Explaining the importance of being copyright aware at Sziget

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Costumes Parisiens, fevrier
Saving the internet
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This summer, COMMUNIA joined efforts with the Copyfighters to raise awareness on the ongoing Copyright Reform in EU at the music festival SZIGET. Sziget Festival is one of the most important, well attended and well known music and cultural festivals in Europe, gathering visitors from all corners of the world each August. In the heart of Hungary, the Obudai-sziget island, people across the world visit the festival for a few days to enjoy the music and to be inspired. Sziget has a Civil Island where current social issues can be discussed. On this island, in tent 50, we offered information about the current copyright reform and how it will affect citizens.

On three consecutive days, between 8th and 11th of August, surrounded by the SZIGET beats and its unique vibes (of freedom), we have discussed and raised awareness on the current importance of copyright issues in Europe and the potential affects that draft copyright regulations would have on digital freedoms.

Festival goers and visitors of SZIGET’s Tent 50 were asked what values they find important and how these values relate to the importance of copyright. They suggested words such as Europe, sharing, learning, knowledge and art as important values or concepts that are (or should be) equally or more important than copyright.

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Having an upcoming vote on the proposed Copyright Directive scheduled on September 12th, the current copyright reform is in the eye of the legislative storm in Europe. Copyright laws in their essence, are an instrument aimed in the creative sector, with the purpose to keep the balance – between the interests of creators and the public.

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New Joint Letter: Asking for a better copyright for education

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Yesterday, together with our co-signatories Education International and ETUCE, we shared a letter highlighting concerns about the proposed exception for education with the members of the European Parliament.

You can read the full letter here.

We shared suggestions on three main issues that we want to change in the Commission-text on the education exception, which will be the basis of the vote on 12 September:

#1: Support a broad definition of educational establishments

Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposal does not include all organisations where educational activities take place, 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 including continuous professional development conducted in the workplace. This takes place in collaboration with, among others, cultural heritage institutions and NGOs. All these are excluded from the education exception.

We therefore ask members of the European Parliament to support amendments that clarify that all organisations where educational activities, both formal and non-formal, take place are covered by the education exception.

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CopyCamp 2018 open for proposals

1200px-Bellotto_View_of_Warsaw_from_Praga
Join us in Warsaw for discussion on copyright
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The 2018 version of CopyCamp will take place on October 5th and 6th in Warsaw. For the past 6 years, CopyCamp has been a place for interesting, insightful and engaging discussions about copyright in the EU. Every year an international, interdisciplinary group of artists, experts, scientists, and activists meets to exchange experience, and show that this law affects everyone.

If you would like to join COMMUNIA at CopyCamp please know that the call for speakers is open until until July 31st. You can find more information about that here.

5 Tracks at CopyCamp 2018

Every year CopyCamp has a different focus, for this edition five different thematic tracks have been developed.

Author social security
How to acknowledge and remunerate authors? How to help them to negotiate contracts and secure their career and financial stability in the long run, also during retirement? What are the perspectives of alternative compensation schemes?

The history of copyright
It is the hundredth anniversary of the modern Polish copyright and industrial property law. The evolution of the law has been accompanied by the evolution of cultural activities regulated by these laws. Are there any lessons that can be drawn? What has changed in culture that the law should address better?

EU copyright reform
Is the new directive #ACTA2? We need to have a meaningful discussion on how to fix copyright that transcends such simplifications. CopyCamp has been the place for such a discussion since 2012. This year you are more than invited to share your proposal for the copyright for the future.

Blockchain perspectives
How can technology be used to benefit authors and their audiences? Is blockchain the answer? Will it live up to the expectations? Most importantly – what exactly does blockchain fix in copyright, and whom it will empower?

Reuse of heritage archives
Heritage is an important source for appropriation artists, who use it to retell old stories and build their own stories by reusing existing culture. There are not just legal, but also ethical questions in this area. We invite the GLAM sector to share their experiences from digitization and reuse, and we also invite authors and researchers to openly talk about their needs when it comes to building upon heritage.

About the conference

CopyCamp 2018 is organised in partnership with the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland, Society of Authors ZAiKS, Polish National Film Archive–Audiovisual Institute, and Google Poland. It is supported by EDRi, COMMUNIA, Open Knowledge International, and Open Forum Europe.

The event is open for everyone and entrance is free.

The European Commission’s new proposal for re-use of public sector information: improving but some fixes still required

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PSI Directive proposal: some fixes still required
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Today, Communia sent feedback to the European Commission on its proposal to amend the Directive on the re-use of public sector information. This is the second time the Commission has proposed to update the legal framework for access to and re-use of Public Sector Information (PSI) since the Directive was adopted in 2003. The most important changes from the previous amendment (2013) was the introduction of a genuine right to re-use by making  all content that can be accessed under national access to documents laws reusable, and expanding the scope of the Directive to cover libraries, museums, and archives.

