Brussels
30 May 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Copyright coalition demands 'ambitious' EU copyright reform


More than 60 groups and associations, including Mozilla and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have signed a letter demanding more “ambitious” copyright reform in the EU.

The letter, written by members of the Copyright for Creativity (C4C) initiative and addressed to members of European Parliament, argued that the European Commission’s proposal for a directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market has “failed to meet the expectations of European citizens and businesses”.

“Instead of supporting Europeans in the digital economy, it is backward looking. We need European lawmakers to oppose the most damaging aspects of the proposal, but also embrace a more ambitious agenda for positive reform.”

The groups said that these reforms must uphold and strengthen fundamental principles, such as the rights of citizens to freedom of communication and access to knowledge.

They target three key sections of the commission’s proposal, including Article 13, which covers user uploads, and Article 11, which strengthens press publishers’ rights, chiefly the controversial ‘link right’.

Under the copyright directive proposal, Article 13 proposes that platforms and services such as YouTube use content recognition technologies to remove potentially infringing subject matter from their sites

According to the groups, Article 13 should not be used to impose private censorship on EU citizens.

“The provision on the so-called ‘value gap’ is designed to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they want to have any chance of staying in business,” the letter says.

“The commission’s proposal misrepresents European court rulings and seeks to impose contradictory obligations on member states.”

For Article 11, which would allow press publishers to acquire licence fees from third parties that use snippets of their content, the groups said that the creation of additional rights, such as the publisher’s right or ‘link right’, would damage the credibility of the EU and the competitiveness of businesses in the digital environment.

Earlier this month, one of the letter's signatories, Mozilla, created an online digital advocacy game that allowed users to “hover over European cities and drop digital leaflets” to fight against constrictive European copyright laws.

The Firefox creator said that copyright law is “threatening the health of the internet” and that reform is at a “critical juncture”.

“We know lawmakers are listening. Last year, Mozilla and our allies collected hundreds of thousands of signatures calling for copyright reform that would foster innovation and creativity in Europe.”

It added: “Some members of the European Parliament have been working diligently to improve the commission’s proposal, and have taken into account some of the changes we’ve called for, such as removing dangerous provisions like mandatory upload filters, and pushing back against extending copyright to links and snippets.”

“But many other lawmakers need to be convinced not to break the internet, and to support a modern copyright reform that empowers creators, innovators and internet users.”

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