Ça y est ! The copyright amendments in the lead European Parliament committees have been proposed. From now on we are focused on building consensus and forging compromises. In the meanwhile, we answered the European Commission’s consultation on “data driven economy”, telling them that a new related right on data isn’t a swell idea. In Hungary, a new proposed law might make operating NGOs with funds from abroad very unpleasant.  

This and past reports:


Copyright reform - Amendments on the table: With the exception of the tardive Civil Liberties Committee all relevant bodies have proposed their amendments to the EU copyright reform text. [1] Why this is so important? From now on no new text can be added, meaning that the final version that the European Parliament will adopt must be made out of wordings and snippets already on the table. The rapporteurs and their shadows are starting to plough through the 3000+ amendments and to look for possible compromises.


Legal Affairs Committee (JURI): This is the main lead committee. Essentially, the version it adopts will be one voted on in plenary, except for Article 13 (upload filtering). We are still waiting for the committee's secretariat to compile the file with the 1000+ amendments and to send it to the translation services, which makes it a bit hard to analyse what we will be working against in the coming months. What we know for sure is that a full Freedom of Panorama has been proposed by MEPs from the Social Democrat, Liberal, Green and Radical Left groups. We are unsure about the Conservative Reformist group. We also know that a Safeguard the Public Domain clause has been proposed by the Social Democrat and Green shadow rapporteurs. Other than that, positive changes on the table are a complete deletion of the press publishers’ right, a removal of the upload filtering provisions, a full user-generated content exception, a full text and data mining exception and several broad educational exceptions.

What we cannot really know yet is what and how many negative proposals are heading our way. From here on the next step is for the rapporteur and her shadow rapporteurs (one from each political group) to figure out where they can reach an agreement ahead of the committee vote. The first consideration of amendments has been scheduled for the 29 & 30 May. Until then many conversations will be had.  


Internal Market Committee (IMCO): This committee takes the lead only on Article 13, which is asking for online platforms with large amounts of user-generated content to install “content recognition technologies” and to cooperate with rightsholders. There was a meeting of this committee last Monday where this role of online platforms was debated. [2] Although the context of the discussing included another Directive, there still seems to be a majority that recognises that this is also a censorship issue (something we have been raising). Even Christian Democrat MEPs are critical. It seem clear that Article 13 with substantially change in nature. It is however not clear how. Most MEPs want to keep some text included, but are struggling to find the wording that will appease most stakeholders. We from Wikimedia are emphasising that public domain content, content used under exceptions & limitations and freely licensed should be by default excluded from the provision. More importantly, we need to make sure that the intermediary liability provisions of the E-Commerce Directive remain in place. The million euro question is, what do rightsholders get in return, if we get all these safeguards and delete any mention of “content recognition technologies”?


Opinion Giving Committees:  The rapporteur of the Industry and Trade Committee (ITRE) has decided to work on an opinion dealing only with text and data mining and Article 13. On the first topic Mr. Krasnodebski (ECR PL) has proposed a full and broad exception that we can fully embrace. On the latter, his team are currently working on a compromise with the shadows. There is political willingness to listen to our concerns and try to reflect them in the compromise text.

The Culture Committee (CULT) is not great on too many issues, but has proposed a baseline Freedom of Panorama (mandatory everywhere but details up to Member States). What is a surprising turn is that the Christian Democrats are supporting such an exception while the Italian shadow from Movimento 5 Stelle, who have previously supported a full Freedom of Panorama, now prefers not having it at all.

The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) has, after some political wrangling, finally received the right to contribute an opinion. They are joining the procedure very late, which means that by the time they are done the lead committees might have already agreed on many compromises. Still, the LIBE opinion can be used to feed new wordings into the process.


European Data Economy Consultation: After roaming, data protection, privacy, digital contracts, geo-blocking and copyright, the European Commission is now tackling data as its next big Digital Single Market package. We have communicated to the Commission as early as 2016 (by form of meetings with the relevant units and two political cabinets) that the Database Rights Directive and the sui generis right it establishes is a major nuisance. Instead of tacking this clearly defined issue, the European Commission ran an extremely, blatantly biased consultation [3] (excuse me, but these qualifications are actually an understatement) on how to improve the European Data Economy. Their premise is that data is valuable and should be used and shared. Companies don’t share (read: sell) their data because they have no way to protect its economic value. So, by establishing a new copyright-like right on data, sharing in Europe will be fostered. Wikimedia [4][5] and EDRi [6] have answered the consultation. In our answers, we kept hammering the point across that current legal obstacles are what is hindering the sharing of non-personal data. We also called them out on their bias and made sure not to forget to mention that personal data must remain protected. Next we are expecting a dialogue or some other form of structured, real-life consultation.  


Hungary: The government proposed new law in Hungary that would require NGOs receiving more than 7.2M HUF (~23000 EUR) from foreign sources ("directly or indirectly", whatever that means) to register as an "organization supported from abroad" and say that on every publication it issues. It also includes stringent reporting criteria for foreign funds (including the name and location of every single donor). Text of the proposal [7] (in Hungarian), Council of Europe review. [8]

This is part of a trend of government hostility to NGOs, especially watchdog and liberal NGOs, which are seen as tools of international political forces. Another planned but not yet proposed legislation would require NGO officials to publish a wealth declaration, much like politicians.

This would probably be a significant burden on NGOs operating in a chapter/grant system like Wikimedia does, both administratively and because "organizations supported from abroad" would likely become targets of pro-government propaganda.

(HT Tisza Gergő)


Your Input: From now on this report will offer a tribune to policy related news from European countries. Please don’t hesitate to just drop me some text if you believe it fits here. Many thanks to Tisza for being the first to volunteer!