Copyright Reform – C4C Supports the Balanced Approach Taken by MEP Reda and Explains Why

C4C has already welcomed MEP Reda’s draft Report  as a clear step in the right direction to fix copyright. Below, you can find out what our detailed views are of this document, and which situations some of the provisions are aimed to address in a useful manner.

Creator remuneration and contract position: re-balancing of positions

Article 3

(…) recognises (…) the need for appropriate remuneration for all categories of rightholders; calls for improvements to the contractual position of authors and performers in relation to other rightholders and intermediaries;

Why do we like it?

Improves the negotiation position of authors and creators and ensures they are rewarded.

What does it refer to?

Copyright is currently more about protecting right holders than protecting creators (i.e. a real ‘droit d’auteur’), and it should not be claimed that protecting the acquis of these right holders equates to protecting creators and creativity. For example:

  • Research results published in A-listed journals help secure future funding. This puts researchers in a bad negotiation position, wherein they have to sign away their rights to scientific publishers. The outcome: Universities’ spending (of public funds) on journal subscriptions keeps rising year after year to ensure access to their own staff’s research.
  • French research shows “labels keep 73% of payouts from Spotify/Deezer etc.”, while “writers/publishers [get] a 16% share, and then artists – mostly paid by their labels – who get 11%”.
  • “Buy-out contracts that contain unfair terms and conditions asking journalists to transfer all exclusive rights to employers is one of the biggest challenges in many EU-countries today. Authors are increasingly forced to accept such conditions because of asymmetrical power relations.” – Mogens Blicher Bjerregård’s, President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), statement at the 12 February meeting of the European Parliament’s Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright Reform.

Public Domain: keeping creators in charge of their rights

Article 6

(…) calls on the Commission to recognise the freedom of rightholders to voluntarily relinquish their rights and dedicate their works to the public domain;

Why do we like it?

Some Member States (e.g. Spain) have limited creators autonomy to choose to have their works in the public domain, to be freely shared and reused if  appropriate credit is given.

What does it refer to?

Spain recently introduced an ‘unwaivable’ right to remuneration (i.e. licence fee) from those who want to display excerpts. As a result Spanish aggregators (like “Meneame”) consider to move to another territory or to go out of business entirely (like “Infoaliment“).

Protection term: stopping the inflation of duration

Article 7

Calls on the Commission to harmonise the term of protection of copyright to a duration that does not exceed the current international standards set out in the Bern Convention;

Why do we like it?

Limits the protection term to the internationally agreed minimum duration (i.e 50 years) and helps to ensure that works enter the public domain faster.

What does it refer to?

Life plus 70 years protection terms go beyond the internationally agreed minimum set in the Bern Convention and is generally recognized to be out of line with the normal commercial lifespan of the vast majority of copyrighted works. This extended protection leads to a variety of absurd situations, such as:

  • Cut-off dates, between the 1860’s and the 1940’s, beyond which libraries will not publish digitised newspapers on the web for the general public, leaving a huge gap in 20th century content.
  • French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novel ‘The Little Prince’ has been in the public domain for the last 20 years in Canada – having a 50 year copyright term. In Europe it only entered the public domain on 1 January 2015, except for France where this will only happen somewhere between 1 May 2033 and 1 January 2045 – depending on the interpretation of the rules.

Digital vs. analogue: ensuring rules are not neutralised through contractual or technical limitations

Articles 9, 23 & 24

9. Notes that exceptions and limitations should be enjoyed in the digital environment without any unequal treatment compared to those granted in the analogue world;

23. Stresses that the effective exercise of exceptions or limitations (…) should not be hindered by technological measures;

24. (…) when the circumvention of technological measures is allowed, technological means to achieve such authorised circumvention must be available;

Why do we like it?

Gives consumers the possibility to enjoy their digital goods (e.g. e-books, music downloads, movies) in the same ways as their analogue equivalents (e.g. books, CDs, etc.) without the hurdles faced nowadays due to contractual limitations or ‘digital locks’ (i.e. technological measures).

What does it refer to?

