It is Fair Use week, and we have a special guest author sharing about a copyright debate that is considering implementing Fair Use: Delia Browne is National Copyright Director of the Australian National Copyright Unit (Schools and TAFEs). Australia is in the process of re-evaluating its copyright law, including the rules regarding education. The Australian reform offers interesting parallels with the actions in the European Union. We can only wish that a debate on flexible copyright norm was taking place also in Europe.
Like almost all nations, education is crucial to the future economic and social well-being of Australia. These are exciting times for education, but the benefits of the digital era will not be fully realised in our classrooms unless greater flexibility is introduced into our copyright laws. The rules around copyright were designed in the age of the photocopier; these are not working in the age of the iPad and the 3D printer, and are holding back innovation in schools.
The current system isn’t working
Copyright reform is a significant issue for Australian schools, as Australia’s outdated copyright laws currently stand in the way of teachers using the most modern teaching methods in the interests of Australian students. For example: Continue reading
Last month the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from US authors who attempted to overturn a prior decision that Google’s scanning of millions in copyright books amounted to “fair use”. This refusal marks the end of a decade long legal fight about the Google books project. This means that in the US Google is free to scan and index in copyright protected books, in order to allow internet users to search the contents of the books.
The fact that Google is allowed to do this has received much criticism, not only from authors in the US but also from rights holders and media in Europe. Much of this criticism has been directed to the fact that the ruling allows a commercial entity to provide access to the full corpus of literature published in the US, but misses a much more important point.
As Ellen Euler, the Deputy Managing Director for Finance, Law, Communication of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek points out in her guest contribution below, this means that internet users in the US have access to a much broader body of knowledge and culture than the internet users in the EU. According to Euler we should not see Google Books as a threat to culture but rather as a reminder that Europe urgently needs to create a legal framework that enables access to the collections of our libraries, archives and museums, preferably by allowing them to make their collections available via their own online platforms.
Looking beyond Google for online access to EU culture and knowledge
by Ellen Euler
In the the digital and networked 21st century, cultural heritage institutions have an extended mandate: they must not only provide local access to culture and knowledge, but are also expected to make their collections available via the internet. As we spend an increasing amount of our time online, expect to be able to view and enjoy the the rich collections of our libraries, museums, and archives. And it’s important to provide online access to enable the discovery and innovative reuse of our shared cultural commons. As Tim Berners-Lee, one of the inventors of the web, sums up: “What’s not on the Net, is not in the world”.
When we digitize content from cultural heritage institutions, we begin the process of opening those materials to the world. As Armand Marie Leroi, a humanist and professor of evolutionary biology once said, “digitisation transforms them from caterpillars into butterflies”. Digitized texts allow us to pose entirely new questions and acquire new knowledge based on full-text searches and via other analytical tools and methods. This type of information mining is no longer restricted only to texts. Image recognition tools, combined with standardised metadata and geographical data, make it possible to interrogate other types of content too. We can use new quantitative research methods to test hypotheses and create linkages between bodies of knowledge. We can create virtual research environments to enable the contextualisation of collections within a broader framework.Continue reading
It’s Fair Use Week, and organizations and individuals are publishing blog posts, hosting workshops, and sharing educational media about the implementation and importance of this essential limitation to the rights endowed by copyright. Fair use is a flexible legal tool that permits some uses of copyrighted material without permission from the original rightsholder, such as for use in news reporting, criticism, teaching, and other reasons. A fair use is not an infringement of copyright.
The doctrine of fair use sits under the larger umbrella of limitations and exceptions to copyright. These limitations are a necessary check on the exclusive rights granted to copyright holders. Even though fair use has only been adopted by a small number of countries, in Europe there are several exceptions that are central to supporting permission-free uses of copyrighted content for various public interest goals. Both fair use and flexible copyright exceptions serve the same basic purpose, but under different legal landscapes.
We’ve highlighted several commonsense limitations to copyright that should be adopted and standardised throughout the EU. These include exceptions for educational use, for cultural heritage institutions to be able to share out-of-commerce works online, for freedom of panorama, and for audiovisual quotation. It’s important that these exceptions are made mandatory and are fully harmonised across all EU member states.
We’re especially interested in how limitations and exceptions to copyright can support modern education practices. Last month we published a policy paper outlining the requirements for a progressive EU-wide exception to copyright for educational purposes. This exception should 1) address local and cross-border education needs; 2) be mandatory; 3) be neutral with regard to media type, format, and technology; 4) be flexible; and 5) cover all necessary uses provided they are in accordance with fair practice.
