The European Court of Justice (the ECJ, “the European Supreme Court”) ruled three years ago that anything published openly on the web may be freely reused by anyone in any way on their own website. This ruling didn’t get anywhere near the attention it deserved, as it completely reverses a common misconception – the idea that you can’t republish or reuse something you happen to come across. The ECJ says that an open publication on the web exhausts the exclusivity of a work as far as the web is concerned, and that further authorization or permission from the rightsholder is not required for any reuse on the web after that, commercial or not.
Since 2003, hundreds of new top-level domains have come onto the market, and there has never been more choice for domain name registrants. But apart from choosing a name that sounds right and is easy to remember, a domain name registrant should also consider the policies of the registry that operates the domain, and those of the registrar that sells it to them.
The EU is in the process of hammering out a new copyright directive. Here is a leaked amendment from the European Parliaments Committee on Culture and Education (CULT)…
1. Member States shall ensure that, when authors and performers transfer or assign the right of making available to the public of their works or other subject-matter for online on-demand services, they retain the right to obtain fair remuneration derived from the direct exploitation of their works present in the catalogue of those services.
2. The right of an author or performer to obtain fair remuneration for the making available of his/her work as described in paragraph 1 cannot be waived.
This is totally absurd.
We are many who publish text, pictures, video and music under various Creative Commons licenses. Meaning that we waive parts of our copyright – making our works available for everyone to share freely. (Some CC licenses do and some don’t allow free commercial use; some state that the creator should be attributed; et cetera.)
According to point two above, in some cases, licenses such as CC=BY, CC=NC, and CC=0 will not be legal.
To take one example, this blog is published under a CC=BY license. Anyone could quote or share the text, as long as it is attributed to the 5 of July Foundation (or me). And we do hope you do. Even for commercial use, non-public sites, in the media, or on-demand.
If the amendment above becomes EU law – this might no longer be possible or legal.
Furthermore, not being allowed to freely share one’s creative work on certain sites surely is an unacceptable limitation when it comes to the artist’s rights.
If there is something like intellectual property (which the EU claims) – this must be a grave violation of the artists property rights.
To hinder creators from freely distributing their works must also be a serious limitation of freedom of speech.
And it doesn’t have to be about Creative Commons. Some artists just want to share their work for marketing purposes or just to be nice to their fans. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to?
This ill-conceived idea must be stopped before it becomes EU law.
Under the CULT “compromise amendments”, it would no longer be possible to store legally acquired music recordings video files or any other copyrighted content on European cloud storage services. This is despite the fact that Europeans already pay hundreds of millions every year in levies (3,2 billion euro in the first half of this decade) to compensate rightsholders for making copies of legally obtained copyrighted works. Despite this, European cloud services would have to install filters to either block uploads or pay “fair” licenses for any copyrighted material that was uploaded. (Non-European services, on the contrary, would have nothing to worry about.)
For example, the “snippet tax” would require commercial sites that quote even tiny portions of online press publications to pay a licensing fee for each one. Given the way social networks constantly quote and cross-link information, that’s clearly absurd. And yet the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee of the European Parliament has come up with a cunning plan to make it even worse. It wants the snippet tax to apply to physical publications as well as digital ones. (…)
Just as the ITRE committee wants to make the snippet tax even worse, so the Culture and Education (CULT) committee of EU politicians has come up with a way to make the upload filter dramatically more ridiculous. If the CULT committee’s amendments are adopted in the final law, EU citizens will no longer be able to upload copies of copyright material to the cloud, even if they have acquired them legally.
Glyn Moody @ PNI: EU copyright reform goes from bad to worse »
On 11 July, two Committees in the European Parliament voted on their Opinions on European Commission’s proposal for a Copyright Directive: the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).
CULT decided to abandon all reason and propose measures that contradict existing law on monitoring of online content. They also contradict clear rulings from the highest court in the EU on internet filtering. And for the sake of being consistently bad, the Committee also supported ancillary copyright, a “link tax” that would make linking and quotation almost impossible on social media.
ITRE made a brave effort to fix the unfixable “censorship machine”, the upload filter proposed by the Commission. On the one hand, this demonstrates a willingness in the Parliament to resist the fundamentalism of the Commission’s proposal. On the other, it shows how impossible this task really is. Despite deleting the reference to “content recognition technologies”, ITRE has decided to keep the possibility of measures to prevent the availability of copyrighted works or “other subject matter” which may or may not be understood as supporting preventive filtering.
And there is more bad news in the linked text, below.
A long-running legal battle between Dutch ISPs and the local anti-piracy organization BREIN over blocking The Pirate Bay has concluded with a ruling in favor of BREIN. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said yesterday The Pirate Bay could be blocked because:
“Making available and managing an online platform for sharing copyright-protected works, such as ‘The Pirate Bay’, may constitute an infringement of copyright”
That summary, from the CJEU’s press release, doesn’t capture a key aspect of the case, which is that The Pirate Bay is not storing any copyright-protected works on its site, merely hosting links to torrents.
• What role the rights granted by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union plays: in particular, what is the relationship between copyright protection (Article 17(2)) and freedom of the arts (Article 13)?
• (C)can copyright protection be trumped by the need to safeguard freedom of the press and freedom of information? Or can fundamental rights be even directly invoked to prevent enforcement of copyright?
These two – rather fundamental – questions have been sent to the European Court of Justice from Germanys supreme court, undesgerichtshof (BGH).
Today the European Parliaments committee for the internal market (IMCO) has voted on the new EU copyright package.
The »censorship machine« (demanding that net platforms and ISP:s should filter all user uploaded content) fell. This is a victory for a free and open Internet.
(But still, the proposal is not quite dead. It can be re-tabled for the main vote in plenary.)
However, the »link tax« (license fees for linking to mainstream media content) still stands.
This terrible idea must be stopped in plenary!
It ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings.
Update » A more detailed report » IMCO Vote on Copyright in the DSM: crying tears of…? »
Update 2 » Pirate MEP Julia Reda » 5 takeaways from the first important copyright reform vote in the European Parliament »