Digital goods such as e-Books have ‘digital locks’ (i.e. technological measures) that can limit the number of times they can be read. These ‘digital locks’ can also prevent you from copying songs you’ve bought online onto a CD, to listen to it in the car or just as a backup in case of a computer crash. Don’t even think about making a personal copy of the DVD from your favourite movie, just in case the original disc gets scratched. Or putting it on a USB stick to play on your SMART TV if your DVD no longer works. Even world leaders have trouble with them. In March 2009 US President Barack Obama offered Gordon Brown, then UK Prime Minister, a set of 25 classic American movies, unfortunately the DVDs could only be played on a DVD player for the North American region.From a purely legal point of view, a copyright review can only be considered effective, if the rights granted to users and the exceptions put in place to copyright are not bypassed or neutralised through contractual or technical measures .

Legal certainty in the Digital Single Market: harmonising the exceptions and limitations

Articles 10, 11 & 17

10. (…) differences among Member States in the implementation of exceptions (…) creates legal uncertainty (…);

11. Calls on the Commission to make mandatory all exceptions and limitations (…) to allow equal access to cultural diversity across borders within the internal market and to improve legal security;

17. (…) the exception for caricature, parody and pastiche should apply regardless of the purpose of the parodic use;

Why do we like it?

Increased harmonization enables both users and businesses to (better) understand their rights and obligations across the EU, and all EU citizens should have the same rights in interacting with culture and knowledge.

What does it refer to?

It is telling that a 2011 Consumer Focus report showed that 73% of UK users are never quite sure what is legal and what is illegal under copyright law. Parody, for example, is a cornerstone of culture in many countries. In Belgium its normally legal to share a parody online, however enjoying it elsewhere in Europe could be illegal as only a couple of Member States transposed the parody exception. Result: the current patchwork of rules is extremely confusing for users and businesses; and prevents cross-border exchanges between researchers, educators, and general users, and prohibits businesses from availing of economies of scope and scale.

An open norm: adding a flexible norm to allow courts to cope with the future evolutions

Article 13

Calls for the adoption of an open norm introducing flexibility in the interpretation of exceptions and limitations (…);

Why do we like it?

A flexible mechanism allows the copyright framework to cope with future evolutions, without the need for regular updates.

What does it refer to?

Policy makers can do a terrific job to make the copyright framework fit for purpose for today’s reality, but predicting the future is hard for everyone. The previous framework was adopted in 2001, and there’s just no way legislators could have anticipated what would happen in the next decade. To overcome this hurdle, they can add an open norm allowing the exceptions to be interpreted to ‘similar uses’, making their efforts as future proof as possible. It should be noted that other countries have also introduced such flexible norms in the recent past, including Israel, South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore.

Quotations: going beyond text to allow remixes & mash-ups

Article 14

(…) in particular, the exception for quotation should expressly include audio-visual quotations in its scope;

Why do we like it?

Brings the quotation exception in line with how citizens interact with their culture in the 21st century. Avoids that a mash-up shared for example by a school or a teenager on a social media platform is considered as constituting a copyright infringement.

What does it refer to?

Nowadays Internet users no longer limit themselves to words to express their creativity online, but create collages (i.e. mash-ups and remixes) with video and audio fragments that they share with friends. These mash-up are rendered even more easy to make thanks to specific apps.

Linking & Browsing: ensuring the core of the Internet and our daily activities are not threatened

Article 15

Stresses that the ability to freely link from one resource to another is one of the fundamental building blocks of the Internet (…)

Why do we like it?

The foundations of the Internet are linking and browsing, these actions allow citizens to communicate and access information and knowledge on the one hand and support companies to do business on the other.

What does it refer to?

In the recent years the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) had to decide if day-to-day acts such as linking (cf. the Svensson case) and browsing (cf. the Meltwater case) are legal under European copyright law. In the case of browsing it took the CJEU five (5!) years to that browsing the web is legal. Such basic acts that are at the core of several of our daily activities, personal and business wise, should not be put to a test.

Freedom of panorama: allowing users to freely post pictures of Europe’s monuments and buildings

Article 16

Calls on the EU legislator to ensure that the use of photographs, video footage or other images of works which are permanently located in public places are permitted;

Why do we like it?

Ensuring that pictures of public buildings, such as the European Parliament in Brussels, can be freely used by everyone – ranging from citizens to Wikipedia.

