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):
(Originally published at the EDRi website as part of our campaign to reform EU copyright)
By Diego Naranjo
We believe that new technologies bring new ways to access culture – they are not a threat for creators. We believe that the legitimacy crisis of the current EU copyright regime is created by the system itself. We believe there’s a need for a modernised copyright regime which takes into consideration the needs of all parts of society, including creators.
Europe needs a more profound reform of the EU copyright regime than the one that the European Commission has announced. To illustrate this, we have identified nine copyfails – crucial failures of the current EU system. You can read the first blogpost of our “copyfails” series, presenting the copyfail #1 here.
The European Commission has set in its agenda reforming copyright as one of the foundations to build the Digital Single Market. However, the Communication published at the end of 2015 did not meet the expectations of the announced “more modern, more European” copyright. On the contrary, the Commission apparently only wants to paper over the serious cracks in the wobbling structure of EU copyright legislation rather than addressing the real problems.
Are you ready to #fixcopyright in the EU? Follow #fixcopyright on Twitter!
“I’ve got two 12-year-old criminals in my kitchen and that can’t be right”
(Jonathan Worth, professional photographer)
The first round of debates surrounding the copyright reform in the European Parliament are reaching their last stages. Pavel Svoboda’s report on Intellectual Property Right (IPR) enforcement was published on 19 May. The report contains a mixture of negative and positive elements which need to be taken into consideration.
Among the negative aspects, we find simplistic statements, for example that IPR infringements discourage growth (Recital D). In reality, the situation is far more nuanced. For example, while the slow adaptation of the music industry to the digital environment has driven a lot of infringements, the market has adapted. Income from concerts is, in fact, growing in the last years. The omnipresent mantras of “follow the money” and “commercial scale” are now happily together in the same paragraph (paragraph 3), still without a clear definition of what these concepts imply. Nobody has sought to define “follow the money” while even the European Commission has said that its 9-year-old definition of “commercial scale” is probably inadequate.
Then, all sprinkled through the Report, there is positive commentary to the generally lamentable work of the Observatory on IPR infringements. Taking into consideration the numerous flaws of much of the output of the Observatory, the gratuitous fawning and, even worse, the calls to use its work to build upon it a new “Intellectual Property” legal framework, seems misplaced and ill-informed to say the least. There is also a mention of the “lack of awareness” of the young generation of the importance of IPR infringements, referring to a study which does not actually say that. It also seems to ignore the results of the copyright consultation where thousands of users called for a Intellectual Property (IP) framework adapted to the 21st century. Finally, the call for “cooperation” of the main Internet stakeholders, which sounds too much like the same old call to privatised law enforcement and the undefined call to “follow the money”.
Among the positive elements, the Report presents calls for balances between fundamental rights and privatised law enforcement (paragraph 10), although it is not clear what this call actually means. There is also the support for attractive licit offers to combat unauthorised use of content (paragraph 37) and for a “comprehensive legal framework to combat IPR infringement adapted to the online environment, with full regard for fundamental rights and freedoms, fair trials, proportionality and data protection” (paragraph 57). Finally, the Report asks for measures “guaranteeing a balanced approach representing the interests of all stakeholders involved, and, in particular, of consumers and their right of access to content” (paragraph 58).
The Plenary of the European Parliament will vote on the Report in the week beginning 7 June.
Julia Reda’s Report on the implementation of the so-called InfoSoc Directive (one of the foundations of EU Copyright law), on the other hand, has been delayed and is now going to be voted in the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) on 16 June. The recently launched copywrongs.eu website contains a good summary of concrete proposals on the harmonisation of exceptions and limitations and for a modernised EU Copyright framework. This new framework should be one where the vast majority of citizens are not considered as offenders of intellectual property rights for doing things that seem (and are) perfectly normal, such as private copying or re-using copyrighted material for parody purposes. The copywrongs site also offers a free user-friendly tool developed by EDRi observer La Quadrature du Net to call Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to let them know your position on the debate.
Given the immense disproportion between rightsholders’ lobbyists and civil society advocates, this tool will help to amplify citizens’ voice. Since there are only a few days before the vote, the time is to get informed via our handbook on copyright and via copywrongs.eu and to take action now for a modernised EU copyright framework!
Everyone is talking about EU copyright reform. However, in the European Parliament, everyone is having the same discussions on enforcement that they were having ten years ago – and talking about stopping any reform.
The Draft Report “Towards a renewed consensus on the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights: An EU Action Plan” (2014/2151(INI)) presented by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Pavel Svoboda reacts supportively to the rather bland, regressive and unimaginative Commission Communication of the same name. Sadly, Mr Svoboda seems to be choosing to support the mistakes that the Commission’s view that the failures of the last ten years should be the model for the next decade.
The Draft Report mixes, sometimes in the same phrase, totally different issues in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), such as counterfeit goods and online content. This leads him to write that “the enforcement of intellectual property rights plays a significant role in ensuring consumers’ health and safety”, although this connection seems somewhat vague. Svoboda also uses terms which we already rejected in the Communication on which this Report is based, and talks about the “commercial scale infringement” that even the Commission publicly admitted that, particularly the online environment, would also require a clearer definition of “commercial scale”, although everyone now appears to have forgotten this.
More worryingly, the Report appears to call for the implementation of certain enforcement measures which do not require public or judicial supervision. The Report refers to “due diligence” procedures, without being clear about whether it is talking about online or offline, where this would have very different meanings. It speaks supportively of “follow the money”, without any particular definition or understanding of what this might be. The whole Report might be understood as wholesale privatisation of regulation of freedom of communication. Or not.
The Report also applauds the work of the Observatory on IP Infringements, presumably because the European Commission asked it to. One would have to search for a long time to find anything of high quality produced by the body since its inception.
There are, however, some positive aspects of this Draft Report. For example, it states that there is the need for more information about what citizens are allowed to do with protected content. EDRi has been calling for a modernised and harmonised system for copyright, since the system which is still in force is not in line with the uneeds of users in the 21st century. Svoboda also expresses his concerns on the “divergent interpretations of certain provisions of the directive result in differences in its application in the Member States”. Indeed the fact that national courts have been implementing the IPR Enforcement Directive in order to clarify what the legislator could not clarify, which is why reform is needed. The situation is that critical that, if the EU legislator just took the opportunity to make sense of the copyright regime, it would be already a victory.
The Opinions proposed by the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) and Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) do not give any more hope. We can find in both of them the same references to the same vague and misleading terms (“commercial scale infringement”, “follow the money approach”, etc) and reference to the same statistics that EDRi and the Copyright for Creativity (C4C) coalition have already definitively debunked to “describe” the impact of infringements. The amendments tabled by MEPs in the CULT committee are beyond parody. One, for example, removes demands for statistics to be reliable, precised and unbiased!