As we observe Fair Use Week 2016, we’re happy to see that users around the world are taking advantage of limitations and exceptions—an important safety valve to the rules of default copyright. We’re hopeful that in the coming months the Commission will support the creation of exceptions that balance the interests of rightsholders with the needs of the public who wish to use copyrighted works in creative and educational ways.
With the EU consultation on a review of the European Copyright rules still ongoing (the new extended deadline is the 5th of March) it is nice to see that some other countries are apparently making progress with their national copyright reform agendas. One of the most interesting bits of news is coming out of Australia.
The Australian Law Reform Commission has just published its report on Copyright and the Digital Economy. At the centerpiece of this report we find the recommendation to replace the existing system of purpose-based exceptions with a flexible fair use style exception. The proposal, on which the 1709 Blog has a very useful summary, combines a fair use clause with a number of illustrative purposes that aims at providing legal certainty for specific types of uses:
Under the proposed framework, determining whether a use is ‘fair’ requires the balancing of the same four factors as those that underpin the US fair use doctrine, ie:
- the purpose and character of the use;
- the nature of the copyright material;
- the amount and substantiality of the part used; and
- the effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyright material.
A more extensive (non-exhaustive) list of illustrative purposes than appears in the US statute is also recommended for inclusion. It covers:
- research or study;
- criticism or review;
- parody or satire;
- reporting news;
- professional advice;
- non-commercial private use;
- incidental or technical use;
- library or archive use;
- education; and
- access for people with disability.
In the context of the ongoing EU consultation it is especially interesting to see a set of recommendations that try to combine the advantages of a fair use approach (flexibility and adaptability to new technological developments) with the advantages of an approach that relies on exceptions for certain clearly defined types of use (legal certainty for users that fall into these categories).
A number of the already published responses to the EU copyright consultation are suggesting a similar approach for Europe. These include the response by Copyright4Creativity (to which Communia has contributed) but also the responses by Europeana and by a number of Dutch cultural heritage institutions.
While we are waiting for the next steps of the European copyright reform process, the report by the the Australian Law Reform Commission, which draws on the outcomes of a similar public consultation, shows that a fair use approach certainly has its merits.
In November Bernt Hugenholtz (IViR) and Martin Senftleben (VU Amsterdam) published a study that explores existing flexibilities within the European copyright regime that could be used to introduce the concept of fair use in Europe. This study follows on the heels of the Hargreaves Review, which examined the possibility of introducing a fair use exception in the UK.
In his report Hargreaves concluded that while it is highly desirable to introduce more open-ended flexibilities into UK copyright law, ‘significant difficulties would arise in any attempt to transpose US style Fair Use into European law.’ (Hargreaves, p.47). Instead of recommending the introduction of a Fair Use exception, Hargreaves looks at the benefits that a Fair Use exception provides and concludes that it is time to explore…
‘… with our EU partners a new mechanism in copyright law to create a built-in adaptability to future technologies which, by definition, cannot be foreseen in precise detail by today’s policy makers. This latter change will need to be made at EU level, as it does not fall within the current exceptions permitted under EU law. […] We therefore recommend below that the Government should press at EU level for the introduction of an exception allowing uses of a work enabled by technology which do not directly trade on the underlying creative and expressive purpose of the work (this has been referred to as “non-consumptive” use). (Hargreaves, p.47)
While Hugenholtz and Senftleben seem to embrace these conclusions, their study does not deal with introducing additional flexibilities into the European copyright system. Instead they have set out to explore existing room for more flexibility within the system. This system consists of the EU’s 2001 Information Society Directive (a.k.a ‘Copyright Directive), it’s 27 implementations into the national laws of the EU member states, and the WIPO internet treaties.
In their paper Hugenholtz and Senftleben argue that the current European copyright system provides ample room to create more flexible exceptions. According to them, member states seeking to provide more opportunities to users of copyright protected works are well advised to exploit these inherent flexibilities. Where the introduction of new exceptions at the EU level, as advocated by Hargreaves, would only come into effect after a multi-year legislative undertaking with an all but guaranteed outcome, working with existing flexibilities provides those member states who wish to introduce changes a much quicker route to achieve this objective.Continue reading