Friday 24 February 2017

European Copyrigh Reform: Open Letter from European Research Centres

On 14 September 2016, the European Commission published a package of reform proposals, including two Regulations (that have direct effect in Member States) and two Directives (that will have to be implemented into national laws).


EU Copyright Reform Proposals Unfit for the Digital Age

We are independent legal, economic and social scientists, and represent the leading European centres researching intellectual property and innovation law.

It is likely that you personally are being lobbied with regard to a complex Copyright Reform package that extends to 3 Regulations and 2 Directives (supported by over 400 pages of Impact Assessments).

The proposals say the right words on the cover: “EU Copyright Rules Fit For The Digital Age. Better choice & access to content online and across borders. Improved copyright rules for education, research, cultural heritage and inclusion of disabled people. A fairer online environment for creators and the press.”

While the Proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (COM(2016) 593 final) contains a number of reasonable, common sense measures (for example relating to cross border access, out-of-commerce works, and access for the benefit of visually impaired people), there are two provisions that are fundamentally flawed. They do not serve the public interest.

Article 11 seeks to create an additional exclusive right for press publishers, even though press publishers already acquire exclusive rights from authors via contract. The additional right will deter communication of news, obstruct online licensing, and will negatively affect authors.

Article 13 indirectly tries to amend the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) that arranges the liability of online intermediaries for user generated content into a shared responsibility of rights holders and service providers. The proposals will hinder digital innovation and users’ participation.

With respect to both provisions, independent empirical evidence has been ignored, consultations have been summarised in a misleading manner, and legitimate criticism has been labelled as anti-copyright. We urge you to look inside the copyright package and seek out independent expertise.

In order to facilitate debate, we have produced two short appendices to this letter, setting out the key flaws of the proposals, and listing sources of evaluation. There is independent scientific consensus that Articles 11 and 13 cannot be allowed to stand.

First signatories include academics of the following Research Centres: The Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law (CIPIL), University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; Centre d’Etudes Internationales de la Propriété Intellectuelle (CEIPI), University of Strasbourg, France; RCUK Copyright Centre (CREATe), University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK; Chair for Civil and Intellectual Property Law, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany; Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands; Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich, Germany; Center for Internet & Society (NEXA), Politecnico di Torino, Italy; Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Barcelona, Spain; SciencesPo Paris, France; Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society & Tilburg Law and Economics Center, University of Tilburg, Netherlands

You may agree with the letter - you may disagree! But it's well worth a read and you can download the letter here

and here's a link  to the form where academics can join the letter

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