Victory for internet users as European Parliament snubs Voss’ copyright mandate

European Parliament (before the internet)
Users’ voices finally heard
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Yesterday the European Parliament stopped in its tracks the problematic copyright proposal put forth by the Legal Affairs committee based on the EC proposal, and voted to open up debate on the directive to the full Parliament. It’s a remarkable win for everyone advocating for progressive copyright reform in Europe.

MEPs voted 318-278 to deny JURI’s request to enter into direct negotiations with the EU Member States and the European Commission, which would have finalised the directive behind closed doors. Instead, yesterday’s Parliament vote will permit all 751 MEPs to table amendments to improve the copyright proposal, beginning in early September.

The vote unfolded on the heels of a massive outpouring of support from nearly a million people calling for a better copyright reform that upholds freedom of expression and users rights, and doesn’t simply capitulate to the demands of a small cohort of corporate rights holders pushing for Article 13 and Article 11.

The outcome rejects the binary rhetoric (and sometimes outright lies) spread by some MEPs and incumbent rights holders that the fight around Article 13 is simply a fight between Big Content and Big Tech. By denying JURI’s fast track on its committee proposal, the Parliament clearly has recognised the importance of many other stakeholders in the debate around the copyright reform, including the rights of users and the public.

MEP and IMCO Vice-chair Catherine Stihler said it best:

There are real concerns about the effect of Article 13 on freedom of expression, raised by experts ranging from the UN special rapporteur David Kaye to the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

And there are real concern voiced by our citizens. Just yesterday I received a petition signed by almost a million people against the JURI committee mandate.

And although there is consensus about the goals behind this law, huge controversy still exists about the methods proposed. Something’s not right here. We owe it to the experts, stakeholders and citizens to give this directive the full debate necessary to achieve broad support.

Yesterday we won, but the fight is far from over. Now that the full Parliament will get an opportunity to suggest improvements to the copyright proposal, we need to redouble our efforts to fix the most egregious parts of the directive, including the harmful link tax and upload filters. But we can also resurface several other proposed changes for which we’ve been advocating, including important edits to improve Article 4 (education exception), Article 3 (text and data mining exception), and other provisions.

Thank you to the countless individuals, civil society groups, academics, libraries, creators, digital rights organisations, and others who have shown incredible support and resilience in fighting for a balanced copyright proposal. The work to #SaveYourInternet continues, and we’ll be there.

Fair and flexible: what we can learn from Canadian copyright law

Spotprent op het bedrog van de firma C. de Bruyn & Zonen
The "fair dealing" exception
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With the EU and other states looking to modernise copyright law for the digital era, education exceptions in copyright law are a hot topic. Particularly, the second paragraph of Article 4 of the proposed directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market that gives room to educational licenses is being contested by educators, learners, and educational organisations. Canadian copyright law includes the doctrine of “fair dealing” — a unique version of a common exception. The European approach sees legal concepts determined by rightsholders through license agreements. Anxious to protect their position of power, representatives of rightsholders in Europe have often pointed at the Canadian exception as a dangerous example that has negatively impacted the educational publishing industry in Canada. These statements do not hold any merit. The Canadian doctrine offers both a solution to the legal question of how copyright exceptions can be drafted to the benefit of education and should inspire countries around the world who want to improve education exceptions. Continue reading

JURI vote results: a better educational exception with a poisoned pill within

European Parliament (before the internet)
Not over yet
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This morning the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) voted on the report on the proposed Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. You can read a broader analysis here.

JURI gave educators across the EU a gift in the shape of an improved educational exception – with a poison pill inside. The Compromise Amendment (CAM6) proposed by Rapporteur Voss was accepted. We are happy that the Commission’s flawed proposal for an exception that secures digital uses for education purposes has been fixed. Educators are given clarity about uses in digital environments, and the scope of the exception has been increased beyond educational establishments and their premises. There is also improved text that makes a contractual override of the exception impossible.

Yet, the poison pill remains: the Commission’s proposal in article 4(2) to give priority to licenses over the exception was adopted. We managed to secure improvement in the phrasing of this license priority: the licenses have to be tailored to the needs and specificities of the educational establishments. Nevertheless, a Member State can decide to switch off the exception, provided that a licensing scheme is in place in a given country. This means that over the coming years we could benefit from a new exception only to see it disappear – which would leave educators depending on remunerated licensing schemes.

