As we vocally oppose the proposed new rights for press publishers, we’re often asked what could be done instead to ensure the quality of journalism in the digital era. The good news is there are examples of how good journalism could be assisted. The even better news is that these solutions do not require such level of protectionism as the European Commission seem to think they do.
Scaling up a horrible idea
To recap the issue: the new rights for publishers, called also the ancillary copyright or the snippet levy, would require online services to pay for linking to articles that are up to twenty years old. Almost every news link with an explanatory extract (a snippet) placed in a search engine would be subject to a fee. This measure included in the proposed directive on copyright in the digital single market, despite a spectacular failure of similar mechanisms in Spain in Germany, is heavily backed by powerful media outlets. Their argument: aggregators such as Google news make money on ads placed by the content they aggregate, while the newspapers suffer from the disruption technology brought.
In January 2017 we know better than ever that we need quality journalism as one of driving forces behind democratic debate and choices people make casting election ballots. And we all know it costs. But the assumption that the snippet levy will work if enough countries are bullied into adopting it through a European directive is the textbook example of insanity – it is employing the method that had already failed and expecting a different result. Instead, we should be looking into other European countries where non-regulatory measures improving business models are adopted, and search for an inspiration from places where that level of public interventionism does not happen and publishers have to adapt to the digital age in other ways.
It’s Copyright Week and today’s topic is “Transparency and Representation”. Copyright policy must be set through a participatory, democratic, and transparent process. It should not be decided through backroom deals, secret international agreements, or unilateral attempts to apply national laws extraterritorially. Unfortunately, in many aspects the European Union is not meeting such standards.
The European Union began to consider updating its copyright rules in 2013. In September of last year the European Commission released its proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Unfortunately, the plan fails to deliver on the promise for a modern copyright law in Europe. It also does not take into account results of consultations that the Commission has conducted.
It’s obvious to us that any legislative proposal should be developed from reliable, impartial economic and policy research whose foundation is based on evidence and facts. This information should be broadly available for public inspection, and public institutions should solicit and fairly incorporate feedback from a wide range of stakeholders. The process undertaken by the Commission hasn’t lived up to these expectations.
The debate whether the copyright reform in a proposed shape would be beneficial for Europe or not is now a key topic for digital rights organizations. But what do measures suggested by the European Commission actually mean? COMMUNIA and EDRi have jointly developed a Copyright reform guideline to the “legalese” of the draft directive. We present key issues and solutions that should be taken into consideration by the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who will soon discuss the proposal.
We believe that the current reform is a chance to empower users across Europe to access culture in ways that have been proved not to undermine authors’ revenues. This would boost the creation of new business models that will support authors, creators and journalists, and not only powerful intermediaries such as book publishers and record companies.
The copyright reform should also safeguard freedom of expression and privacy by curbing the surveillance capacity of filtering technologies. The Commission’s proposal fails to take advantage of these opportunities to secure a better future for Europe and European culture.
This week COMMUNIA founding member Kennisland launched CopyrightExceptions.eu, a website that collects information related to the national implementation of 22 exceptions and limitations to copyright in the EU Member States. CopyrightExceptions.eu provides much needed clarity of the current patchwork state of implementations of the exceptions open to Member States.
Exceptions represent the user rights in EU copyright
While over the years a number of studies have been undertaken to provide insight into the state of implementation of the possible exceptions, there was no easily accessible, up-to-date information resource about user rights across the European Union. In the past few months Kennisland collected and combined the information it could find from multiple sources and had the results reviewed by national experts. Information was gathered about whether an exception is implemented and whether the exception requires remuneration. The tool also includes links to national acts and any other comments on the specifics of the implementation.
User rights are not looking good
While the Commission, based on the recently leaked impact assessment and dito draft directive, aims to solve parts of this non-user friendly patchwork, it is not looking good. The draft directive provides for only a limited TDM exception that will scare away data start ups, and strange licensing requirements in a new additional exception for education. It also doesn’t do much to harmonise important exceptions for the daily lives of citizens (such as freedom of panorama), or cultural heritage institutions (to make out-of-commerce works available). We don’t feel that the forthcoming directive will at all champion a true ‘Digital Single European Market’.
Kennisland, and COMMUNIA with them, believes that a single market means that we need to ensure that all participants in that market have the same rights: rights of creators and rights of the user, and equal in all member states. The directives unfortunately do not require the same harmonisation for user rights as it provides to rights holders.
We need a better harmonised copyright for users in Europe, and we urge you to use CopyrightExceptions.eu to experience for yourself how diverse the landscape of exceptions is, and how far we still have to go.
We happily invite you to the event Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users? that will take place on September 8 in Brussels. The event is hosted by MEP Therese Comodini Cachia and MEP Carlos Zorrinho, and co-organised by COMMUNIA and EDRi.
Join us to discuss key aspects of the current EU copyright reform including the freedom to use copyrighted works (exceptions and limitations) as well as some of the failures of the existing legal framework (copyfails). After the event we invite you to lunch in Jan 3q Brasserie.
Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users? – agenda
11:15 – 11:20 Introduction
Anna Mazgal, Communia
11:20 – 11:25 Welcome
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia (EPP)
11:25 – 11:35 How to understand the L&E practice better?
Launch of copyrightexceptions.eu – Maarten Zeinstra, Kennisland
11:35 – 11:45 What doesn’t work?
The #copyfails and ways out of the copy mess – Diego Naranjo, EDRi
11:45 – 11:55 What works?
Presentation of the Best Case Studies – Teresa Nobre, Communia
11:55 – 13:00 Questions and discussion
facilitated by Anna Mazgal, Communia
13:00 – 13:05 Commentary
MEP Carlos Zorrinho (PASD)
13:05 – 13:15 Closing remarks
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia (EPP)
13:15 – 14:00 Lunch
Brasserie Jan 3q Continue reading
We are impatiently awaiting the European Commission’s communication on the copyright reform that should happen on September 21st. We have a list of issues we think it should cover and together with EDRi we want to talk about what doesn’t work and should be changed as well as what does work and should be further reinforced.
On September 8th in Brussels MEPs Therese Comodini Cachia (EPP) and MEP Carlos Zorrinho (PASD) will host an event co-organized by COMMUNIA and EDRi on the possible future scenarios for copyright.
Our friends at EDRi will talk about the copyright deficiencies and areas for change based on their fascinating Copyfails series. We will talk about the need to reinforce users’ rights through the harmonization of limitations and exceptions based on our Best Case Scenarios for Copyright. Kennisland, a Communia member, will present the copyrightexceptions.eu, which collects and visualises where limitations to copyright are implemented in EU member states.
Regardless of the text of the EC Communication we will have our eyes set on the reform that should both protect users’ rights and adjust copyright for the 21st century. We are grateful that MEP Comodini and MEP Zorrinho are hosting this event and help spread this message.
We will publish the agenda of the event and registration info in mid-Agust. Meanwhile, please save the date for this important debate. See you on September 8th, 11:00-13:15 in the European Parliament, Brussels.
With the Best Case Scenarios for Copyright series we have proved that copyright has a brighter side for users. For satire and critique, in teaching, research and journalism, even while preserving memories of beautiful spaces – copyright exceptions help artists, audiences, students, and tourists alike benefit from access to culture and education.
What is important, the copyright exceptions do not break creative markets and don’t put creators out of business. On the contrary – which poet wouldn’t want her poems to be translated in class? Which architect wouldn’t want his building to become a landmark everybody recognizes? Such a massive spread of cultural tropes is possible through the exceptions we have presented: freedom of panorama in Portugal, parody in France, education in Estonia and quotation in Finland.
So what are the mechanisms and tricks that make exceptions great? Any copyright exception needs to balance legitimate interests of both the users and the rights holders. When that balance is achieved we can have more than 4 best case scenarios for copyright.
We have identified 6 magic ingredients that make copyright exceptions and limitations great. Here is how to mix them to #fixcopyright:
The right to quote is a pivotal element of science, study, critique, and art. By evoking somebody else’s words and creations we are able to enter into an intellectual dialog that is a foundation of our culture. Quotations substantiate scientific discourse and discovery of new knowledge. They are used widely in memes that have become a signature feature of social media.
Within the Best Case Scenarios for Copyright series, we present Finland as the best example for quotations. Below you can find the basic facts and for more evidence check the Best Case Scenario for Copyright – Quotations in Finland legal study. EU, it’s time to #fixcopyright!
What is a quotation exception?
- A quotation exception to copyright refers to citations or other uses of protected works as a way to support intellectual creation.
- The exception is justified by the freedom of intellectual creation.
The education exception benefits teachers, students, and researchers who need access to all types of educational and informational resources that are often protected by copyright. This exception balances the right to education with the rights of authors. Maintaining the balance is never easy, and some issues still await their interpretation in Estonia. Still, Estonia enjoys the widest education exception provisions among all EU member states.
Within the Best Case Scenarios for Copyright series, we present Estonia as one of the best examples for education. Below you can find the basic facts and for more evidence check the Best Case Scenario for Copyright – Education in Estonia legal study. EU, it’s time to #fixcopyright!
What is an education exception?
- An education exception to copyright relates to cases where protected works of all types are used for educational purposes or scientific research, both offline and online.
- The exception is justified by the public interest of access to education.
The parody exception cultivates the French tradition of satire. When the goal is to make people laugh, anybody can freely create a distinctively different mockery of a protected work. This encourages creativity and freedom of expression.
Within the Best Case Scenarios for Copyright series, we present France as the best example for parody. Below you can find the basic facts and for more evidence check the Best Case Scenario for Copyright – Parody in France legal study. EU, it’s time to #fixcopyright!
What is a parody exception?
- Rooted in ancient Greek, the term “parody” includes works of mockery, as well as quoting or referencing an older work in a modern interpretation of it. In France, parody implies adapting or borrowing from a work with the intention of having fun.
- The exception is justified by freedom of expression.