This time, the European Commission has proposed to make more research data available, extends the scope to public undertakings (including transportation data), and further limits the scenarios in which public entities may charge for data. This proposal was preceded by public consultations (see COMMUNIA’s response).

We support the proposal to amend Directive, but at the same time we want to draw attention to some issues where the proposal should be improved. Below are our recommendations.Continue reading

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.

European Parliament to vote on copyright reform mandate this week – who’s voice will matter?

European Parliament (before the internet)
Can the EU Parliament #saveyourinternet?
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As the members of the European Parliament make their way to Strasbourg for the final plenary before the summer break, here is a reminder of what is at stake when they will vote on the JURI report on the proposed copyright directive this Thursday. Formally they will be voting to approve (or reject) the negotiation mandate the JURI members had given themselves on the 20th of June which, allows MEP Voss to start negotiating the final text of the directive with the Member States and the European Commission. As we wrote earlier the negotiation mandate is highly problematic as it embraces both the publishers right (“link tax”) and a requirement for open platforms to filter all user uploads (“censorship filters”). Both of these articles, which are pushed for by large rightsholders to give them more control over the content that they distribute, undermine important principles of the Internet and will cause significant damage to the much wider online environment.

In other words, the question that MEPs will have to decide this week, is if we accept the fact that fundamental principles of the Internet get thrown overboard at the request of particular industries who stand to benefit from such a move, even if it is clear that everybody else will be worse off as a result. Over the past weeks it has become clear that people are not happy with this prospect. MEPs have been overwhelmed with angry mails from Internet users, online creators have warned about the end of certain forms of creativity, people have taken to the streets in more than 30 places across Europe and more than 145 civil society organisations once again confirmed their opposition to the proposed measures.

In the light of these massive protests, the music industry which is the driving force behind the Article 13 upload filters is in damage control mode trying to downplay the effects of the measures it is calling for. Their fairly ridiculous attempt to position article 13 as “pro memes and mashups” was quickly debunked on social media and by European copyright scholars. The fact that scholarly opinion on the proposed changes, which largely overlaps with the perception by users, has been completely ignored by the members of the JURI committee is one of the driving forces behind the attempt to stop the JURI negotiation mandate this week.

So who is in favour of the measures approved by JURI and who is against them? Who should European lawmakers listen to when it comes to deciding on changes to the copyright regime that will have far-reaching effects for users, creators and businesses alike?

In favor of the JURI mandate: The position adopted by the Legal Affairs committee is supported by pretty much any organisation representing rightsholders and professional creators that is active in Brussels.

Against the JURI mandate: On the other side of the Debate we find the Civil Liberties and Consumer Protection committee of the European Parliament (both of which had adopted a more reasonable version of Article 13), more than 50 civil liberties organisations, organisations representing technology startups and software developers who all stand to lose from the proposed measures. Equally important are the warning voices coming from academics at Europe’s leading IP research centers, a group of the original architects of the Internet, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on the freedom of expression. Other critical voices come from creators, the Wikipedia community and hundreds of thousands of Internet users who have been contacting their MEPs via saveyourinternet.eu (and other platforms).

Most of these voices have been ignored by the debate in the JURI committee which has shown a particular disregard for independent expertise throughout the process. It is now up to all members of the European Parliament to decide if the Parliament should enter into negotiations with the Member States and the Commission based on the narrow view taken by the members of the JURI committee or on a view that takes these voices into account.

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.

Legal affairs committee sells out user rights to big content & big tech.

Nederlaag van de titanen
but you can still #SaveYourInternet
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This morning the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament voted on the report on the proposed Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. The results are in and they are not pretty: MEPs have adopted Article 13 which would force open platforms operating in Europe to install upload filters. They have also adopted the controversial press publishers right (art 11). As a bonus to rightsholders they granted more rights to “sports event organisers” and adopted a provision intended to force image search engines to pay for displaying thumbnail images as search results.

This amounts to a massive power grab by rightsholders who will enjoy much more control over how we use the Internet to communicate, share, create and inform ourselves. It is a big step away from an open Internet towards an Internet that functions as a distribution channel for mainstream culture. It is a huge loss for European cultural diversity and the freedom of expression online.

It is telling that the MEPs in the JURI committee have also voted against all attempts to give users more rights. Proposals to introduce EU wide freedom of panorama and to allow the use of protected works in User Generated Content (both of which would merely bring the law in line with reality) were voted down. The MEPs adopted a number of small improvements for users in the fields of education, access to cultural heritage and with regards to Text and Data Mining but most of these come with significant drawbacks.

The education exception contains a license priority clause that allows rightsholders to turn off the exception and dictate problematic licensing terms to educational users, which creates a dangerous precedent for users’ rights and goes against the CJEU ruling on this issue.

