Copyright Reform

European Parliament rapporteur proposes mandatory copyleft license

A draft opin­ion by the In­ter­nal Mar­ket and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Com­mit­tee rap­por­teur on the Com­mis­sion’s new copy­right pro­posal pre­sents sig­nif­i­cant amend­ments. The draft in­di­cates that Par­lia­ment may make a dra­matic de­par­ture from the orig­i­nal pro­posal.

– Ms. Cather­ine Stih­ler, a mem­ber of the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment and rap­por­teur for the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion’s new copy­right pro­posal in the Com­mit­tee on the In­ter­nal Mar­ket and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion, on Thurs­day pub­lished her draft opin­ion on the pro­posal.

Most no­table, but per­haps un­sur­pris­ing given its con­tro­versy in par­lia­men­tary dis­cus­sions, is the com­plete re­moval of the pro­posed press pub­lish­ers’ right. In jus­ti­fy­ing her po­si­tion, Ms. Stih­ler states plainly in the re­port that “the in­tro­duc­tion of a press pub­lish­ers right is un­nec­es­sary as pub­lish­ers are al­ready pro­tected by copy­right law - based on trans­fers or li­censes of the au­thor’s rights from the re­spec­tive au­thors (jour­nal­ists)”, adding that un­der to­day’s leg­is­la­tion “pub­lish­ers have the full right to opt-out of the ecosys­tem any time us­ing sim­ple tech­ni­cal means”. The draft re­port is thus an­other strong in­di­ca­tion that the pro­posed press pub­lish­ers’ right is un­likely to pass par­lia­men­tary scrutiny in­tact.

A sur­pris­ing and con­tro­ver­sial ad­di­tion how­ever, is the newly in­tro­duced ar­ti­cle 13a which pro­poses to al­low “nat­ural per­sons” to reuse copy­right pro­tected works for non-com­mer­cial pur­poses pro­vided that the source is in­di­cated and there is “a cer­tain level of cre­ativ­ity in the new work which sub­stan­tially dif­fer­en­ti­ates it from the orig­i­nal work.” This would be a rad­i­cal shift from the cur­rent copy­right frame­work and would in­tro­duce some­thing akin to an oblig­a­tory Cre­ative Com­mons li­cense. Cre­ative Com­mons li­censes are a form of “copy­left” li­censes that al­lows cre­ators to make their work avail­able with less re­stric­tive con­di­tions that ex­plic­itly per­mit fu­ture reuse.

Other no­table changes in­clude re­mov­ing the lim­i­ta­tion to “re­search or­gan­i­sa­tions” from the ex­cep­tion to per­mit use of copy­righted ma­te­r­ial in the con­text of text and data min­ing, as well as adding a new ex­cep­tion on pub­lic lend­ing in a dig­i­tal con­text “to al­low the lend­ing of lit­er­ary works in any for­mat to the pub­lic, where such works have been le­git­i­mately ac­quired”.

The draft also pro­poses to ex­pand the ex­cep­tion for ed­u­ca­tional use to in­clude li­braries and other in­sti­tu­tions that pro­vide “non-for­mal or in­for­mal ed­u­ca­tion”. And no­tably to ex­plic­itly in­clude “pub­lic ser­vice broad­caster[s]” in the de­f­i­n­i­tion of cul­tural her­itage in­sti­tu­tions, thereby al­low­ing pub­lic broad­cast­ers “to dis­trib­ute, com­mu­ni­cate to the pub­lic or make avail­able out-of-com­merce works or other sub­ject-mat­ter per­ma­nently in the col­lec­tion of the in­sti­tu­tion for non-com­mer­cial pur­poses” along with var­i­ous other ex­emp­tions.

While the draft opin­ion is un­likely to be adopted in full in its cur­rent form, it sig­nals a sig­nif­i­cant de­par­ture from the Com­mis­sion’s orig­i­nal pro­posal and high­lights that the in­sti­tu­tions may still have a long way to go be­fore rec­on­cil­ing their dif­fer­ences.

European Commission’s proposed new right for press publishers is mired in controversy

The new press pub­lish­ers right in the Com­mis­sion’s pro­posed copy­right di­rec­tive is a rad­i­cal mea­sure aimed at sup­port­ing a news in­dus­try in peril. The pro­posal may how­ever have se­vere un­in­tended con­se­quences.

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