By EDRi

Today, on 20 May 2019, EDRi and 41 other organisations sent an open letter to the European Commission. The letter is calling for the inclusion of civil society in the implementation process of the newly adopted Copyright Directive through the upcoming stakeholder dialogue.

The stakeholder dialogue is a consultation process mandated by the Copyright Directive. It will serve as an opportunity for relevant stakeholders to discuss the transposition and implementation of the infamous Article 13 (Article 17 in the final text) of the Copyright Directive.

The signatories of the letter have on numerous occasions throughout the legislative debate on the copyright reform expressed their explicit concerns about the fundamental rights questions that will arise during the implementation of the Directive.

The letter highlights that the participation of organisations representing internet users in the consultation process is crucial for ensuring that fundamental rights are properly considered, especially in cases where the Directive requires internet platforms to disable access to or remove user-uploaded content. A diverse working group can ensure that the fears around automated upload filters are not realised. It can assist in creating guidelines under which both content-sharing service providers and rightsholders respect the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

You can read the letter below, or download it here (pdf).


20 May 2019

Dear President Juncker,
Dear First Vice-President Timmermans,
Dear Vice-President Ansip,
Dear Commissioner Gabriel,
Dear Director General Roberto Viola,

The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organizations, the knowledge community (in particular libraries), free and open source software developers, and communities from across the European Union.

The new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has been adopted and, as soon as it is published in the Official Journal, Member States will have two years to implement the new rules. Article 17, on ‘certain uses of protected content by online services’, foresees that the European Commission will issue guidance on the application of this Article.

The undersigned organisations have, on numerous occasions throughout the legislative debate on the copyright reform, expressed their very explicit concerns (1) about the fundamental and human rights questions that will appear in the implementation of the obligations laid down on online content-sharing service providers by Article 17. These concerns have also been shared by a wide variety of other stakeholders, the broad academic community of intellectual property scholars, as well as Members of the European Parliament and individual Member States. (2)

We consider that, in order to mitigate these concerns, it is of utmost importance that the European Commission and Member States engage in a constructive transposition and implementation to ensure that the fears around automated upload filters are not realized.

We believe that the stakeholder dialogues and consultation process foreseen in Article 17(10) to provide input on the drafting of guidance around the implementation of this Article should be as inclusive as possible. The undersigned organisations represent consumers and work to enshrine fundamental rights into EU law and national-level legislation.

These organisations are stakeholders in this process, and we call upon the European Commission to ensure the participation of human rights and digital rights organisations, as well as the knowledge community (in particular libraries), free and open source software developers, and communities in all of its efforts around the transposition and implementation of Article 17. This would include the planned Working Group, as well as other stakeholder dialogues, or any other initiatives at consultation level and beyond.

Such broad and inclusive participation is crucial for ensuring that the national implementations of Article 17 and the day-to-day cooperation between online content-sharing service providers and rightholders respects the Charter of Fundamental Rights by safeguarding citizens’ and creators’ freedom of expression and information, whilst also protecting their privacy. These should be the guiding principles for a harmonized implementation of Article 17 throughout the Digital Single Market.

Yours sincerely,
Balázs Dénes
Executive Director
Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)

Association for Progressive Communications
APADOR-CH
ApTi Romania
Article 19
Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais
Associação Nacional para o Software Livre – Portugal
Bits of Freedom
BlueLink Foundation
Center for Media & Democracy
Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation
Civil Liberties Union for Europe
Coalizione Italiana Libertà e Diritti civili
COMMUNIA association for the Public Domain
Creative Commons
Digitalcourage
Digitale Gesellschaft e. V.
Electronic Frontier Finland
Electronic Frontiers Foundation
Elektronisk Forpost Norge
epicenter.works
European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Fitug e.v.
Hermes Center
Hivos
Homo Digitalis
Human Rights Monitoring Institute
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Index on Censorship
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
Irish Council for Civil Liberties
IT-Pol Denmark
La Quadrature du Net
Metamorphosis Foundation
Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten (NJCM)
Open Rights Group
Peace Institute
Privacy First
Rights International Spain
Vrijschrift
Wikimedia Deutschland e. V.
Wikimedia Foundation
Xnet

1 Human rights and digital rights organisations: https://www.liberties.eu/en/news/delete-article-thirteen-open-letter/13194
2 Academics from the leading European research centres: https://www.create.ac.uk/blog/2019/03/24/the-copyright-directive-articles-11-and-13-must-go-statement-from-european-academics-in-advance-of-the-plenary-vote-on-26-march-2019/
Max Plank Institute: https://www.ip.mpg.de/fileadmin/ipmpg/content/stellungnahmen/Answers_Article_13_2017_Hilty_Mosconrev-18_9.pdf
Universities: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3054967
Researchers: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/assets/imported/transforms/content-lock/UsefulDownloads_Download/A6F51035708E4D9EA3582EE9A5CC4C36/Open%20Letter.pdf
UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Opinion/Legislation/OL-OTH-41-2018.pdf

Background

After two and a half years of inter-institutional negotiations, the European Parliament adopted the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market on 26 March 2018. Rules bind the European Commission to hold stakeholder dialogues and the consultation process after the Directive is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member states will then have two years to implement the regulation. Regarding Article 17, a guidance on the application will be issued by the European Commission in order to help national implementation processes.

Read more

Open letter on the Copyright Directive stakeholder dialogue (20.05.2019)
https://edri.org/files/copyright/20190517-EDRI_copyright_open_letter.pdf

EU Member States give green light for copyright censorship (15.04.2019)
https://edri.org/eu-member-states-give-green-light-for-copyright-censorship/

Filters Incorporated (19.04.2019)
https://edri.org/filters-inc/

Censorship machine takes over internet (26.03.2019)
https://edri.org/censorship-machine-takes-over-eu-internet/

Copyright reform: Document pool
https://edri.org/copyright-reform-document-pool/