The Text and Data Mining (TDM) exception is limited to scientific research purposes only. The expansion that would open TDM to everyone for every purpose (which is crucial for the development of technologies such as artificial intelligence in the EU) is merely optional and will not apply across the EU as a whole.

Taken as a whole, the JURI committee’s vote shows an utter disregard for the rights of citizens in the digital environment. It is telling that both the Civil Liberties and the Consumer Protection committees have prepared much more balanced reports that have been completely ignored by the members of the Legal Affairs committee. This shows that lawmakers still treat the rights and interests of citizens and creators as spare change in the the fight between big content and big tech.

Today’s round has clearly gone to ‘big content’ in spite of warnings from pretty much anyone other than the rightsholders that this outcome will have disastrous consequences for the open Internet and our freedom of speech. Citizens’ freedom of expression should not be the function of an arrangement between rightsholders and big technology companies. It is a right that needs to be defended on its own merits and it is extremely worrisome that EU lawmakers have effectively decided to give big technology companies – that are based outside of the EU –  the responsibility to decide how European citizens can express themselves online.

We will continue to fight for the rights of users and creators and to oppose the censorship machine. The first step will be to convince enough MEPs that a decision to sell out citizens rights to big content and big tech merits a decision by the whole European Parliament:

Three things the European Parliament needs to do to #fixcopyright tomorrow

European Parliament (before the internet)
Tell your MEP to #fixcopyright tomorrow!
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Tomorrow the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) will finally vote on the proposed Copyright in the Digital Single Market proposal. The outcome of this vote will define the European Parliament’s negotiation position as it enters into trilogue negotiations with the European Commission and the Council. Although more than a thousand amendments have been proposed, it is clear that the European Parliament has missed the chance to demand a forward-looking copyright reform that empowers Internet users and creators and improves access to culture and information. With an eye on tomorrow’s votes, these are the three immediate challenges facing the members of the JURI committee:

#1 Save the Internet

For more than a year the discussion in the European Parliament has narrowed down on a number of key topics. The most attention has gone to those areas where the ideas introduced by the European Commission have the potential to break the open Internet and limit freedom of expression and  the free access to information. Both Articles 11 and 13 remain hotly contested to this very moment and it is important that you continue to tell the members of the JURI committee to Save Your Internet by voting against the compromise proposals proposed by the Rapporteur, Axel Voss, and support the alternative compromises proposed by the Greens instead.

#2 Expand user rights and protect the Public Domain

On a more positive note there are a number of issues where the JURI MEPs can make a positive difference. The Commission’s proposal was a huge disappointment with regard to empowering users and protecting the Public Domain but members of Parliament have worked hard to put proposals up for vote that would correct this. During tomorrow’s vote the JURI MEPs should vote for the alternative compromise amendments that would introduce Europe-wide exceptions allowing anyone to take and share pictures of artworks located in public spaces (the so-called freedom of panorama) and to use pre-existing works in remixes and other forms of “user generated content”. In addition, MEPs should vote in favor of the compromise amendments on articles 7-9 that strengthen the proposed mechanism that would allow cultural heritage institutions to make available out of commerce works. Lastly, the compromise amendment for article 5 contains a recognition of the principle that reproductions of works in the public domain should stay in the public domain.

#3 Fix the most glaring flaws of the Commission proposal

Finally, there are a number of issues where the Commission’s proposal was severely lacking and where the members of Parliament have not managed to put forward a response that fixes these flaws. As proposed by the European Commission, both the exception for Text and data Mining and the exception for education were at best mixed blessings and, unfortunately, the Parliament has not found a way to fully address their shortcomings.

The proposed optional exception for TDM that applies only if the right has not been reserved does not constitute more than a band-aid on the gaping wound caused by the Commission’s proposal for an limited exception (that, in effect, prevents anyone except researchers from engaging in Text and data mining). Given that there are no more substantial solutions on the table we still encourage MEPs to vote for the compromise amendments on articles 3 and 3a even though we are convinced that the only sensible option is to embrace “the right to read is the right to mine” approach.  

With regards to the education exception, the European Parliament’s compromise amendment fails to address the core shortcoming of the Commission’s proposal. The new mandatory exception should improve the very fragmented existing legal framework in the EU and benefit learners and educators alike. Unfortunately, the compromise amendment up for vote tomorrow leaves intact the licensing override that will negate the purpose of having a mandatory exception. We will continue to advocate for limiting reliance on licensing as a method to ensure access to educational materials. It has become clear from our own research that licenses do not benefit education. They impose burdensome obligations on schools and include unfair or even abusive terms.

Time is running out to tell the MEPs in JURI to act. Tell them to back stronger exceptions, safeguard the public domain and save the Internet via saveyourinternet.eu or changecopyright.org now!