Problems with license priority go beyond education

Licensing priority spells problems, not just for educators. It creates a precedent for overrides to any public interest copyright law exceptions. As such, it is a great victory for rightsholders. This reminds us of the “Licenses of Europe” process, in which the Commission and rightsholders tried to convince everyone that licensing is a much better tool for securing user rights than exceptions to copyright. While they failed to do so then, they seem to have won some ground in the copyright directive.

This dangerous precedent for users’ rights is even more alarming when we consider that it goes against the CJEU ruling on the issue of license priority. The Court of Justice of the European Union knew that giving priority to license offers was indefensible, as it would negate much of the substance and effectiveness of the exception or limitation and it would deny the user the right to benefit from the exception. Thus, the Court decided that the 3-step test did not require them to allow rightsholders to unilaterally force users to stop relying on the copyright exception when those rightsholders offered to conclude a licensing agreement with them. This decision represented a major win for users’ rights, and more so because in the US users may not be able to rely on fair use when reasonable licensing options are available.

If we round up today’s vote for education we are happy about the improvements to the exception but mourn what could have been and fear the consequences of this license priority. The fight is not over yet. There will possibly – likely – be a plenary vote in the Parliament where this article, as well as the other disappointing results on articles 11 & 13, could still be challenged.

Launched: copyrightforeducation.eu

c4edLicentie

Today, COMMUNIA launches the copyrightforeducation.eu website, asking for support for a better copyright for education. Let’s raise our voices and spread the word now, so that we can influence our legislators in creating a better copyright law for education.

What you can find in our new website

We believe in policy decisions that are based on evidence. On copyrightforeducation.eu you can find all the studies that we have been conducting in the past years on the issues of copyright and education:

  • Our study that shows that copyright laws in Europe are too fragmented and, thus, lead to inequality among European students, create legal uncertainty for teachers, and limit cross-border collaboration.
  • Our study that shows that most of these laws are too narrow, preventing educational activities that take place everyday in schools all over Europe, such as the use of an entire image in an educational resource or the screening of a film in class.
  • Our study that shows that licenses restrict the scope of protection of the educational exceptions, grant questionable rights to rightholders and impose burdensome obligations on schools. Therefore, the EU proposal, which prevents copyrighted materials from being used under the education exception from the moment that such materials become easily available in the market under a licence, is a bad solution.
  • Documentation showing that educators support a good solution for copyright, in other words, a mandatory exception that cannot be overridden by contracts or licenses, that facilitates cross border use, and does not oblige Member States to provide for remuneration for each and every use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes.

We need to act NOW

A vote will soon take place on the shape of European copyright law. European legislators listen mainly to the voice of copyright rightsholders. We need to change that now.

We are asking for a law that grants educators and learners freedom to use copyrighted content. Educators should not be forced to rely on licenses, which spell new costs and burdens.

Those who teach, learn and create, exchange information for the benefit of European society. They deserve a copyright framework that enables them to provide modern, innovative education. Education fit for the Europe of the 21st century.

Copyright needs to be reshaped in order to facilitate modern education which spans the lives of learners, and takes place in a variety of formal and informal settings, online as well as offline.

European educators and learners need an education exception that is mandatory and cannot be overridden by contracts or licenses.

Educators should not need to be lawyers to understand what they can and cannot do. We believe in transparency. Educators would benefit from an education exception on which educators can rely across the European Union. This would create legal certainty for educators.

What you can do to help

Please visit the website copyrightforeducation.eu and if you support a better copyright for education, act now:

– Reach out to your MEP https://voxscientia.eu/call-to-action/
– Sign up for our newsletter on Education and Copyright
– Contact us at education@communia-association.org

Communia at the CC Summit18

Children of the Sea
Gathering of the Open Community
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The Creative Commons Global Summit is each year one of the key events for the open community. Next week, we are packing our bags and joining over 500 open activists and copyright reform advocates in Toronto. Communia has been founded largely by Creative Commons activists, who wanted to support the Public Domain and do something about European copyright reform. We share with CC the values of the (digital) commons and strive for a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world where creativity can blossom.

