Monday, 22 July 2024

Over 145 organisations ask Council to STOP a rushed EU © Reform

Over 145 organisations representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders join forces to call upon the EU Member State Ambassadors to continue technical discussions on the copyright reform and to not grant the Bulgarian Council Presidency a mandate to negotiate with the European Parliament

On 26 April, over 145 organisations (see the full list below) sent this open letter [PDF] on the EU copyright reform to the EU Member State Ambassadors and Deputy Ambassadors ahead of the 27 April meeting of the Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the European Union (COREPER). At this meeting, the Bulgarian Council Presidency wants that the EU Member States (1) endorse their latest copyright proposal and (2) give them a mandate to negotiate on the copyright reform with the European Parliament.

Two issues are at stake:

  1. The latest copyright proposal from the Bulgarian Presidency is in a bad shape: the text proposed by the Bulgarian Presidency does not reflect a balanced compromise, and does not address the many legitimate concerns that have been raised. As the increased cries of protest by both academics and all the signatories of the open letter demonstrate, the proposal on the table represents a major threat to the freedoms of European citizens and businesses and promises to severely harm Europe’s openness, competitiveness, innovation, science, research and education.
  2. There is absolutely no reason to rush for such a mandate to be granted now: the European Parliament (EP) is far from ready to negotiate, as the vote in the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee is only scheduled for 20-21 June. This mandate seems to entail that the Bulgarians believe they will achieve something between the 20th and the 30th of June or that they want to tie the hands of the next Presidency, which will be run by the Austrians.

The signatories of this open letter – European and global organisations, as well as national organisations from 28 EU Member States, represent 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. They repeat and amplify the voices raised previously to express their deep concerns about the artificial sense of urgency created by the Bulgarian Presidency.

This rush is especially harmful as:

  • It indicates the dismissive attitude of the Council presidency towards the repeated warnings from a broad spectrum of European stakeholders and experts, including academics, educators, NGOs representing human rights and media freedom, software developers and startups (see, amongst others, the November 2017 open letter by over 80 organisations, see the October 2017 open letter by over 50 NGOs representing human rights and media freedom, and the October 2017 recommendation co-signed by 56 respected academics); and,
  • It has been accompanied by an exclusion of national experts from Member States in multiple Council discussions, preferring ‘political fixes’ to substantial arguments.

The signatories warn the EU Member States that if they accept to move forward as proposed by the Bulgarian Presidency:

  1. this legislation will be an utter nightmare when it will have to be transposed into national legislation and face the test of its legality in terms of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Bern Convention, with so many legal uncertainties and collateral damages still present; and,
  2. there will be a huge gap between stated intentions and the damage that the text will actually achieve if the actual language on the table remains. More specifically:
  • Article 13 (user uploads) creates a liability regime for a vast area of online platforms that negates the E-commerce Directive, against the stated will of many Member States, and without any proper assessment of its impact. It creates a new ‘notice’ and takedown regime that does not require a proper notice as set out under the Ecommerce Directive, as rightholders must simply inform platforms of their works, without having to point were infringing material is located, which implies searching a needle in a haystack.
  • Article 11 (press publisher’s right) solely focusses on creating a publisher rights despite the many voices opposing such a right and highlighting it flaws, including voices of many Member States, some of which proposed several alternatives such as a “presumption of transfer of rights”.
  • Article 3 (text and data mining) cannot be limited in terms of scope of beneficiaries or purposes if the EU wants to be at the forefront of innovations such as artificial intelligence. It can also not become a voluntary provision if we want to leverage the wealth of expertise of the EU’s research community across borders.
  • Articles 4 to 9 fail to create an environment that enables educators, researchers, students and cultural heritage professionals to embrace the digital environment and be able to preserve, create and share knowledge and European culture. It must be clearly stated that the proposed exceptions in these Articles cannot be overridden by contractual terms or technological protection measures.
  • The interaction of these various articles has not even been the subject of a single discussion. The filters of Article 13 will cover the snippets of Article 11 whilst the limitations of Article 3 will be amplified by the rights created through Article 11, yet none of these aspects have even been assessed.

The open letter signatories notably represent:

  • European and global organisations, as well as national organisations from 28 EU Member States;
  • over 40 human, privacy, civil rights and media freedom organisations;
  • publishers and creators;
  • 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.

