Last call to push for a good EU copyright reform for education: Joint conclusions from the ETUCE-EFEE-COMMUNIA conference

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Support for clear and broad exception for education and research purposes
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Today, we publish joint conclusions on better copyright for higher education and research together with ETUCE / EI federations of teachers’ trade unions and EFEE, the European Federation of Education Employers. This document is an outcome of a joint high level conference organized on 11 April 2018 in Brussels, with the financial support of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

The event marked for us an important opportunity to discuss with education stakeholders how copyright law can support sound educational policy. This been the goal of our Copyright for Education project, initiated two years ago. Through this project, we have been aiming to strengthen the visibility and position of education stakeholders in the copyright reform debate – in particular with extent to issues like the education exception, which affects them directly.

This joint initiative was coordinated by ETUCE, also with the goal of lobbying for good copyright for education during the vote in the European Parliament on 20 June. The shared conclusions from the conference partners stress that:

#1: A genuine copyright exception

Educators would benefit from an EU-wide education exception – without mandatory remuneration – , which educators can rely upon across the European Union and which defines a minimum standard. Removing copyright restrictions on the digital use of illustrative materials including textbooks for educational purposes would increase legal certainty as this would reduce the financial burdens on education systems and institutions.Continue reading

Voss’ unbalanced approach to the education exception

The Shop of the Bookdealer Pieter Meijer Warnars on the Vijgendam in Amsterdam
legislators should care about teachers, not publishers
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During the recent high-level conference on copyright in higher education, which we organized with the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE), we had the pleasure of hosting MEP Alex Voss. It was a rare opportunity for us to hear the rapporteur for the Copyright in the DSM Directive dossier speak about the educational exception. Here is our critical take on this speech, which gives a good sense of how Mr. Voss sees the issue of copyright and education.

Mr. Voss defined the general question as defining “when to pay, and when to use copyright protected works freely”. We believe that we will never have good copyright for education if we see it as just an issue of transfer of funds.

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Estonian Presidency makes one more step towards licensing educational content

Soap Bubbles
Do not import across Europe Extended Collective Licensing for education
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Do you remember the idea of educational fair use? The idea that education can benefit from a broad, flexible exception for a wide range of uses of copyrighted content while teaching and learning? The question is worth asking, as this progressive approach to copyright and education has not been mentioned even once in the ongoing European copyright reform process. It is a sign of how far away we are from right copyright for education. Instead, we are being pulled ever deeper into an opposite model, in which licensing is seen as the best copyright solution for educators and educational institutions. The Council of the European Union has just made one more step in that direction.

A quick reminder where we are with the copyright reform process in Brussels: the key vote in the JURI committee is continuously extended, and currently is planned for January 2018. The date should be seen as tentative. In the meantime, one more committee – the civil liberties committee LIBE – will make it’s vote in late November (but with a sole focus on the controversial article 13, the content filter article). As we await decisions to be made in the European Parliament, a proposal from the Council, prepared by the Estonian Presidency, has recently surfaced. Unfortunately, it spells one more step towards the licensing chasm for the educational sector.Continue reading

Can Open Education succeed without copyright reform? Reflections from UNESCO 2nd World OER Congress.

An Evening School
OER policy and copyright reform go hand in hand
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Between 18-20 September we travelled to Ljubljana to attend the 2nd World Open Educational Resources Congress, organized by UNESCO. Our aim was to raise awareness about educational exceptions as complementary means for achieving the goals of Open Education.

Unfortunately, the new Ljubljana OER Action Plan, adopted by UNESCO members at the Congress, does not include actions related to copyright reform. We will continue working with the UNESCO OER policy community to change this.

Educational exceptions, and other issues related to how copyright law regulates education, have traditionally not been considered by the OER stakeholders. The Paris OER Declaration, which was the result of the first UNESCO OER Congress in 2012, failed to see educational exceptions as means of facilitating use and reuse of resources in education.

Our session, titled “Right Copyright for Education Worldwide” aimed to raise awareness about the importance of copyright law, and encourage OER stakeholders to get involved in copyright reform processes around the world. The session was organized in co-operation with the Slovenian Intellectual Property Institute.

