Letter to the EU Council: Stand for citizen’s rights and the European digital economy in the copyright negotiations
Author : Various
Focus Area : Any Other
Publication Type: Gender, Housing, Human Rights, Information & Communication Technology (ICT), Internet governance, Governance , Security
Publication Date: November, 2018


Your Excellency Deputy Ambassador, We, the undersigned, are writing to you ahead of the 23 November COREPER 1 meeting, at which copyright in the Digital Single Market will be discussed by the Austrian Council Presidency. We consider that it is too early at this stage to give a renewed mandate to the Austrian Presidency. Representing human, privacy, civil rights and media freedom organisations, software developers, creators, journalists, radio stations, higher education institutions and research institutions, we would like to draw your attention to our ongoing concerns regarding the proposal. We believe that both the Council and the Parliament texts risk creating severe impediments to the functioning of the Internet and the freedom of expression of all. In previous open letters of April 26 (here) and July 2 (here), we urged European policymakers to deliver a reform that upholds fundamental rights of all to freedom of expression as well as core principles such as limitation of internet intermediaries’ liability (which is essential to ensure the balance of rights repeatedly required by CJEU rulings) and access to knowledge. In the current negotiations, these values are severely threatened, most importantly due to: Art. 13 (upload filters): Changing or reinterpreting the liability regime for platforms and making them directly liable is a threat to fundamental rights as +70 Internet luminaries, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, NGOs, programmers, and academics have stated repeatedly. The resultant upload filters (“content recognition technologies”) would push internet intermediaries to rely on technologies that are error prone, intrusive and legally questionable. Relying on very imperfect algorithms to regulate free speech online will put the diversity of opinions and creative content at risk. The legal uncertainty created for European companies will mean that they will never know how much filtering will be enough to be considered to be “enough” for 27 national transpositions of the Directive. The only option will be blocking of legal content. Art. 11 (press publishers’ right): As analysed by a plethora of academics (see here and here, for example), a press publishers’ right is not needed and will have only harmful outcomes. Furthermore, as a result of this proposal, user-shared links on social media, news aggregation websites and search engines will no longer show extracts or will become unavailable, posing limits to the freedom of citizens to seek and impart information. Media plurality will suffer as new or innovative news sources will no longer be treated equally in the display of results on the internet. Additionally, user-created content on platforms will no longer be able to include extracts of licensed works, as quotation rules among European countries are not harmonised. For the ongoing trilogue negotiations, we urge you to reject obligatory or “voluntary” coerced filters and to keep the current liability regime intact. Enforcement of copyright must not become a pre-emptive, arbitrary and privately-enforced censorship of legal content. Moreover, we ask you to hear the voice of academic research that a press publishers’ right will not have the intended effect and will instead lead to a less informed European society. For all of the above reasons, we call on you to take a firm stance for citizen’s rights and the European digital economy in the ongoing trilogue negotiations. We call on you to stand up for a copyright that respects the foundations of a free, innovative and open digital society that delivers a vibrant, open marketplace for artists and their works. Best regards, EUROPE 1. Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) 2. European Digital Learning Network (DLEARN) 3. European Digital Rights (EDRi) 4. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES) 5. Knowledge Ecology International Europe (KEI Europe) 6. Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU AUSTRIA 7. epicenter.works – for digital rights 8. Freischreiber – Verein zur Förderung des freien Journalismus BELGIUM 9. KlasCement.net BULGARIA 10. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee CROATIA 11. Digital DemoCroatia CZECH REPUBLIC 12. EDUin DENMARK 13. IT-Political Association of Denmark ESTONIA 14. Estonian Human Rights Centre FRANCE 15. Wikimédia France GERMANY 16. Chaos Computer Club 17. Digitale Gesellschaft e.V. 18. Freischreiber 19. Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL) 20. Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. 21. Wikimedia Deutschland GREECE 22. Open Technologies Alliance – GFOSS (Greek Free Open Source Software Society) ITALY 23. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights LUXEMBOURG 24. Frënn vun der Ënn NETHERLANDS 25. Bits of Freedom (BoF) 26. Kennisland NORWAY 27. Elektronisk Forpost Norge POLAND 28. Centrum Cyfrowe 29. ePa ? stwo Foundation PORTUGAL 30. Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D³) 31. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL) ROMANIA 32. ActiveWatch 33. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee) 34. Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI) 35. Centrul pentru Inovare Public ? (Center for Public Innovation) 36. Digital Citizens Romania SLOVENIA 37. Digitas Institute 38. Forum za digitalno družbo (Digital Society Forum) 39. Intellectual Property Institute SPAIN 40. Asociación de Internautas 41. Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI) 42. Rights International Spain 43. Xnet SWEDEN 44. Wikimedia Sverige UNITED KINGDOM 45. Open Rights Group (ORG) 46. Statewatch GLOBAL 47. Association for Progressive Communications (APC) 48. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) 49. COMMUNIA Association 50. Creative Commons 51. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 52. Open Knowledge International 53. OpenMedia 54. Wikimedia