List of Signatories



  1. Access Info Europe
  2. Allied for Startups
  3. Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER)
  4. Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)
  5. Copyright for Creativity (C4C)
  6. Create Refresh Campaign
  8. EDiMA
  9. European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA)
  10. European Digital Learning Network (DLEARN)
  11. European Digital Rights (EDRi)
  12. European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA)
  13. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES)
  14. European University Association (EUA)
  15. Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU
  16. Lifelong Learning Platform
  17. Public Libraries 2020 (PL2020)
  18. Science Europe
  19. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  20. SPARC Europe


  1. Freischreiber Österreich
  2. Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA Austria)


  1. Net Users’ Rights Protection Association (NURPA)


  1. BESCO – Bulgarian Startup Association
  2. BlueLink Foundation
  3. Bulgarian Association of Independent Artists and Animators (BAICAA)
  4. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
  5. Bulgarian Library and Information Association (BLIA)
  6. Creative Commons Bulgaria
  7. DIBLA
  8. Digital Republic
  9. Hamalogika
  10. Init Lab
  11. ISOC Bulgaria
  12. LawsBG
  14. Open Project Foundation
  15. PHOTO Forum
  16. Wikimedians of Bulgaria


  1. Code for Croatia


  1. Startup Cyprus

Czech Republic

  1. Alliance pro otevrene vzdelavani (Alliance for Open Education)
  2. Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic
  3. Czech Fintech Association
  4. Ecumenical Academy
  5. EDUin


  1. Danish Association of Independent Internet Media (Prauda)


  1. Wikimedia Eesti


  1. Creative Commons Finland
  2. Open Knowledge Finland
  3. Wikimedia Suomi


  1. Abilian
  2. Alliance Libre
  3. April
  4. Aquinetic
  5. Conseil National du Logiciel Libre (CNLL)
  6. France Digitale
  7. l’ASIC
  8. Ploss Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (PLOSS-RA)
  9. Renaissance Numérique
  10. Syntec Numérique
  11. Tech in France
  12. Wikimédia France


  1. Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Medieneinrichtungen an Hochschulen e.V. (AMH)
  2. Bundesverband Deutsche Startups
  3. Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V. (dbv)
  4. eco – Association of the Internet Industry
  5. Factory Berlin
  6. Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL)
  7. Jade Hochschule Wilhelmshaven/Oldenburg/Elsfleth
  8. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  9. Landesbibliothekszentrum Rheinland-Pfalz
  10. Silicon Allee
  11. Staatsbibliothek Bamberg
  12. Ubermetrics Technologies
  13. Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg)
  14. University Library of Kaiserslautern (Technische Universität Kaiserslautern)
  15. Verein Deutscher Bibliothekarinnen und Bibliothekare e.V. (VDB)
  16. ZB MED – Information Centre for Life Sciences


  1. Greek Free Open Source Software Society (GFOSS)


  1. Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
  2. ICT Association of Hungary – IVSZ
  3. K-Monitor


  1. Technology Ireland


  1. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
  2. Istituto Italiano per la Privacy e la Valorizzazione dei Dati
  3. Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD)
  4. National Online Printing Association (ANSO)


  1. LV (Latvian Startup Association)
  2. Wikimedians of Latvia User Group


  1. Aresi Labs


  1. Frënn vun der Ënn


  1. Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning


  1. Dutch Association of Public Libraries (VOB)
  2. Kennisland


  1. Centrum Cyfrowe
  2. Coalition for Open Education (KOED)
  3. Creative Commons Polska
  4. Elektroniczna BIBlioteka (EBIB Association)
  5. ePaństwo Foundation
  6. Fundacja Szkoła z Klasą (School with Class Foundation)
  7. Modern Poland Foundation
  8. Ośrodek Edukacji Informatycznej i Zastosowań Komputerów w Warszawie (OEIiZK)
  9. Panoptykon Foundation
  10. Startup Poland
  11. ZIPSEE


  1. Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D³)
  2. Associação Ensino Livre
  3. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)
  4. Associação para a Promoção e Desenvolvimento da Sociedade da Informação (APDSI)


  1. ActiveWatch
  2. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee)
  3. Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)
  4. Association of Producers and Dealers of IT&C equipment (APDETIC)
  5. Center for Public Innovation
  6. Digital Citizens Romania
  7. ro Initiative
  8. Mediawise Society
  9. National Association of Public Librarians and Libraries in Romania (ANBPR)


  1. Creative Commons Slovakia
  2. Slovak Alliance for Innovation Economy (SAPIE)


  1. Digitas Institute
  2. Forum za digitalno družbo (Digital Society Forum)


  1. Asociación de Internautas
  2. Asociación Española de Startups (Spanish Startup Association)
  3. MaadiX
  4. Sugus
  5. Xnet


  1. Wikimedia Sverige


  1. Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA)
  2. Open Rights Group (ORG)
  3. techUK


  1. ARTICLE 19
  2. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
  3. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)
  4. COMMUNIA Association
  5. Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA)
  6. Copy-Me
  7. Creative Commons
  8. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
  9. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)
  10. Index on Censorship
  11. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
  12. Media and Learning Association (MEDEA)
  13. Open Knowledge International (OKI)
  14. OpenMedia
  15. Software Heritage

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]