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Proposal for ancillary copyright for publishers threatens Open Access and Open Science

Imprimerie en Lettres : l'operation de la casse (fragment)
No taxes on Open Access!
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In July, ITRE Committee voted on an opinion that proposes to extend the ancillary copyright for publishers beyond the press, to include also academic publishers (read our commentary from July). In response, a large group of European academic, library, education, research and digital rights communities has published an open letter on Wednesday. In it, they point out that the proposed law will threaten Open Science and Open Access, and directly contradict the EU’s own ambitions in these fields.

Communia Association is one of the signatories of this letter. We are urging other organisations, especially those active in the fields of Open Access and Open Science, to express their support by signing this letter. Additional signatures will be collected until 1st October – you can sign the letter using this form.

Ancillary copyright extended

Ancillary copyright for publishers, a new right to collect payments and to control the use of headlines and snippets of news articles, has been one of the most controversial parts of the Proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Both the rapporteur in the JURI Committee and the Estonian EU Presidency currently support this flawed proposal . They do so despite heavy criticism – not just from civil society, academia and libraries, or digital economy companies, but even from some of the Member States.

Press and academic publishers have completely different business models, based on different value creation chains. While press openly publishes content on the Web, academic publishers sell the works of academics at a hefty price, and with a heavy markup. Angelika Niebler, Herbert Reul and Christian Ehler, ITRE members who proposed the amendment that extended the right to academic publishers, have provided no rationale for granting this new right also to academic publishers. They also failed to explain why they are supporting a regulation that will create burdensome and harmful restrictions on access to scientific research and data, as well as on the fundamental rights of freedom of information.Continue reading

CULT Committee wants educators to pay for content that they now use for free

The corn vendor who does not ask for money
CULT final opinion spells disaster for education
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(With Teresa Nobre).

Last week, the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) of the European Parliament voted on its final opinion concerning the Commission’s Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Copyright law in the shape proposed by the CULT MEPs would spell disaster for educators and educational institutions across Europe.

This post aims to provide educators with an overview of the changes to the draft Directive proposed by rapporteur Marc Joulaud, a French MEP from the EPP group, and then through amendments by the members of CULT. We start with an analysis of two clashing logics visible in the CULT debate, followed by an overview of key decisions made during the vote. We finish with advice on next steps in the ongoing fight to secure an educational exception that meets the needs of educators.

If you want to learn more, we have been covering the policy process from the start, with a focus on how the new law will affect educators.

Copyright and education: two clashing views

There are two clashing viewpoints in the ongoing debate on the new educational exception, and each represents a different approach for how to achieve the goals defined by the Commission in its Communication on the DSM strategy and subsequent Directive. These goals include “facilitating new uses in the fields of research and education” and providing a “modernised framework for exceptions and limitations”—which will result in a situation where “teachers and students will be able to take full advantage of digital technologies at all levels of education”.Continue reading

Support Diego Gómez, prosecuted for sharing academic research

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Diego Gómez is a Colombian student who for the last three years has been prosecuted for sharing an academic paper online. He faces criminal charges – up to eight years in prison. Diego’s story is a symbol of a broken copyright system that becomes a barrier to research and education. And at times simply hurts people.

Last month, Diego was cleared of charges by the Bogotá Circuit Criminal Court. Yet only three weeks later the author of the paper, who in 2013 informed authorities and pressed charges, appealed the decision. The case, which has been ongoing for 4 years, will therefore continue in the appellate court. And Diego can still go to jail for sharing knowledge.

Diego is being supported by Fundación Karisma, the Colombian digital rights organisation. Karisma has launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to pay for legal expenses. As Communia, we are supporting the campaign and helping raise $40,000 for this case. Please consider joining the Compartir no es delito: Sharing Is Not A Crime campaign. It is time to end an unfair case that has been a burden for Diego for the last four years.Continue reading

The Delhi University case: equity in education more important than copyrights

Xerox Stand in Mumbai
"Copyright is not a divine or natural right"
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As the copyright reform process continues in Europe, it is worth noting the result of an Indian case concerning photocopying and the extent of the educational exception. In 2012, Delhi University and a small photocopy shop named Rameshwari Photocopy Service were sued by Oxford and Cambridge University Presses together with the Taylor & Francis Group. The publishers alleged that the photocopying of substantial excerpts from their publications and issuing or selling them in course packs infringed their copyrights. They also argued that Delhi University should obtain a license from the Indian Reprographic Rights Organization in order to make the copies.

