The EU Commission's Outrageous Attempt to Avoid Copyright Reform

Brussels, 4 February 2013 — Today starts “Licences for Europe”, an initiative by the European Commission to discuss the issues of today's copyright regime. Instead of planning for a broad reform that would break away with full-on repression of cultural practices based on sharing and remixing, the Commission is setting up a parody of a debate. 75% of the participants to the working-group concerning “users” are affiliated with the industry1 and the themes and objectives are defined so as to ensure that the industry has its way and that nothing will change. Through this initiative, the EU Commission shows its contempt of the many citizens who participated in defeating ACTA and are still mobilized against repressive policies.

La Quadrature du Net is registered to participate in a working-group of the new “Licences for Europe” initiative called “User-Generated Content”. Everything in its name, theme and mission2 is biased to fit the views of the entertainment industry – which represents more than 3/4 of the participants! – The working group is meant to focus on “User-Generated Content”, as if works created by Internet users were a different category from “real” cultural works; as if today, everyone was not on an equal footing to participate in culture3. The Commission's framing of discussion is subservient to major industrial actors who keep attacking their users' cultural practices and ignore the urgent need to reform copyright.

The rest of this initiative is similarly biased. The working group is supposed to work only on licensing – contracts by the industry in which it controls everything – rather than discuss new exceptions to copyright, which would represent the general interest by allowing not-for-profit sharing and remixing of digital works.

La Quadrature du Net strongly denounces this process, which aims at best to save time to avoid discussing the urgent need to reform copyright, and at worst to serve once again the interests of the entertainment industry.

“It is a shame that the European Commission, led by French Commissioner Michel Barnier, is playing the industry's game instead of fostering the general interest and listening to the millions of citizens who opposed ACTA as well as the European Parliament which massively rejected it. More than ever, EU citizens must engage with their representatives and urge them to courageously call for reforming a copyright regime gone mad, which has come to threaten our society's fundamental values, users' freedoms and the very structure of a free Internet. No citizen should agree to the terms and conditions of these 'Licences for Europe'” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. See our wiki: http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Licences_for_Europe_-_participants_en
  • 2. Original description of the working group:
    "(ii) User-generated content and licensing for small-scale users of protected material
    This work strand should:
    • Identify the extent to which protected material reused in user-generated content is covered by licences issued to relevant platforms.
    • Identify how to ensure that end-users are informed about what is legal and illicit use on the internet.
    • Deliver solutions to ensure that end users benefit from easier legitimate reuse of protected material, and greater clarity on what are the legitimate and non-legitimate uses of protected material
    • Identify the range and extent of "one-click" licensing initiatives in the EU.
    • Deliver solutions, including the possibility to extend the development and interconnection of these initiatives.
    • Explore the appropriateness of licensing or appropriate terms – e.g. the possibility of free licences"

  • 3. As enshrined by article 27(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits"
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