Filtered Futures: a Conference to examine upload filters after the CJEU ruling on Art. 17

Thumbnail_Filtered_Futures (1)_WP1Licentie

The recent CJEU decision on Article 17 of the copyright directive has defined a framework for the use of automated content moderation. The Court considers filtering obligations compatible with the right to freedom of expression and information as long as they are limited to use cases that allow for a robust automated distinction between legal and illegal content. In the context of Article 17, upload filters may therefore only be used by online platforms to block manifest infringements of copyright law. The Court leaves it up to the Member States to ensure that legal uses remain unaffected by their national transpositions of Article 17.

The judgment raises a host of important questions for the enforcement of copyright law as well as for the compatibility of upload filters with fundamental rights even beyond copyright law. To discuss these consequences, together with Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte we are jointly organizing the “Filtered Futures” conference on Monday, September 19th 2022, in Berlin. 

We are inviting papers from all disciplines contributing to the conference theme. To present your work at Filtered Futures, please complete the submission form by July 10th, 2022. The form asks for a short abstract of your talk. All applicants will be notified by July 22th, 2022.

Continue reading

Twenty copyright policy recommendations for the next decade

On Tuesday, the 31st of May 2022, COMMUNIA presented twenty new policy recommendations that will guide our association’s work for the next decade. We brought together fellow activists, academics, policy makers and other stakeholders from across the copyright policy spectrum in Brussels to celebrate the occasion. Our new policy recommendations build on the principles of the Public Domain Manifesto and replace the previous policy recommendations that have guided our work in the past decade (and which we have evaluated here). 

The event was kicked-off by COMMUNIA president Paul Keller, who in his opening remarks (reproduced in full at the end of this post) argued for the need to put discussion about copyright policy back on the agenda of the EU legislator: three years after the adoption of the DSM directive, it is clear that the EU copyright framework remains a fragmented mess that does not adequately address the needs of users and creators in an increasingly complex digital environment. Paul Keller stressed that COMMUNIA hopes that the new set of policy recommendations will contribute to an open and respectful debate with policy makers and stakeholders from across the copyright policy spectrum about how we can work towards a more just and open EU copyright system that embraces the opportunities offered by digital transformation for users and creators alike. 

In a first reaction, MEP Tiemo Wölken (S&D) welcomed COMMUNIA’s ambition and highlighted the importance of improving the EU copyright framework in the context of ambitions to strengthen the digital public sphere in Europe. See here for a recording of his intervention.

His intervention was followed by the presentation of the new policy recommendations by Paul Keller and Teresa Nobre. In her remarks, Teresa highlighted the evolution of the recommendations to more explicitly address the concerns of both users and creators (instead of users’ rights, the new recommendations focus on usage rights) and the increasing importance of (procedural) safeguards against copyright abuse. Paul and Teresa then walked the audience through the 20 individual recommendations:

The presentation of the recommendations was followed by a reaction from Prof. Séverine Dusollier, who echoed the overall need to reform the EU copyright framework and welcomed the level of ambition contained in the new recommendations. See here for a recording of her reaction.

Continue reading

Join us for the launch of our new policy recommendations on 31st May in Brussels

NPO Launch - WP1Licentie

Join us on Tuesday the 31st of May at 1700h at Townhall Europe in Brussels for the launch of the new COMMUNIA policy recommendations followed by a networking reception. We will present the 20 policy recommendations which we have developed with input from leading academics and access to knowledge advocates over the past months and which will guide our work on a more open and just copyright framework for the decade to come. 

Our new policy recommendations address key policy opportunities for EU lawmakers to expand the Public Domain, increase access to and re-use of culture and knowledge and leverage the power of the digital transformation for society.  

The policy recommendations will supersede the 14 existing policy recommendations that have guided our work in the past decade and have made a real contribution to the evolution of the EU copyright framework. On the 31st we will discuss the new policy recommendations with lawmakers, activists and academics. For this, we will be joined by MEP Tiemo Wölken and Professor Severine Dusollier (SciencePo). 

After the launch of the recommendations (and of our new website), there will be a networking reception with the ability to exchange views with the COMMUNIA core team. 

The event is open to everyone subject to registration here. We kindly ask you to confirm your attendance by Friday, May 27th. In case the max. number of registrations is reached, participants will be confirmed on a first-registered, first-served basis.

We are looking forward to toasting to the next decade with you!

