Public intervention at “Copyright Reform Unlocking copyright for users”

In Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users COMMUNIA asks several civil society groups, EDRi among them, for their view on the current copyright reform: what are the biggest hopes, the biggest fears and the concrete plans to #FixCopyright.
Listen to what Diego Naranjo, EDRi’s advocacy manager has to say and join the discussion now.

All contents in this video have been released into the Public Domain via a CC0 dedication.

Music (in order of appearance):

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Towards a corporate copyright reform in the EU?

(originally published at

On 24 August, Statewatch leaked the draft Impact Assessment (IA) of the European Commission (EC) on the copyright reform.

Impact Assessments are an essential part in the decision making process. They are where the EC analyses the different options available when considering a policy initiative. Ahead of the official presentation of the final IA in September 2016, the leak hints the range of proposals that could be adopted in the European Union (EU) on copyright matters.

During our copyfails blogpost series we described how badly the EU copyright regime is broken, and how these failures could be fixed if the political will existed. However, after reading the draft IA, our conclusion is that EU policy-makers do not seem to think it is worth the effort to bring copyright to the XXI century. Ignoring the results of the copyright consultation of 2014, and despite not having published the analysis on the results on the public consultation on ancillary copyright and freedom of panorama, the Commission has a plan: Let’s ignore all facts (even those previously identified) and avoid a real reform at all costs.


The draft text shows:

First, the long-awaited copyright reform is likely to become a patchwork of concessions to lobbyists’ demands. If a ban on geo-blocking was something that had any chance to be discussed, the film industry fought that idea, and has prevailed in its demands to maintain the borders in Europe’s “digital single market”. If news publishers wanted an EU wide version of the failed ancillary copyright initiatives to “tax” Google in Spain and Germany, they they will be delighted with the even more extravagant and dangerous position being adopted by the Commission. While the national-level initiatives have been very controversial and have lead to serious consequences, the Commission is going much further. “Ancillary copyright on steroids” seem to the Commission to be the best option, despite publishers themselves admitting that this measure, in their most optimistic possible scenario, would only lead to a ten-percent increase in revenues. Finally, when the music industry giants started complaining about how little money they get from YouTube (despite the billions they do receive), they were given a proposal to fix the so-called “value gap” extending the same system to other online platforms.

Second, once the corporate wish list was diligently followed, the Commission felt creative and thought that extending the automatic identification of works, Google’s Content ID, and making it the new standard would be a good idea. And why not adopt a Google product as a standard? Why not adopt a Google product that is regularly used to delete perfectly legal content? Why not give rights-holder the power to de facto overturn legislators’ decisions on copyright flexibilities? Why not create another barrier for Europe’s online entrepreneurs?

Content ID tools cannot deal with the nuances of copyright law. This will inevitably lead into restrictions on uses of cultural content which are permitted under legally safeguarded copyright flexibilities (“exceptions and limitations”), for example, copyrighted works in teaching environments. Furthermore, the huge costs of creating such a system would impede small and medium enterprises from competing in the market with giants like Google and seriously undermine the possibilities to create new businesses in Europe.

Despite the bad news that this draft IA brings, not everything is lost yet. The European Commission has time and the duty to fix the draft Impact Assessment and prepare the copyright reform that the EU needs. At this stage a solid alliance of diverse stakeholders is needed in order to subvert the corporate copyright reform that could be announced this month.

European Commission Staff Working Document Impact Assessment on the modernisation of copyright rules

European Copyright Leak Exposes Plans to Force the Internet to Subsidize Publishers

Google snippet tax, geoblocking, other copyright reform shunned in EU plan

Commissioner Oettinger is about to turn EU copyright reform into another ACTA

Copyfails: Time to #fixcopyright!


The “Google tax” that is not a Google tax

By Diego Naranjo

The new European Commissioner with responsibility for “digital agenda” issues, Guenther Oettinger caused a stir in the media recently when he raised the possibility of introducing “ancillary copyright” payments, requiring search engine providers to pay for displaying copyrighted materials on their sites, on the EU level. The press was all of a sudden full of talk of a “Google tax”.

There are two problems with the “Google tax” term. In fact, there is one problem in each of the words:

Firstly, the implementation of ancillary copyright in Germany is such that Google does not actually pay. As others have explained (see Julia Reda’s article), the measure has already embarrassing failed consequences for the the publishers that lobbied to get it adopted. The most recent case happened in Germany, where the rights management firm VG Media asked Google a payment because of the news snippets from German newspaper publishers which are offered in its Google News. Google’s unsurprising response (having followed the same approach in Belgium, apparently unbeknownst to the German government) was to delete from Google News all the content related to VG Media associates. The sites in question had been put online in order to be read and not being on Google News would result in significant numbers of visitors being lost. As a result, VG Media decided to grant a “free license” to Google. Google will not have to pay anything to do the same it was doing before. On the other hand, all of the other companies in the market offering paid or free news snippet services, but that do not have Google’s market dominance, will have to pay the… “Google tax”.

Secondly, it is not a “tax”. A tax is, according to Oxford dictionary, “(a) compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers’ income and business profits, or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions”. The “Google tax” does not contribute to the State revenues in any sense, since it is a payment between different private companies.

It remains to be seen whether Commissioner Oettinger is really determined to make the same mistakes at the EU level that have already been made in Germany

Julia Reda: An EU-wide “Google tax” in the making? (28.10.2014)

French publishers want in on German plan to force everyone to pay to link to news (07.09.2014)

Spain’s “Google tax” gets green light with sole support of Popular Party (30.10.2014)

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