Copyright

Updates

EURACTIV reports that a Dramatic Parliament vote triggers upheaval of divisive copyright bill as the European Parliament overturned the Legal Affairs Committee's decision last month to approve the copyright bill. Natasha Lomas of TechCrunch said 'Crucially it means MEPs will have the chance to amend the controversial proposals'. The two most controversial articles generating strong debate are Article 11, the so-called 'snipped' provision, which could require companies like Google, Microsoft, and others to pay for use of snippets and links, and Article 13, which would force online platforms to employ filters to prevent the upload of copyrighted materials. 

EU Parliament rejects proposal of copyright reform with 318 votes against it. The most controversial provisions of this reform are Article 13 and 11 asking for some form of "filtering measures" for internet platforms and so called "snippet" tax.  Opponents of this proposal believe that this is best situation for both sides since after this step there will be open debate about future of copyright reform. Following this action the proposal need to be again drafted before new voting at September.

 

The Polish, Spanish, and Italian pages of Wikipedia closed down on Wednesday, 4th July, in protest of the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs' vote in favor of copyright articles 13 and 11. Article 13 requires online platforms to filter content for copyright violations, and Article 11, sometimes called a 'link tax' could allow publishers to charge a fee if the link to that content appears on their site. A statement from Academics Against Publishers' Right warns that the proposal 'would likely impede the free flow of information that is of vital importance to democracy'. Cory Doctorow of  the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote, The EU's Copyright Proposal is Extremely Bad News for Everyone, Even (Especially!) Wikipedia, in an analysis that warns 'While the directive fixes some longstanding problems with EU rules, it creates much, much larger ones: problems so big that they threaten to wreck the Internet itself'.​

On EU Blockathon held in Brussels that was aimed to address issues of piracy and counterfeit via blockchain based solutions, 28 companies and organization signed MOU on online advertising and intellectual property rights. This MOU is effort of EU commission in order to establish cooperation of right-holders with advertisers, advertising intermediaries and other actors in order to efficiently fight against violations of IPR. In that respect this cooperation should minimize placement of advertises in various websites and mobile apps that infringe IPR or disseminate such content/goods.

The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) adopted the proposed version for copyright reform, including highly disputed Article 13 as well as tax provisions in Article 11 of Copyright Directive. The biggest controversies about this reform were around the text of Article 13 that practically requires some form of filtering and monitoring measures from internet platforms. In spite of the strong criticism of this article from NGO and expert community, this text is going into the further legislative procedure. Even though it is still possible for things to change up to the final vote in EU Parlament, this would be very uncommon in this stage.

UN Rapporteur David Kaye voiced serious concerns about European Commission (EC) Article 13 of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive in a missive to the EC. He especially notes his fear that the directive 'would establish a regime of active monitoring and prior censorship of user-generated content that is inconsistent with Article 19(3) of the ICCPR', and mentions concerns regarding pre-publication censorship, concerns regarding ineffective remedial mechanisms, and concerns regarding the disproportionate burden on nonprofits and small content sharing providers. Kieren McCarthy also reports in The Register that Internet luminaries urge EU to kill off automated copyright filter proposalciting an open letter from the group of Internet pioneers to the EU 'urging it to scrap a proposal to introduce automated upload filters, arguing that it could damage the Internet as we know it'.

 

 

Knowledge and ideas are key resources in the global economy. The protection of knowledge and ideas, through Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), has become one of the predominant issues in the Internet governance debate. Internet-related IPR include copyright and trademarks. Copyright protects the expression of an idea when it is materialised in various forms, such as a book, CD, or computer file. The idea itself is not protected by copyright. In practice, it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction between the idea and its expression.

 

The copyright regime has closely followed the technological evolution. Every new invention, such as the printing press, radio, television, and the VCR, has affected both the form and the application of copyright rules. The Internet is no exception. The traditional concept of copyright has been challenged in numerous ways, from those as simple as ‘cutting and pasting’ texts from the Web to more complex activities, such as the massive distribution of music and video materials via the Internet.

The Internet also empowers copyright holders, by providing them with more powerful technical tools for protecting and monitoring the use of copyrighted material. These developments endanger the delicate balance between authors’ rights and the public’s interest, which is the very basis of the copyright law.

 

The issues

Amend existing or develop new copyright mechanisms?

How should copyright mechanisms be adjusted to reflect the profound changes effected by ICT and Internet developments? One answer suggested by the US government’s White Paper on Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure is that only minor changes are needed in existing regulation, mainly through ‘dematerialising’ the copyright concepts of ‘fixation’, ‘distribution’, ‘transmission’, and ‘publication’. This approach was followed in the main international copyright treaties, including the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) convention and the WIPO Copyright Treaty.

However, the opposite view argues that changes in the legal system must be profound, since copyright in the digital era no longer refers to the ‘right to prevent copying’ but also to the ‘right to prevent access’. Ultimately, with ever greater technical possibilities of restricting access to digital materials, one can question whether copyright protection is necessary at all. It remains to be seen how the public interest, the second part of the copyright equation, will be protected.

 

Protection of the public interest – the ‘fair use’ of copyright materials

Copyright was initially designed to encourage creativity and invention. This is why it combined two elements: the protection of authors’ rights and the protection of the public interest. The main challenge was to stipulate how the public can access copyrighted materials in order to enhance creativity, knowledge, and global well-being. Operationally speaking, the protection of the public interest is ensured through the concept of the ‘fair use’ of protected materials.

 

Copyright and development

Any restriction of fair use could weaken the position of developing countries. The Internet provides researchers, students, and others from developing countries with a powerful tool for participating in global academic and scientific exchanges. A restrictive copyright regime could have a negative impact on capacity building in developing countries. Another aspect is the increasing digitisation of cultural and artistic crafts from developing countries. Paradoxically, developing countries may end up having to pay for their cultural and artistic heritage when it is digitised, repackaged, and owned by foreign entertainment and media companies.

Events

Instruments

Conventions

Link to: Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest Convention) | Article 10 – Offences related to infringements of copyright and related rights (2001)

Judgements

Resolutions & Declarations

Standards

Other Instruments

Resources

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

Papers

Personal Data Storage in Russia (2015)
Comparative Analysis on National Approaches to the Liability of Internet Intermediaries for Infringement of Copyright and Related Rights (2014)
Competition in the Software Industry: the Interface between Antitrust and Intellectual Property Law (1999)

Reports

Enabling Growth and Innovation in the Digital Economy (2016)
2016 Special 301 Report (2016)
The Impact of Digital Content: Opportunities and Risks of Creating and Sharing Information Online (2016)
Content Removal Requests Report (2016)

GIP event reports

Your Freedom of Expression vs. Mine? Who Is in Control? (2018)
Copyright Reform in Europe – Expectations and Reality, Benefit or Harm? (2018)
The EU Copyright Reform’s Proposal – Which Impacts on Users’ Fundamental Rights (2017)

Other resources

The Twitter Rules (2016)

Processes

Click on the ( + ) sign to expand each day.

To keep the Internet engine running, innovation is key, especially when it comes to intellectual property. Unlocking Internet Economy through Copyright Reform (WS 167) addressed the consequences of copyright policies on Internet innovation, with the session organisers arguing that the current Internet innovation system, characterised by ‘multinational corporations, fledging start-ups, telecommunications providers, content creators and consumers [forming] increasingly complex value chains’, often contradicts the copyright regime.

 

 

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