SCCR/42: COMMUNIA statement on limitations and exceptions for education and research

Children of the SeaLicentie

We are attending the 42nd session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) in Geneva. Today, the Committee is discussing the issue of limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities (Agenda Item 8) and the following statement was delivered on behalf of COMMUNIA:

Dear Delegates,

It will not be easy to convince your families, friends, neighbours that policymakers from across the world should spend time discussing how to improve copyright exceptions.

There is absolutely no doubt that the restrictions copyright laws pose on access to knowledge and information condition the right to education and the right to research, and that educational and research exceptions would benefit society as a whole. That is what will determine whether teachers can show a short news report during live-streamed online classes, whether researchers can conduct medical research or track desinformation online.

Yet, the fact that copyright laws are hard to understand will be an obstacle to reforming copyright laws at national level. Therefore, when Global North delegations claim that each one of you can go back to your countries and introduce exceptions that work for education and research in the 21st Century, we say: that is easier said than done.

Indeed, if you look at the national exceptions for education and research in the European Union, before the recent EU-wide copyright reform, you will see that not even the EU Member States were investing time in solving these issues if they had not been forced to do so through a binding regional instrument.

It should also be said that the fact that copyright exceptions are now outdated only in the Global South does not make this issue less problematic for the Global North. Institutions in Europe and North America engage in cross-border education and research activities outside of their regions on a regular basis. Think about EU distance education programmes attended by students located in Latin America or international research programmes involving North American and Asian researchers. It is clear that the lack of the same minimum set of rights across the world prevents these cross-border activities from taking place, affecting both the North and the South.

We understand that this Committee is not ready to make a decision on how to positively affect copyright frameworks to actually protect the right to education and research. At the same time, this Committee has been discussing this agenda item for nearly 15 years.

We believe that it is fair to say that the work undertaken by the Committee so far has not had much impact on the copyright provisions that frame how educators and researchers can have access to knowledge and information. The African Group proposal could change the course of action to make the work of the Committee more useful. We, thus, urge this Committee to use its best efforts to reach an agreement on how to move forward towards more positive and impactful outcomes.

Thank you.

SCCR/42: COMMUNIA statement on the protection of broadcasting organizations

Vrouw met spreektrompetLicentie

In our capacity as permanent observers of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), we are attending the 42nd session of the Committee, which is taking place in a hybrid format of in-person and online participation from 9 to 13 May 2022, in Geneva. 

Today, the Committee is discussing the protection of broadcasting organizations and the following statement was delivered on behalf of COMMUNIA on this agenda item (Agenda Item 6):

Much of the content that broadcasters transmit plays an essential informational, cultural and educational role in our society. Radio and television programs and archives are fundamental to have access to knowledge and information. They are sources of scientific research and are also used as educational materials. We recall that radio and TV-based remote learning have re-emerged in the past years, in response to the pandemic.

Therefore it is essential that educators and researchers have broad and immediate access to broadcast content.

Although the scope of the draft treaty has been reduced, the need for robust limitations and exceptions remains, when legal protection of broadcasters is shaped in the form of exclusive rights.

The problem is that the draft text only says that countries “may” extend the same exceptions that exist for copyright, but, obviously, countries can choose not to do this.

This is more restrictive than the Berne Convention, which has mandatory exceptions for news of the day and quotations, and permissive exceptions for educational and other uses. This may lead to the surprising result that broadcasts are subjected to fewer exceptions than the underlying copyrighted works.

A treaty that creates an additional layer of rights needs to also mandate the corresponding exceptions. Otherwise it ignores the societal and cultural needs related with access and reuse of broadcasts, failing the society as whole.

COMMUNIA condemns rejection of Wikimedia chapters as observers at WIPO SCCR

Standing Committee on Copyright and Related RightsLicentie

Yesterday, China blocked the ad-hoc accreditation of Wikimedia chapters of France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, and Switzerland as official observers to the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Previously, China had rejected the Wikimedia’s Foundation application to observer status to this UN agency.

WIPO SCCR discussions where norm setting in copyright is concerned are of utmost importance to access to knowledge organizations, and observer status is a necessary condition for the six Wikimedia chapters to participate in such discussions. Not admitting the chapters as observers is unacceptable and runs counter to established practice and criteria for admission of observers at WIPO.

China opposed the applications, suggesting that they are subsidiaries of Wikimedia Foundation, whose projects violate the ‘One China’ Policy. China’s position was implicitly supported by Bolivia, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Venezuela, which stressed the need for consensus to approve the chapters’ applications.

