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

European Parliament (before the internet)
Users’ voices finally heard
Licentie

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.

Dear MEP, will you support an open, broad and flexible education exception?

Leanne_TTLicentie

The day after tomorrow, the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee will vote on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The educational exception in the Directive is not what we hoped when the copyright reform process started. The European Commission promised – in its DSM strategy – to reduce differences between copyright regimes and to provide greater legal certainty for cross-border use through harmonised exceptions. The Copyright in the DSM Directive furthermore proposed to reduce transaction costs for users, including educators and educational establishments.

These promises have not been met.

This is why we sent a policy letter to all members of the JURI committee asking for a better copyright for education last week. We hope this will help the committee members remember what is at stake for education in this vote, and that they will support an open, broad and flexible exception.

In the current proposal article 4 allows for an override of the exception with licensing mechanisms – which benefits rightsholders, but increases transaction costs, cause legal uncertainty for cross-border use and leads to a lack of harmonisation of copyright law, as it applies to education.

Our recent study of 10 licensing schemes for educational uses (in France, the United Kingdom and Finland) shows that (i) licences restrict the scope of protection of the educational exceptions, (ii) licenses grant questionable rights to rightsholders, and (iii) licenses impose burdensome obligations on schools.

We are concerned that the language of the new education exception will not be able to achieve its purpose of allowing cross-border use because it only allows the use within an educational establishment and within an electronic environment. This will not facilitate cross-border use across institutions and across countries.

In the letter we ask MEPs  to support a mandatory exception that is the same in each country, for non-commercial education that facilitates cross-border sharing, without any licenses or compulsory remuneration attached by force of law.

106 million European students, 8.3 million European teachers, and 40% of adults who continue to learn should be supported in their learning efforts. Educational policy should not be endangered to secure narrow interests of educational publishers and other rightsholders.
The full text of the letter is available here.