By Diego Naranjo

“I’ve got two 12-year-old criminals in my kitchen and that can’t be right”

(Jonathan Worth, professional photographer)

The first round of debates surrounding the copyright reform in the European Parliament are reaching their last stages. Pavel Svoboda’s report on Intellectual Property Right (IPR) enforcement was published on 19 May. The report contains a mixture of negative and positive elements which need to be taken into consideration.

Among the negative aspects, we find simplistic statements, for example that IPR infringements discourage growth (Recital D). In reality, the situation is far more nuanced. For example, while the slow adaptation of the music industry to the digital environment has driven a lot of infringements, the market has adapted. Income from concerts is, in fact, growing in the last years. The omnipresent mantras of “follow the money” and “commercial scale” are now happily together in the same paragraph (paragraph 3), still without a clear definition of what these concepts imply. Nobody has sought to define “follow the money” while even the European Commission has said that its 9-year-old definition of “commercial scale” is probably inadequate.

Then, all sprinkled through the Report, there is positive commentary to the generally lamentable work of the Observatory on IPR infringements. Taking into consideration the numerous flaws of much of the output of the Observatory, the gratuitous fawning and, even worse, the calls to use its work to build upon it a new “Intellectual Property” legal framework, seems misplaced and ill-informed to say the least. There is also a mention of the “lack of awareness” of the young generation of the importance of IPR infringements, referring to a study which does not actually say that. It also seems to ignore the results of the copyright consultation where thousands of users called for a Intellectual Property (IP) framework adapted to the 21st century. Finally, the call for “cooperation” of the main Internet stakeholders, which sounds too much like the same old call to privatised law enforcement and the undefined call to “follow the money”.

Among the positive elements, the Report presents calls for balances between fundamental rights and privatised law enforcement (paragraph 10), although it is not clear what this call actually means. There is also the support for attractive licit offers to combat unauthorised use of content (paragraph 37) and for a “comprehensive legal framework to combat IPR infringement adapted to the online environment, with full regard for fundamental rights and freedoms, fair trials, proportionality and data protection” (paragraph 57). Finally, the Report asks for measures “guaranteeing a balanced approach representing the interests of all stakeholders involved, and, in particular, of consumers and their right of access to content” (paragraph 58).

The Plenary of the European Parliament will vote on Svoboda’s Report on 9 June.

Julia Reda’s Report on the implementation of the so-called InfoSoc Directive (one of the foundations of EU Copyright law), on the other hand, has been delayed and is now going to be voted in the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) on 16 June. The recently launched copywrongs.eu website contains a good summary of concrete proposals on the harmonisation of exceptions and limitations and for a modernised EU Copyright framework. This new framework should be one where the vast majority of citizens are not considered as offenders of intellectual property rights for doing things that seem (and are) perfectly normal, such as private copying or re-using copyrighted material for parody purposes. The copywrongs site also offers a free user-friendly tool developed by EDRi observer La Quadrature du Net to call Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to let them know your position on the debate.

Given the immense disproportion between rightsholders’ lobbyists and civil society advocates, this tool will help to amplify citizens’ voice. Since there are only a few days before the vote, the time is to get informed via our handbook on copyright and via copywrongs.eu and to take action now for a modernised EU copyright framework!

Copywrongs.eu
https://copywrongs.eu/

EDRi’s document pool on the copyright reform
https://edri.org/copyright-reform-docpool/

Summary report of the responses to the copyright public consultation (30.06.2014)
https://edri.org/summary-report-responses-copyright-consultation/

Economists say P2P file-sharing fuels art (18.06.2009)
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/18/harvard_working_paper_weak_copyright_protections_benefit_society/

Copyright in the age of the internet (EP video)
http://europarltv.europa.eu/en/player.aspx?pid=97a32df5-0d5f-435b-b573-a49f00a8f175

EDRi paper: Copyright – challenges of the digital era
https://edri.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/paper07_web_20130202.pdf

C4C Copyright Manifesto
http://copyright4creativity.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/C4C-Copyright-Manifesto-20150119.pdf

(Contribution by Diego Naranjo, EDRi)

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