Continue reading

Save the date: COMMUNIA’s new policy recommendations to be launched on May 31st

NPO Launch - WP1Licentie

We are pleased to announce that we will launch the new COMMUNIA policy recommendations on Tuesday, May 31st, at 1700 CET, at Townhall Europe in Brussels.

Less than a year ago, we celebrated COMMUNIA’s 10th anniversary, assessing how its foundational 14 policy recommendations contributed to the expansion of the public domain during the 2011-2021 decade. At that time, we also announced that we would update our policy recommendations for the decade to come.

We have consulted with many copyright experts and key stakeholders over the past months to identify new priorities for the decade to come. That process has now come to an end and we are looking forward to presenting the results publicly, in an in-person event that will bring together EU policymakers and academics. The discussion will be followed by an apéro reception at the venue.

The event is open to everyone subject to registration here. We kindly ask you to confirm your attendance by Friday, May 27th. In case the max. number of registrations is reached, participants will be confirmed on a first-registered, first-served basis.

We are looking forward to toasting to the next decade with you!

COMMUNIA

Video recording of the COMMUNIA Salon on the CJEU decision on Article 17

On the 28th of April, we hosted the second COMMUNIA Salon of 2022 to discuss the implications of the CJEU judgment in Case C-401/19, which rejected the request of the Polish government to annul Article 17 and confirmed that this provision can be reconciled with the right to freedom of expression provided that certain users rights safeguards are in place.

The Salon started with João Pedro Quintais (Assistant Professor at the Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam), who presented an overview of the case and the three main takeaways of the judgment, according to his preliminary reading of the judgment. First, the Court clarified that Article 17 follows a normative hierarchy, where the obligation of result to protect user rights or freedoms takes precedence over the obligations of best efforts that exist for preventive measures. Secondly, the ruling makes it clear that ex-post procedural safeguards are insufficient to take care of overblocking; ex-ante safeguards are also required to protect user rights or freedoms. Finally, with regards to filtering measures, it appears that it will be difficult to argue that the judgment leads to a conclusion that is different from the AG Opinion, according to which only manifestly infringing content can be blocked at upload.

Continue reading

Case C-401/19: CJEU limits the use of automated filters and protects user rights at upload

Rechtvaardigheid (Justitia)Licentie

Today, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued its long awaited judgement on the compliance of the new liability regime established by Article 17 of the DSM Directive with fundamental rights. Rejecting the request of the Polish government to annul Article 17(4)(b) and the last half sentence of subparagraph (c), the Court confirmed that Article 17 can be reconciled with the right to freedom of expression because the article also provides ex-ante and ex-post safeguards to users rights that limit its impact on the right to freedom of expression and information.

Article 17 contains sufficient safeguards to minimise the impact of upload filters on fundamental freedoms

According to the CJEU, the preventive measures to monitor and block users’ uploads envisioned by Article 17(4) constitute a limitation on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and information of the users of online sharing services, but such a limitation is compatible with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, since all the conditions laid down in Article 52(1) of the Charter are satisfied. 

The Court held that the risks that the use of upload filters entails for the right to freedom of expression and information of users of sharing platforms have been sufficiently addressed by the EU legislator, which laid down sufficient safeguards in Article 17(7), (8) and (9) to protect those rights: 

  • online sharing providers have an obligation of result to not preventively block lawful content (Article 17(7));
  • those providers are only obliged to detect and block content in on the basis of  relevant and necessary information provided by rightholders and cannot be required to block content which, in order to be found unlawful, would require an independent assessment of the content by them (Article 17(8));
  • additionally, and as final safeguard for situations where, despite the obligation in Article 17(7), those providers nevertheless block such legitimate content, users have at their disposal a complaint and redress mechanism as well as out-of-court mechanisms (Article 17(9)).
Continue reading

COMMUNIA Salon on the CJEU decision on Article 17 and the future of upload filters in the EU

communia-salon-cjeu-c401-19-1000x390Licentie

On the 26th of April, the European Court of Justice will hand down its judgement in Case C-401/19 — the Polish challenge of the fundamental rights compliance of Article 17 of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, which was adopted nearly 3 years ago in April 2019.

On the 28th of April, from 1500h to 1630 CET, we are hosting a virtual COMMUNIA salon to discuss the implications of this highly anticipated judgement and what it means for the national implementations of Article 17. 

Continue reading