The EU copyright reform has entered into the first decisive phase in the
European Parliament. The lead committee (Legal Affairs) is collecting
amendment proposals until 12 April. After that, the rapporteur and her
shadows will try to make sense of all the proposals and find compromises
that can be carried by majorities. This is the first chance for us to
include the changes we need in this reform. Our priorities are FoP, Public
Domain, TDM and UGC.
This and past reports: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/EU_policy/Monitor
Copyright reform - Positive change we are working on
Freedom of Panorama: The Commission had “forgotten” to include FoP in its
proposal back in September , despite stating that it was a relevant
issue and calling upon Member States to implement it.  In the meanwhile
the French EPP MEP Marc Joulaud has proposed a baseline Freedom of Panorama
in his draft opinion for the Culture committee.  The proposal would
require all EU countries to introduce this exception while leaving all
details up to them. The floor for amendments to the culture committee’s
opinion has been closed now. From a political view it will be critical to
keep FoP in this committee’s text, which is what we will be working on.
Meanwhile, the deadline for filing amendments to the opinion of the
Internal Market committee  has also passed. Wikimedia has worked with
MEPs from the S&D, ALDE and Greens groups to table Freedom of Panorama
amendments. We must now focus on getting a committee majority for it.
In parallel, the lead committee (Legal Affairs)  is accepting amendments
until 12 April. We are working with MEPs from most groups to try and
convince them to table Freedom of Panorama proposals. Volunteers with
connections to MEPs from their countries are more than welcome to join the
process. If you haven’t already been contacted by me, please get in touch!
Public Domain: Several ongoing disputes over the use of public domain
images make this a top priority for us.  If we are successful at
introducing a “public domain safeguard” to the EU copyright framework this
would provide legal clarity for the digitisation of cultural heritage
works. It would also be the first time the public domain is defined in EU
law. We have introduced amendment proposals for such a safeguard in the
Internal Market committee and are working on doing the same thing in the
Legal Affairs committee.
What would help now is if we find more cultural heritage organisations
(GLAMs) who are willing to support this. So, if you are in touch with a
museum or archive that could agree to getting in touch with a MEP, please
drop me a line!
User-Generated Content: This is something that wasn’t on anyone’s radar,
simply because we didn’t expect there would be policy makers courageous
enough to propose it. A user-generated content exception would allow the
re-use of parts of copyrighted works in the creation of a new work.
Examples of such uses would be the film poster in a Wikipedia article. In
this sense, it is not unlike fair use in the US. UCG has been proposed in
the Culture committee by French rapporteur Marc Joulaud (EPP) and in the
Internal Market committee by Scottish rapporteur Catherine Stihlers (S&D).
Unfortunately, Miss Stihler’s version is limited to non-commercial uses
only. Wikimedia is now working on keeping Mr. Joulaud’s text while fixing
Mr. Stihler’s. We are also seeking the best path to opening up this
discussion in the Legal Affairs committee.
Text and Data Mining: From all exceptions we are working on, this one seems
to be the one getting the most support. MEPs from across countries,
political groups and committees broadly agree that the technical analysis
of text and data shouldn’t require an additional license or permission,
once legal access to these has been obtained. However, there are still a
handful of members (mainly German EPP) who continue their vocal opposition
to a full exception and want to limit it to non-commercial uses, or to uses
by research organisations (the Commission’s original proposal). Wikimedia
supports rapporteurs Comodini (MT, EPP, JURI), Krasnodebski (PL, ECR, ITRE)
and Stihler (UK, S&D, IMCO) who are calling for a full exception.
Copyright reform - Negative change we are trying to prevent
Upload Filtering: There is a proposal to make all online platforms that
host user-generated install “content recognition technologies” and sign
agreements with rightsholders is worrisome. It could mean automatic content
take-downs on our projects. Additionally, the systems in question do not
recognise exceptions and limitations or other free speech provisions. They
are also alarmingly similar to censorship infrastructures used by countries
with non-free internet access.
The rapporteur in the Legal Affairs committee, Therese Comodini, already
significantly weakened this article  to make sure the E-Commerce
Directive, which guarantees liability protections for online platforms like
Wikipedia, is not touched upon. The rapporteur of the opinion in the
Internal Market committee, Catherine Stihler, also re-wrote the proposal to
make sure free & open project do not fall into the scope. We must now
support these two MEPs to make sure they withstand internal opposition from
within their groups. On this article we are working in close coordination
with like-minded organisations such as EDRi and Copyright4Creativity .
Ancillary Copyright: The idea of granting a new related right to press
publications is not new. It already failed in Belgium, in Germany and in
Spain.  The problem for us is, that the version of this right proposed
for by the European Commission could make the use annotated bibliographies
or even links that contain the name of the article become illegal unless a
license is granted. This is not only nonsensical but also outright
It seems like the charge to removing this proposal is getting a solid
amount of traction. In the European Parliament, the rapporteurs in the two
most important committees for copyright (Legal Affairs and Internal Market)
propose to delete this article (Stihler) or to simply turn it into a “legal
standing guarantee” for publishers. Even in the Council the chances are
stacked against this new right. Apart from Germany and Estonia, the
governments of EU Member States don’t seem enthusiastic about this.
Copyright Reform - Next steps
As if there weren’t enough opinions and voices on copyright, a fifth
opinion giving committee has been added to mix. The Civil Liberties
committee  should finalise its report by 8 June. More importantly, the
Legal Affairs committee is accepting amendment proposals until 12 April.
After this date, the rapporteur and her shadows will start meeting on a
regular basis at so-called “shadow meetings” to try to make sense of the
expected several thousand amendments and will attempt to forge compromises.
If a compromise can be found, it will be voted on by the committee as
compromise amendment. CAs usually pass with safe majorities. If there is no
compromise, then the individual amendments are voted on one by one.
Simultaneously, the Member States are trying to establish their own
positions and priorities on this dossier. About half of them still haven’t
reached a national position on these matters, which makes it still possible
for us to influence them.
Sometimes in politics being opportunistic is a merit. Shortly after the EU
copyright reform was announced, the European Commission also proposed a new
Directive on digital contracts.  BEUC, the European Consumer
Organisation  is now trying to include a safeguard for copyright
exceptions and limitation. It would mean that European law prohibits the
contractual override of copyright exceptions and limitations. We believe
this is a worthwhile endeavour and support them by asking MEPs who we have
good working relationships with to support the proposal.
Big Fat Brussels Meeting
As mentioned above, influencing the position of European governments on
copyright reform is still possible and necessary. Therefore, this year’s
Big Fat Brussels Meeting  that will take place in Brussels on the 22
and 23 April will focus on developing an integrated “Council Strategy” for
Wikimedia’s communities. There is no formal registration (please add your
name to the Meta-Wiki page) and everyone willing to work on making the
above mentioned goals reality is welcome!