Publishers lost both the initial court case and the appeal. In what can be seen as a landmark case, the court provided an expansive interpretation of the Indian educational copyright exception. It highlighted issues of educational equity as a central feature of the decision. The Delhi University case is worth considering as we debate copyright and education in Europe. In the ongoing reform, we should focus our efforts on advocating for what a well-functioning education ecosystem requires to promote successful teaching and learning, and less on protecting publishers’ licensing solutions.Continue reading

Communia at WIPO: copyright needs to empower teaching and learning

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Fixing copyright at WIPO
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The bi-annual meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) took place last week in Geneva. Teresa Nobre and Alek Tarkowski participated in the meeting on behalf of Communia, which has observer status. We were particularly interested in the debate on exceptions for education.

As Communia, we have until now focused our policy work on the European Union (albeit we were present at WIPO, as observers, briefly for debates on the public domain in 2012). We decided to start attending SCCR meetings in order to address the issue of good copyright for education also at global level. We hope that we can contribute to set out a global education exception.

In Geneva, we joined a broad coalition of civil society organizations and groups, and representatives of public interest institutions such as libraries or archives that have been participating in these meetings. Our particular focus is on education, an issue that until now has not been strongly represented by civil society observers at WIPO. We are hoping to change this situation. Delia Browne, who represented Creative Commons as a representative of Creative Commons Australia, joined us at the meeting.

The issue of exceptions and limitations to copyright has been on the WIPO agenda for years. In 2013, the Marrakesh Treaty was signed, requiring all WIPO members to provide a domestic copyright exception that allows the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works for visually impaired persons. The exception secured by the treaty is an important win, and a clear evidence that a global copyright standard that supports public interest can be established through the WIPO process.Continue reading

Education and copyright: we were promised an exception but are offered licenses instead

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In its communication on the copyright framework, the European Commission has promised to clarify the scope of the existing exception for illustration of teaching, and its application for digital uses. The overarching goal was to have a mandatory exception that is relevant and effective in the digital age.

Having read the leaked draft of the proposed Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, it is clear to us that these goals will not be met. The proposed educational exception, despite having some good elements, will overall worsen the legal environment for educators. And it likely will introduce major costs for public educational systems around Europe.

The licensing narrative

The worst part of the proposed exception is a rule that gives member states the right not to apply the exception, if adequate licenses are provided by the rights holders. This is a rule that in practice makes the exception powerless as a tool for supporting education through legal means at the European level, as member states ultimately will decide whether to provide an exception. And it’s hard to imagine that they will be willing to avoid the rule “no exception can exist if licensing options are available”.

Around Europe, educators depend on the exception to conduct innovative, modern education. Yet they often fall into a grey zone of legal uncertainty – in the most typical scenario, a teacher sets up a school film club, only to find out that viewing films might not be covered by an exception. At that point, a commercial intermediary usually presents itself, and offers a licensing option. There is nothing wrong with that – other than that public school systems are not able to cover these costs. According to our analysis of the situation in Poland, if every school had to purchase one of the available licenses, the public budget would have to invest half the amount it pays every year for financial support to poor students. These are large amounts that could be invested otherwise in generally underfunded educational systems. The proposal does not seem to draw conclusions from this scenario, and seems happy to force educational institutions to adopt licenses – as there won’t be any exception available, to provide a safe, free space for educational uses.

The Commission argues, in the leaked Impact Assessment, that data from member states where licensing options proliferate show that “costs are rather limited if compared to establishments’ overall costs”. This comparison is misleading and unhelpful. Surely, licensing would cost less than upkeep of thousands of school and academic buildings, or that which is allocated for educators’ wages. But licensing fees can still be large sums—which most of the time do not fit into tight budgets. And we need to remember that the ECL scheme, demonstrated by the Commission as a best case scenario, functions well only in rich, Scandinavian countries. Continue reading