The Summit is for us first of all an opportunity to plan collaboration with other activists for the coming year. This year, the Summit program has a strong focus on copyright reform and we are excited to build together the Creative Commons Copyright Reform Platform. We will also contribute to discussion about global copyright reform, copyright and education, copyright and cultural heritage and users’ rights.

You can track all our sessions in the Summit’s Sched system. And follow us on Twitter for live updates from the event.

Continue reading

Article 11: still too broken to fix

Parisiens en train d'etudier la question turque
More rights won't save quality journalism
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This week the Bulgarian presidency released their consolidated presidency compromise proposal for a directive on copyright in the digital single market. Instead of taking a proactive approach to fix some of the worst elements of the Commission’s beleaguered proposal, their plan backtracks on many of the most controversial aspects, which only seems to throw the public further under the proverbial bus. As we discussed recently, Article 13 is beyond repair and should be deleted.

The same goes with Article 11— the provision that would create new rights in press publications and allow press publishers to control digital uses of even the smallest snippets of their content. We’ve advocated that the press publishers right should be removed from the proposed directive. Not only is the mechanism ill-suited to address the challenges in supporting quality journalism, it would have the effect of decreasing competition and innovation in the delivery of news, limit access to information, and create widespread negative repercussions for related stakeholders.

Instead, the Bulgarian “compromise” doubles down on the Commission’s original idea and ignoring most of the positive protections offered by some members of Parliament and the earlier Estonian draft. Continue reading

Open Letter challenges Portuguese Government’s position on art. 13

Today, a group of Portuguese organizations, including an important innovation acceleration hub, software companies, free culture and users rights advocates, and the Portuguese association of librarians, archivists and documentalists, sent an open letter to the Portuguese Government asking to the Government to reconsider its position in relation to art. 13 (the proposal to require online platforms to filter all uploads by their users).

As we have noted before, Portugal is, along with France and Spain, one of the countries that supports the Commission’s plan to force online platforms to install upload filters that would prevent any uses of copyright protected not explicitly approved by rightsholders. Portugal has also been pushing forward amendments proposed by the French Government that would significantly change the way online platforms operate. Under the rules proposed by the French, operating open platforms would only be possible with permission from rights holders.

Portugal can still make it right!

The signatories of the letter acknowledge the negative impact that such proposals would have on the fundamental rights of the Portuguese citizens and on the booming Portuguese ecosystem of startups and entrepreneurs, which is as important to the Portuguese economy as the tourism industry. They, thus, ask to the Portuguese Government to depart from its initial position, which privileges the interests of a small class of commercial copyright holders, and to embrace the future of digital innovation instead.

This open letter is yet another reminder that copyright policy cannot be based on the interests of commercial rightsholders alone and a reminder that it is important to challenge the positions of national governments on this important issue (see this helpful overview by MEP Julia Reda for other governments that need to be reminded that we need copyright rules that embrace the future instead of the past).

Educators ask for a better copyright

Educators ask for a better copyright
58 signatures for better copyright
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Today COMMUNIA sent a joint letter to all MEPs working on copyright reform. The letter is an urgent request to improve the education exception in the proposal for a Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market. It is supported by 53 organisations representing schools, libraries, universities and non-formal education, and also 5 individual educators and information specialists.

The future of education determines the future of society. In the letter we explain the changes needed to facilitate the use of copyrighted works in support of education. We listed four main problems with the Commission’s proposal:

#1: A limited exception instead of a mandatory one

The European Commission proposed a mandatory exception, which can be overridden by licenses. As a consequence educational exception will still be different in each Member State. Moreover, educators will need a help from a lawyer to understand what they are allowed to do.

#2 Remuneration should not be mandatory

Currently most Member States have exceptions for educational purposes that are completely or largely unremunerated. Mandatory payments will change the situation of those educators (or their institutions), which will have to start paying for materials they are now using for free.

