The proposal to reform copyright, presented in September, showed that the European Commission does not intend to keep up with the times and create regulations that would support the development of the information society and the Digital Single Market. Unfortunately, it also showed that the voice of civil society is not heard in Brussels. Even when we provide detailed feedback and recommendations, our views are not taken into account.
During CopyCamp 2016 we organized a meeting with representatives of NGOs from Poland and other countries, aiming to talk about how to effectively promote the rights of users in the discussion on EU copyright reform.
We were curious whether the participants of our lunch also believed that existing methods of communicating our positions were not effective enough. And if so, what would we do to make politicians realize that the copyright reform needs to look beyond securing the profits of traditional business models and focus on changes that will support the new digital economy, while at the same time protecting users’ rights.
Together with our invited partners we arrived at three main conclusions:
1. Policymaking doesn’t necessarily rely on evidence
Until now we thought that expert opinions supported by evidence are enough to prove that any solution is either good or bad. In reality, this belief proved to be false. The European Commission uses our expert feedback selectively, and sometimes even to point to alternate conclusions than what we have offered. As a result, user rights are ignored.
2. Together we are strong
The Commission’s copyright proposal mostly ignores the potential of new technologies and the rights of users, and is also the result of corporate lobbying. Organizations can mainly use soft power—that is, the ability to gain supporters thanks to the attractiveness of their demands and the world vision they promote. If we want our recommendations to be realised, we need to work together, coordinate our actions, and support each other.
3. Communication with the world beyond “digital bubble”
Until now, our communication tactics were addressed to people interested in copyright and new technologies. But copyright applies to all of us. If the provisions proposed by the European Commission come into force, it will be to the detriment of all of society, not just specific stakeholders. Therefore, we need to inform teachers, start-ups, researchers, writers and artists, both in Poland and abroad. We must do this in a simple and accessible way to show them that it is also their affair, that it is happening right now, and that we need to engage.
There is little time to act, as the European Parliament has already begun working on the proposal of the Commission. We will participate in this debate together with our partners and will try to elevate the importance of user rights in the reform of copyright for the benefit of all Europeans.
The Copyright Reform – a Guide for the Perplexed – prepared by COMMUNIA and EDRi