What does it refer to?

Putting a picture online, on Wikipedia, your Facebook page, or elsewhere, of the Atomium or the European Parliament buildings in Brussels, or the Eiffel Tower by night in Paris can be considered a copyright infringement. Because unlike other Member States, France, Belgium, Italy and Greece, for example, have not provided an exception for freedom of panorama. As a result the Wikipedia page of the Atomium does not show an actual picture of the monument.

Text & data mining: ensuring Europe’s research sector remains competitive

Article 18

Stresses the need to enable automated analytical techniques for text and data (e.g. ‘text and data mining’) for all purposes, provided that the permission to read the work has been acquired;

Why do we like it?

Allowing text and data mining (TDM) will ensure a level playing field for European researchers (amongst Member States as well as in a global context) and maximise the return on investment of public money.

What does it refer to?

Researchers are keen to use computers to read (i.e. mine) the scientific documents their institution has access to. Using algorithms, instead of reading through documents themselves, they identify patterns in text and data in a much more efficient manners than before, hence saving time, increasing innovation and maximising the return on public (and private) money invested in research. These techniques are already extensively used by their counterparts in the US and Asia, and now the UK recently introduced an exception to support their research community. This creates a competitive disadvantage for other European researchers, as TDM activities are being moved to locations where legal certainty is ensured.

Research & education: going beyond ‘formal’ definitions

Article 19

Calls for a broad exception for research and education purposes, which should not only cover educational establishments, but any kind of educational and research activities, including non-formal education;

Why do we like it?

Allows everyone across Europe to enjoy new types of (informal) learning, be it in the context of lifelong learning or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

What does it refer to?

With calls for lifelong learning and the promotion of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), education is taking on new forms no longer bound to formal educational establishments and physical classrooms. MOOCs can attract people from all across Europe. So, it’s important to ensure that the use of educational material is guaranteed in the same manner in Europe for everyone to be able to benefit.

eLending: allowing libraries to enter the 21st century

Article 20

Calls for the adoption of a mandatory exception allowing libraries to lend books to the public in digital formats, irrespective of the place of access;

Why do we like it?

It enables libraries to enter the 21st century, and to continue their public mission of providing access to content to the public.

What does it refer to?

As e-books and electronic reading platforms become more common libraries need to be enabled to carry out the activities they are tasked with on these platforms as well. Restricting libraries to lending out physical books means risking that they will become less and less relevant in the future. Libraries are an important contributor to democratic access to knowledge and culture and this function needs to be preserved in the future.

Ancillary copyright: stopping the extension and use of intellectual property rights to cover situations that are not related to copyright

Article 21

Calls on the EU legislator to preclude Member States from introducing statutory licenses for the compensation of rightholders for the harm caused by acts made permissible by an exception;

Why do we like it?

The scope of copyright should not be extended further. Extensions, such as the so-called ‘ancillary copyright’ are causing legal uncertainty for digital innovators and publishers alike, and the European institutions should stop them.

What does it refer to?

Some Member States (e.g. Germany, Spain) create even more confusion and complexity in the copyright area, by granting news publishers a new type of copyright the so-called ‘ancillary copyright’. This creation of new rights at national level by Member States, extending the scope of copyright even further whilst creating even more fragmentation.

Private copying levies: more transparency required

Article 22

Calls (…) for harmonised transparency measures as regards the private copying levies put in place in some Member States;

Why do we like it?

Citizens, as well as authors and creators, need to be informed about (1) how much is being levied, (2) for what purpose the levy is collected, and (3) how the collected levy is being put to use.

What does it refer to?

Private copying levies are being collected on a range of devices (e.g. USB sticks, printers, hard drives, smartphones, etc.) with the goal of being redistributed to authors and creators for private copies made of their works on these devices. These levies can represent very different amounts (e.g. the levy on the same MP3 player is 900% higher in Austria than in Germany). The blanket nature of the system means authors and creators end-up paying levies for devices used in the creation of their own works (for example if they store a draft of their book on an external hard drive), just as job seekers pay a levy to photocopy their CV. There is also a need for transparency around the redistribution of these levies, not only for citizens, but also for authors and creators.