makers to:

  1. Define a legal status for the Public Domain. The positive definition of the Public Domain shall be part of the legal instrument: new articles are proposed for the Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC).
  2. Protect the Public Domain from private appropriation and underuse: the use of works in the Public Domain should not be limited by any means, either legal or technical.
  3. Recognize the legal validity of voluntary dedication of works to the Public Domain by their authors.
  4. Facilitate the identification of Public Domain works through registration mechanisms and Rights Management Information, thus avoiding the increasing phenomenon of “orphan works”.
  5. Promote the development of adapted rights management models like extended collective licenses.
  6. Raise awareness about the Public Domain among all stakeholders and citizens through the promotion of the Public Domain Day, a Communia initiative launched in 2010 and celebrated each year’s January 1st).

The full paper can be downloaded here

COMMUNIA policy paper #2 on the proposal to amend the European Directive on re-use of Public Sector Information (January 2012)

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.

COMMUNIA policy paper #1: on the proposed orphan works directive (October 2011)

This policy paper (released on 27 October 2011) 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.