Tuesday, 18 February 2020

November 2017 Open Letter on EU © Reform

Over 80 organisations representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders join forces to warn Member states and EU Institutions that the discussion around the Copyright Directive are on the verge of causing irreparable damage


On 30 November, over 80 organisations (see the full list below) sent this open letter [PDF] to the Ministers attending the Competitiveness Council and the EU institutions.

This is the 1st time that such a broad spectrum of organisations – representing human and digital rights, media freedom, publishers, journalists, libraries, scientific and research institutions, educational institutions including universities, creator representatives, consumers, software developers, start-ups, technology businesses and Internet service providers – join forces to send a strong signal to the Member States packaged into one sentence.

The signatories warn the Member states that the discussion around the Copyright Directive are on the verge of causing irreparable damage to our fundamental rights and freedoms, our economy and competitiveness, our education and research, our innovation and competition, our creativity and our culture.

To show the substance behind that sentence, the letter refers in annex to 29 letters and analyses sent previously by various European stakeholders and experts for more details (see some of the statements below), and which notably emphasise the negative impact of the copyright overhaul proposed notably in Articles 13 (monitoring and censoring of user uploads), 11 (press publishers’ rights, aka ancillary copyright) and, 3 (text and data mining), 4 (education), 5 (cultural heritage preservation) and 7 to 9 (out-of-commerce works).

“At this stage, all arguments have been set out repeatedly by all affected stakeholder, and this from all possible angles. This letter is a warning that the copyright downwards spiral must be stopped before it is too late”, states Caroline De Cock from Copyright for Creativity.

The open letter signatories represent:

  • European and global organisations, as well as national organisations from across 16 EU Member States;
  • over 40 human, privacy, civil rights and media freedom organisations;
  • almost 70.000 libraries across Europe and about 100 million European library users;
  • 1000’s of startups across Europe;
  • more than 850 higher education institutions in 47 countries (including all EU Member States);
  • 100’s of Internet service providers and hosting companies across Europe that serve millions of users;
  • and many others.

Some of the points that were previously brought to the EU legislators’ attention:

“Article 13 (…) is disproportionate and irreconcilable with the fundamental rights guarantees in the Charter [of Fundamental Rights of the EU]” (p. 14) and “contains imbalanced, undefined legal concepts that make it incompatible with the existing acquis” (p. 23).

20 October, 2017 – Recommendation co-signed by over 50 respected academics on measures to safeguard fundamental rights and the open Internet in the framework of the EU copyright reform.

“Article 13 of the proposal on Copyright in the Digital Single Market include obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens’ fundamental rights.”

16 October, 2017 – Open letter from over 50 NGOs representing human rights and media freedom asking the EU legislators to delete Article 13.

“These filtering algorithms will ultimately decide what material software developers should be allowed to share.”

29 September, 2017 – Open letter launched by the Free Software Foundation Europe and OpenForum Europe to secure the free and open source software ecosystem in the EU copyright review.

“Article 11 will (…) have serious negative effects on the quality of the press, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression of EU citizens.”

25 September, 2017 – Open letter from the coalition of innovative media publishers to Members of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on the introduction of a new neighbouring right under Article 11 of the Copyright Directive.

“(…) ensure that Articles 3 to 9 support new forms of research and education and not work against them.”

6 September, 2017 – Open letter from a group of representatives of European academic, library, education, research and digital rights communities to the Members of the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee of the European Parliament on how the EU copyright reform threatens Open Access and Open Science.

“We are alarmed that the policies described in the proposed Article 13 of the Commission’s text could cripple the growth of online innovation for startups that already exist, while also preventing new, innovative startups from entering the marketplace.”

5 April, 2017 – Letter from over 20 startups and online services to Members of the European Parliament to raise their raise their serious concerns regarding proposed Article 13.

Open letter signatories

1Access Info EuropeEurope
3Allied for StartupsEurope
4ARTICLE 19Global
5Asociación de InternautasSpain
6Asociación Española de StartupsSpain
7Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D³)Portugal
8Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)Portugal
9Association for Progressive Communications (APC)Global
10Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)Romania
11Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER)Europe
12Association of Publishers of Periodical Publications (AEEPP)Spain
13Association of the Defence of Human Rights in Romania  (APADOR-CH)Romania
14Association of the Internet Industry (eco)Germany
15Austrian StartupsAustria
16Bits of Freedom (BoF)Netherlands
17BlueLink Civic Action NetworkBulgaria
19Bulgarian Helsinki CommitteeBulgaria
20Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)Global
21Centrum CyfrowePoland
22Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)Europe
23Communia AssociationGlobal
24Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA)Global
25Copyright for Creativity (C4C)Europe
26Create Refresh CampaignEurope
27Creative CommonsGlobal
29Dutch Association of Public Libraries (VOB)Netherlands
31Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)Global
33Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL)Estonia
34Estonian Startup Leaders ClubEstonia
35European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA)Europe
36European Digital Rights (EDRi)Europe
37European Innovative Media PublishersEurope
38European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA)Europe
39European University Association (EUA)Europe
40Factory BerlinEurope
41Federation of Hellenic Information Technology & Communications Enterprises (SEPE)Greece
42France DigitaleFrance
43Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU (FKAGEU)Europe
44Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)Europe
45Frënn vun der ËnnLuxemburg
46German Library Association (dbv)Germany
47Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human RightsItaly
48Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF)Global
49Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)Hungary
50Index on CensorshipGlobal
51Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL)Germany
52International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)Global
53ISPA AustriaAustria
54Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD)Italy
55Italian Internet Service Providers Association (AIIP)Italy
56Justice & PeaceNetherlands
58l’Association des Services Internet Communautaires (ASIC)France
59League of European Research Universities (LERU)Europe
60Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA)UK
61Media Development CenterBulgaria
62Mind the BridgeGlobal
63Modern Poland FoundationPoland
64National Online Printing Association (ANSO)Italy
65Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC)Netherlands
66Open Knowledge International (OKI)Global
67Open Rights Group (ORG)UK
69Platform for the Defence of Free Expression (PDLI)Spain
70Portuguese Association for Free Education (AEL)Portugal
71Public Libraries 2020Europe
73Roma StartupItaly
74SA&S – Partnership for Copyright & SocietyBelgium
75Science EuropeEurope
77Silicon AlleeGermany
78SPARC EuropeEurope
79Startup PolandPoland
81Wikimedia DeutschlandGermany

Additional signatories

84Technology IrelandIreland
85European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES)Europe

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Herman Rucic is Senior Policy Manager in the secretariat of the Copyright 4 Creativity (C4C) coalition. He is Senior Policy Manager at N-square Consulting since September 2010. [All content from this author is made available under a CC BY 4.0 license]