ENDitorial: EDRi letter on Licences for Europe

By EDRi · July 3, 2013

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Deutsch: [ENDitorial: EDRi-Schreiben in Sachen ‘Licences for Europe’ |]

EDRi send today, 3 July 2013, the following letter to Commissioners
Kroes, Vassiliou and Barnier regarding the Working Group 1 of “Licences
for Europe” initiative:

We are very pleased to see that our constructive participation in the
Working Group has been noticed and appreciated. However, we deeply
regret that the concerns expressed during the discussions are not
reflected in the minutes of the meetings, which appears to be a common
theme across the whole project.

We are grateful that you recognised the importance of the users’ point
of view but, in the absence of commercial users in the meetings and so
few representatives of civil society, it is very difficult to have a
balanced discussion that will give due consideration of all perspectives
of the problems encountered with regard to cross-border access and
service portability in the European Union. While you refer in your
letter to a win-win situation for all stakeholders, it is very hard to
understand how such a situation can be achieved in Working Group 1, when
not all interests are represented during the meetings. Stakeholder
dialogues may be useful if all stakeholders are represented, but
unfortunately it is far from being the case here.

In your letter, you plead in favour of a market-led solution that can
improve the situation for users and this does indeed sound like an
appealing solution. However, most of the presentations have simply
elaborated on current practices and did not consider the issue to be
discussed: how to facilitate better cross-border services for citizens.
We can probably agree that if current practices were the solution, this
stakeholder dialogue would not be happening.

European citizens are still facing a weak and poorly serviced market. A
market-led solution improving the situation for users is only possible
if the legal framework enables service providers to offer proper EU-wide
services. Unfortunately, in this context we face problems that have
their roots in the EU legal framework. The overarching problem is the
territoriality of national copyright laws. Therefore, we strongly
believe that the current legal framework should be discussed in this
stakeholder dialogue. We are pleased to hear that the European
Commission is working on a review of the legal framework and we are not
arguing that “Licences for Europe” should be the instance deciding on a
reform or not, but we do believe that the current legal framework and
the barriers it creates to the realisation of a digital single market
should be part of the discussion.

In our opinion, the European Commission made fundamental mistakes when
launching this initiative. In particular, it started the search for a
solution to certain problems without defining what the problems actually
were and then created the four working groups to solve, it appears, four
sets of undefined problems. The methodology of the Commission of being
“in” this process (launching it, chairing the sessions, preparing
minutes, etc), but “outside” the process (and therefore unable to
facilitate the creation of clear problem definitions from the outset) is
simply not credible and cannot produce credible results.

EDRi strongly believes that the lack of access for EU citizens to more
and, more importantly, better legal offers cross-border is a horizontal
problem. The division into sub-groups was decided during the first
meeting and supported by some members. In the absence of a problem
definition, the only thing that was clearly defined is what could not be
discussed – the legal framework.

As you have noticed, the representation of civil society and users is a
very small minority of the participants, making it difficult to make our
concerns heard – this situation being exacerbated by the multiplication
of working groups. In reality, the root problem is the same for all
sectors: the lack of availability of cross-border access and service
portability caused by the application of the current legal framework
which should have been the starting point of the discussion. The
sub-division would have been justified if reasons had been identified
that called for such an approach.

You kindly offer to facilitate our participation to the stakeholder
dialogue and to provide financial assistance, for which we thank you.
However, we will have to decline this offer as in our view the problem
of this dialogue in the discussion is much deeper than only budgetary

We would be really pleased to meet and discuss further on a potential
reform of the EU copyright legislation with the relevant
Directorates-General. Nevertheless, due to the lack of productive
discussions in Working Group 1, we regret to inform you that we see no
other option than to leave Working Group 1 of Licences for Europe. We
hope that you will understand our decision and that you will still be
open to discussion with us in the future.

European Commission Answer to EDRi and EBLIDA letter of 3.04.2013

EDRi-gram: Licences for Europe: Request to broaden the discussions

ENDitorial: Licences for Europe and fight club… only one rule (13.02.2013)

EDRi letter from 3 July 2013