EU Presidency proposes compromise on draft Directive on collective management of copyright

The 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 is now awaiting first (and single) reading by the European Parliament (indicatively foreseen in November). According to the European ordinary legislative process (the Directive proposal is following the ordinary codecision procedure), the Parliament is asked for its opinion on the proposed legislation before the Council adopts it. In the framework of the inter-institutional dialogue, the Conciliation Committee of the Council of the European Union issued a compromise text (aka ‘Presidency Compromise’) aiming at reconciling the positions of the EP and of the Council.

The Compromise text was adopted in early April (to our knowledge, it has not been widely circulated but has been made available online by the Austrian Parliament). The adoption of this text at a rather early stage of the legislative procedure, suggests that a possibility of a conclusion at first reading exists. However, it does not take account of the draft reports released by the Parliamentary Committees a few weeks after. As we highlighted earlier, the opinion drafted by MEP Helga Trüpel for the CULT Committee shares some core arguments with Communia’s policy. The deadline for tabling amendments on the leading Committee’s report (JURI) is June 6th.

It is thus interesting to look more closely at the content of the Compromise text to have a better idea about what the Council would be ready to vote for at the present time of the procedure (more than the Parliament insofar as the guessing about the final parliamentary vote is very uncertain at this stage of the procedure), although new matters of discussion may arise during the amendment and ‘lobbying’ period.Continue reading

Copyright policymaking and the digital public domain: a bitter-sweet wishful thinking from France

The mission on culture at the digital era commissioned by the French government and supervised by Pierre Lescure, rather pompously entitled ‘Acte II de l’exception culturelle’, released its report this week in Paris: ‘Rapport sur la politique culturelle à l’ère des contenus numériques’, downloadable in two volumes on the website of the Ministry of Culture (in French).

The Lescure Report is a new step in the policymaking on creative content in the digital society in France. Following the presidential elections last year, the new government wanted to induce reflection about the future of the HADOPI system adopted by the former government, and more generally on the protection of national culture on the Internet. The ambition heralded by this mission was big, so were the expectations about the resulting report.

The Report addresses a wide range of issues (the first volume of the Report is about 480 page-long) spanning copyright exceptions, non-commercial sharing, liability of intermediaries, financing models to support culture digitization, digital libraries, online clearing of rights on photographs and copyright enforcement. Among its key proposals, the Report argues for the prolonging of the graduated response, albeit under new conditions and under the responsability of another administrative authority (the HADOPI authority would disappear), as well as a new taxing system targeting telecommunication operators meant to finance the transition of cultural industries to the digital age. Moreover, the Report concurs with conservative views on copyright enforcement and discards the proposals elaborating alternative remuneration systems for rightholders and legalizing non-commercial sharing of copyrighted content. Not surprisingly, it has been criticized for being skewed towards industrial interests and in carrying on the repressive policy against webusers (read the critical view from La Quadrature du Net on the ‘wishful thinking and real dangers’ of the Report). Continue reading

‘Orphan Works’: European Parliament and European Council Announce Agreement on Draft Legislation

The European Parliament and the EU Council announced on June 6th to have achieved one further step toward EU legislation on ‘orphan works’ (we’re deliberately using ‘orphan works’ with comas because if this appellation is commonly used, it is based upon a metaphor being potentially misguiding; see our former post on Prof. Lydia Loren’s proposal on the ‘hostage works’ appellation).

Based upon the draft Directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works tabled by the Commission in 2011 (COM/2011/0289), about which COMMUNIA expressed some Policy Recommendations, the two European regulation bodies have come to an agreement. Although the deal is said to be ‘informal’ (it still has to get final approval from the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs, Parliament as a whole and in the Council), it shows the ongoing efforts of the European regulator to move on with the ‘orphan works’ issue. The text of the agreement has not yet been made available. According to the press-release from the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs:

“This legislation would allow everyone to access such “orphan works” and take forward the project of making Europe’s cultural heritage available online.”

It seems that the agreement would not bring major changes to the Commission’s proposal. This lets us think that our concerns about the shortage of the Directive are to remain, especially as regards its impact on the digital Public Domain. Nevertheless, a few elements unveiled by the press-release deserve some comments.Continue reading

Sharing the COMMUNIA Thematic Network’s Final Report

We are glad to announce that the COMMUNIA Thematic Network’s Final Report, as approved by the European Commission, is available online:

The Report of the eponymous Thematic Network provides a basis for action taken up by its successor, the COMMUNIA International Association. The document is depicting a wide range of issues and is proposing answers to crucial questions:

Public Sector Information to be discussed in Bruxelles

The European Thematic Network on Legal Aspects of Public Sector Information (LAPSI, coordinated by Politecnico, NEXA Research Center, Torino) is hosting its 2nd public conference in Bruxelles on January 23rd & 24th.

As the European Commission is presenting a proposal for a Directive amending the 2003 Directive on re-use of public sector information, the question is now about how to implement the proposed amendments in practice, with the purpose of enhancing innovation and genuine public access to open data. Since 2003, the technical and societal environment of public sector information has changed, while raising issues deserving an adapted legal framework, be it as regards IP rights, competition and the protection of private data and access to information. While the Commission representative addresses the EU “Open Data Strategy”, all the high level experts and academics gathered at the conference (Marco Ricolfi, Séverine Dusollier, Hanns Ullrich, Josef Drexl, Miram Bitton, Mireille van Eechoud…) seem to agree that the legal minefield might be difficult to avoid.

COMMUNIA’s Policy Paper on the Commission’s proposal of amendment to the PSI Directive is publicly presented at the conference on January 24th by Daniel Dietrich from the Open Knowledge Foundation. While COMMUNIA supports the need to amend the PSI Directive, and praises the widening of its scope to cultural heritage institutions (despite the amendments do not include all of them), the Association is suggesting several improvements to the proposed text, insisting on the fact that the Public Domain would deserve a more consistent policymaking at the European level.



The Digital Public Domain: Relevance and Regulation

Beyond the wall between what is protected… and what is not. The question was raised in Berlin.

The 1st Berlin Symposium on Internet and Society was held last week (October 25-28, 2011), on the occasion of the inauguration of the Humboldt University’s new multi-disciplinary Research Institute on Internet and Society (IIC, Institut für Internet and Gesellschaft). The event gathered many of the most prominent worldwide experts on Internet issues, accross academic fields and professional horizons.

During the opening session, Prof. Jeanette Hofmann insisted on the fact that research on internet and society has to reach areas beyond “intellectual property” and the usual categories delimitating the way we experience and think the Internet. In that respect, she cited the Public Domain as something that should deserve further study and expertise. This should pave the way to future exciting research projects, which COMMUNIA is keen to follow closely.

The conference proposed many workshops inviting participants to challenge the way we think the digital world (see the sessions programme). One of them was dedicated to The Digital Public Domain: Relevance and Regulation. Based on the excellent paper drafted and presented by Leonhard Dobusch, the discussion was led by Martin Kretschmer, Juan Carlos de Martin and Felix Stadler, and then open with the workshop participants (among whom Prof. Niva Elkin-Noren, Prof. Ingrid Schneider…).Continue reading