On 10 November 2016, EDRi member Asociația pentru Tehnologie și Internet (ApTI) and Internet Advertising Bureau România (IAB România) organised a debate regarding the European Commission’s copyright reform proposal and its impact on digital rights.
The goal of the debate was to communicate the participants’ positions to the Romanian representatives taking part in the European negotiations.
There were 27 participants representing a wide array of interests, such as publishers, online technology companies, mainstream media, independent journalists, bloggers, vloggers, academics, content creators and internet users. The meeting had two main topics of debate:
- mandatory filtering of content being uploaded to online platforms
- ancillary copyright (the “link tax”)
The reform could have a significant impact for multiple types of online businesses, such as content creators and content aggregators, online platforms, as well as anybody who publishes content on the internet.
The views that the participants presented included the following:
- The impact assessment doesn’t take into account the rights of the internet users;
- The reform proposal ignores the realities of today’s digital environment and treats internet users as simple consumers, instead of rightfully treating them as both creators and consumers, who enjoy the same rights as any other traditional content creator;
- The proposal doesn’t recognise the potential and the importance of supporting education;
- Vague definitions and unclear terms such as “proportionate”, “appropriate” or “reasonable” will create difficulties for those in charge of enforcing the law. This will lead to subjective interpretations and, thus, to abuses;
- The proposal endangers freedom of speech because of the proposed automatic filtering of content uploaded to online platforms. Any attempt to regulate the activity of online platform can lead to abuses of power and censorship;
- New business models need to be facilitated, instead of extending copyright in order to prop up traditional models. Traditional businesses need to keep up with the evolution of the digital world and adapt, instead of demanding new rights in order to hold on their market position at the expense of users;
- Despite needing to protect all stakeholders, the balance of copyright is being pushed towards satisfying the demands of the big music and movie industries, and away from protecting small creators and users. Any more measures that increase the powers of copyright holders will have the result of blocking innovation and development.
The participants identified the need for a specialised court handling copyright cases in order to decide what is unauthorised content and what is not. The reality is that judges in Romania do not have a common practice in respect of copyright law. They often lack understanding on how technical enforcement for copyright protection affects the online world and user rights.
Moreover, awarding online platforms both the power to decide on what content can be uploaded and to decide what needs to be filtered leads to possible abuses and to very sensitive situations where automatic solutions prove very limited.
The first public consultation in Romania on the copyright reform proposal was organised on 11 November 2016 by the Ministry of Culture. The national consultation process is ongoing and comments are welcomed in English and Romanian at email@example.com. EDRi member ApTI submitted a preliminary position and encourages further discussions and sending comments and opinions to the ministry. ApTI also one of the signatories of Creative Commons open letter to the EU Member States, signalling the flawed copyright reform tentative and asking for a major policy shift.
ApTI: Preliminary point of view on the copyright reform (only in Romanian)
Creative Commons open letter to EU Member States
(Contribution by EDRi member Asociația pentru Tehnologie și Internet, Romania)