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Romania: Culture Ministry rallies copyright lobbyists

By EDRi · January 24, 2018

On 17 January 2018, the Romanian Ministry of Culture organised a debate on the EU copyright reform proposal. With the room full with about fifty participants, three quarters were representing press publishers, record labels and collective management associations. It seemed almost like a full-fledged campaign meeting organised for and by traditional newspapers and rightsholders organisations to rally support for Articles 11 and 13 of the Copyright Directive proposal – a support meeting coincidentally (or not) organised just prior to national officials presenting their country’s position on the copyright reform in Brussels.

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Romania still needs to finalise its national position. How will it play its cards with such a fresh memory of this rally for a new right for press publishers and content filtering?

During the debate, EDRi member Asociația pentru Tehnologie și Internet (ApTI) remained constant in asking for the deletetion of Articles 11 and 13 and contributed with a detailed opinion regarding the Estonian Presidency proposal from 13 December 2017. ApTI’s analysis also deconstructed the questions put forward to Member States which are perpetuating a false premise to reinterpret (“clarify” in the creative language of the Council Presidency) “communication to the public” and redesign the intermediary liability regime.

Although this was not the first public debate organised by the Ministry of Culture, it was surely the last one before the final national position is put forward. Several other debates were organised in 2016 and 2017 by the Ministry of Culture and the National Copyright Office (ORDA), without affirming a clear opinion on a national position.

ApTI sent its input in several stages of the process (see here and here) and in turn organised four public debates, especially on the most thorny aspects of the copyright reform such as “link tax” and “upload filters” and their consequences for users, freedom of speech, online media and digital business.

On 15 March 2017, the IT&C Committee of the Romanian Parliament held a roundtable debate. The meeting was fairly balanced with representatives from all sectors present and voicing concerns. After this, the Romanian Parliament issued its point of view. Regrettably, it did not mention Article 11 at all, but issued an overall negative report on the copyright reform.

In reply to the Romanian Parliament’s report, the European Commission gave an unsatisfying and partially misleading answer. Trying to give reassurance on the Romanian Parliament’s concern on the impact of Article 13, the Commission falsely invoked its Impact Assessment, which was criticised by the European Parliamentary Research Service and did not include the comments received during the European Commission public consultation between March-June 2016 .

Keeping all this in mind, as next in line for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Romania has the opportunity to set the record straight. It has the chance to point out that the objectives of the Digital Single Market cannot be achieved with a piece of legislation that produces even more fragmentation, attacks freedom of speech, and blocks innovation and creativity.

ApTI copyright reform video campaign (only in Romanian)

Romanian MEPs, you’ve got mail!

Romanian Parliament to European Commission: Copyright reform does more harm than good (24.05.2017)

Romanian Parliament point of view on the copyright reform (03.05.2017)

Chamber of Deputies (partially) agrees with ApTI: EU copyright reform proposal is not adapted to the modern society (only in Romanian, 08.05.2017)

Copyright reform proposal: summary of ApTI’s intervention at the ITC Commission public debate, Chamber of Deputies (only in Romanian)

Preliminary point of view on the copyright reform – Ministerul Culturii public debate (only in Romanian, 14.10.2016)

ApTI’s point of view regarding EU copyright reform and Estonian Presidency communication (only in Romanian, 18.01.2018)

(Contribution by Valentina Pavel, EDRi member ApTI, Romania)