EU-kommissionens förslag till reformerad upphovsrätt förhandlas just nu intensivt i EU-parlamentet och mellan medlemsstaternas regeringar. För att illustrera möjligheterna och riskerna med förslaget har vi intervjuat Julia Reda, EU-parlamentariker från Tyskland.

Julia Reda är mycket engagerad i upphovsrättsfrågor och sitter i utskottet för rättsliga frågor, JURI, som under hösten behandlar förslaget till upphovsrättsdirektiv. Intervjun är genomförd på engelska.

Why is the copyright reform important?
– The EU copyright directive is over 15 years old. It was written before technologies like e-lending or text and data mining became common and before online publishing became accessible to everyone. The copyright framework needs an update to reflect these changed circumstances, so that it doesn’t prevent cultural institutions and researchers from doing their job and so that it doesn’t interfere with people’s everyday expression online. The legal framework also needs to be further harmonised across the EU to reflect the increased demand for cross-border access to copyrighted works.

How would libraries and library users be affected by the Commission’s proposals?
– It’s a watershed moment: The situation could get much better – or much worse. Copyright exceptions for teaching, preservation and text & data mining (TDM) are likely to become mandatory across Europe. However, each of them could end up so narrowly defined that libraries and their users would suffer:

  • The Commission wants to limit the TDM exception to ”research institutions”, making it unclear to what extent libraries can benefit from it.
  • The Commission would allow member states to override the education exception in many cases: Not just when extended collective licensing exists, but also whenever there is an individual license available on the market. This risks creating a high administrative overhead of actually using the exception. The proposal is also unclear as to whether libraries are included among the beneficiaries. If the exception is adopted as is, the teaching exception would only apply on the educational institution’s premises or over a closed network, which could be a step back compared to the status quo in some member states. It must be made clear that educational uses over the Internet are covered.
  • The Commission proposed to limit the preservation exception to works that are ”permanently in the collection” of a library, excluding those that are on long-term loan or publicly available on the net (web harvesting). The exception’s usefulness could also be limited if it’s not clarified that cultural heritage institutions can seek the help of partners to make preservation copies, because not all libraries have the resources to do this themselves.

Members of the Parliament have filed amendments suggesting a number of other improvements, which will be put to a vote:

  • Mandatory exceptions for e-lending and document delivery across borders
  • Removing the ”dedicated terminals” provision that makes it difficult for libraries to make available works on their premises today
  • Creating an exception for the making available of out-of-commerce works whenever there is no collecting society that can offer an extended collective license
  • Allowing the circumvention of technological protection measures whenever this is necessary to benefit from an exception, such as preservation

In addition, libraries may also find their online offerings affected by the most contentious points of the copyright proposal – an extra copyright for news sites and an obligation for internet platforms to filter all uploads.

What is happening in the European Parliament at the moment and what are the key issues?
– The crucial vote on the reform proposal in the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has been postponed multiple times after the rapporteur – the MEP responsible for shepherding the proposal through the Parliament – was replaced. It will now take place in late November or early December.

The most contentious points of the Commission’s plans are the introduction of an extra copyright for news sites, which would make linking to news content with a snippet (e.g. the headline, a short extract or a thumbnail image) require a license, and a new obligation for internet platforms to filter their users’ uploads for copyright infringement, creating ”censorship machines” and disincentivising the development of European platforms.

The debate on the new exceptions, which will most affect libraries, is receiving less public attention. While the new rapporteur MEP Axel Voss (EPP group/den konservativa partigruppen) seeks to rubber-stamp the Commission’s narrow definitions, others are calling for their broadening.

The Council, which represents the member state governments, is negotiating these issues in parallel. Several countries, including Finland, have raised doubts about the compatibility of upload filters with fundamental rights. The Swedish government, in contrast, does not appear to have taken a strong position so far.

What are your hopes for the final outcome?
– We must broaden the proposed exceptions as well as defeat the extra copyright for news sites and the upload filters. This will require that the open knowledge community take a more strategic approach and not just lobby on their own behalf, but on behalf of open knowledge in the broader sense: Libraries must advocate that the exceptions don’t just cover themselves, but offer opportunities for many people and institutions. They must also take a position on the most publicly debated points. A great example was recently provided by the open science community, who formed a broad coalition to express their concerns with the proposal (vilket Svensk biblioteksförening ställt sig bakom, reds. anm).