#3: Excluding experts

The European Commission’s proposal does not include all important providers of education as only formal educational establishments are covered by the exception. We note that the European lifelong-learning model underlines the value of informal and non-formal education conducted in the workplace. All these are are excluded from the education exception.

#4: Closed-door policy

The European Commission’s proposal limits digital uses to secure institutional networks and to the premises of an educational establishment. As a consequence educators will not develop and conduct educational activities in other facilities such as libraries and museums, and they will not be able to use modern means of communication, such as emails and the cloud.

You can still endorse the letter by sending an email to education@communia-associations.org. You can read the full letter below or download the PDF.Continue reading

SCCR/35 Communia questions to Professor Daniel Seng

20171116_122433Licentie

Today, at the 35th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, Professor Daniel Seng presented his Updated Study and Additional Analysis of Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Educational (SCCR/35/5 REV).

Communia is a permanent observer of the Committee, and the following questions were made by me on its behalf:

Good morning, ladies and gentleman.

I’m speaking on behalf of COMMUNIA International Association on the Digital Public Domain.

We would like to thank the Secretariat for arranging for the update and expansion of the study on educational exceptions, and Professor Seng for conducting such study.

We have a few questions for Professor Seng regarding flexibilities, limitations and exceptions to TPM protection in the context of education.

According to your study, about 60% of WIPO Member States do not provide for flexibilities, limitations and exceptions to the protection of technological protection measures. Those findings are very concerning because, according to an impact assessment study conducted by the European Commission in 2016, technological restrictions are the most frequently encountered copyright-related obstacle by users of digital works in education: 31,2% of educators and 36,9% of learners stated that they “are not able to access, download, use or modify a digital work because of technological protection”.

When anti-circumvention laws were drafted at the international level, they were expected to protect TPMs insofar as they restricted acts not authorized by rightsholders. My first question to is if you think that this international legal framework permits users from circumventing technological measures when their aim is to exert their legal rights under the copyright exceptions, and if you believe that it would be appropriate for national laws to allow users to circumvent technological measures in order to exert their rights under educational exceptions?

My second question concerns Member States that do not allow circumvention. In the impact assessment study that I mentioned, mechanisms available to end-users to enforce their rights to use TPM-protected works, without circumventing the TPMs, were only identified in 8 EU countries, which means that 20 EU countries are doing nothing to ensure that their teachers and students can enjoy their rights under national copyright exceptions. Furthermore, even where such mechanisms exist, they can be very burdensome. In Germany, Spain and Sweden it is necessary to go to court to get access to the TPM-protected work. In France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, it is necessary to file a complaint with the relevant authorities or open a mediation procedure.

So, my second question to you is: what are the mechanisms available to teachers and students to enforce their rights to use TPM-protected works in those Member States that do not permit the circumvention of the TPMs?

Finally, I would like to know which country do you think has the most adequate provisions to ensure that beneficiaries of exceptions and limitations for educational purposes can legitimately access and use TPM-protected works?

Paradigm lost? How creativity is weaponized against us

Time Clipping Cupid's Wings
Does creative industry support creativity?
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This post is based on the talk Anna gave during CopyCamp 2017 “Paradigm Lost? How Our Freedoms are Weaponized Against Us and What We Can Do About It”. A video of the talk is available here.

How do you lobby for a great copyright in the post-political world? With difficulty, since it is also a post-factual world: politicians seem to care more about marketing than evidence. Perhaps when the facts are not important we should then look for a better propaganda?

Copyright beyond the bubble

This “better propaganda” should not be populist or based on lies. Digital rights organizations need a better, compelling narrative to convince people to care more. We need to test new approaches because European citizens do not realize that they are bound by the copyright framework every time they access news, knowledge or entertainment on the internet.

We also need to find more compelling ways to talk about rights in the digital environment because these days everybody is a creator and the only difference is that some of us identify as such and many of us don’t. Those of us who don’t, also don’t think that our small acts of creativity such as memes or photos we post online are serious enough to give us this status, but this does not change the fact that we are indeed creators.

From creativity to celebrity

In both cases creativity is crucial for self-expression, and self-expression is key to one’s identity. Today all three: creativity, self-expression and identity become market commodities, increasingly so via social media. So what happens when they enter the market?

Continue reading