Reda Report: Watch out for last minute amendments!

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Paris, 8 July 2015 — On Thursday 9 July, the European Parliament will vote on its own-initiative report on copyright reform, proposed by MEP Julia Reda. The report has been widely picked apart due to pressure from industry lobbies and right-holders, but is set to go forward without any major change. La Quadrature du Net calls on MEPs to be on their guard concerning certain points that could be raised during the vote, especially the right to hyperlink, the right of panorama, or public domain.

This report, presented by MEP Julia Reda in January 2015, included a list of priorities that would allow for a constructive evolution of the relationship between the cultural industry, right-holders, and citizens. Especially, it encouraged a “top-down” harmonization, as well as expanding the list of exceptions to copyright for the benefit of citizens and their access to culture and knowledge. At the same time, it would protect some important rights in particular, such as the right to include a hyperlink, while also generally asserting positive rights for European citizens, suited to the digital modernisation.

“Puhane Eiffelturm Nacht-censored”
by Maximillian Puhane + SPQRobin –
File:Puhane Eiffelturm Nacht.jpg + Own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

While the report included positive points of progress, it has been subject to a fierce smear campaign and bombarded with amendments backed by the cultural industry and right-holders, tabled by MEP Jean-Marie Cavada in particular. The Reda Report has been thrown around during its vote at the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) on June 16 to such an extent that it is impossible for an organisation of citizens’ Rights and Freedoms to endorse it wholeheartedly at this point.

There are not many new amendments tabled for the plenary vote on July 9, but in particular, three proposed amendments will be decisive in steering the position of the European Parliament, only some months before the European Commission is set to publish its official proposal for a new directive:

  • A last-minute attack is being carried out by MEP Angelika Niebler against the right to hyperlink, a fundamental element to the development of the Web. Said amendment encourages the Commission to work towards acknowledging the importance of journalism and media. Furthermore, this amendment had already been tabled during the Committee vote again by Ms Niebler, who is determined to tax links made to press websites, thus threatening with a quiet step backward on the fundamental right to link internet contents between each other. This amendment must be rejected in order to keep the door closed on a tax on linking to press websites.
  • Secondly, in order to defend the freedom of panorama, a significant number of citizens that value the dissemination of knowledge have rallied together to back an amendment tabled by Marietje Schaake, which would allow for backtracking on the amendment proposed by Jean-Marie Cavada in the Committee vote. MEPs must support this amendment.
  • Finally, MEP Matteo Salvini has tabled an amendment that removes any reference to harmonization of copyright duration between European national legislations. Walking away from copyright duration harmonization across Europe is a retrograde step. Clear Europe-wide legislation on copyright would be beneficial for both users, and for creators who use the public domain for inspiration.

“The real objective of the Reda Report is to give the European Commission an idea of the direction towards which MEPs wish to steer the next copyright reform. The actual challenge will be the future directive. Nonetheless, the recent amendments show that the European Parliament is able to take a solid stand for the benefit of users and creativity in a digital support, which calls for securing positive citizen rights. La Quadrature du Net calls on MEPs to reject the amendments tabled by A. Niebler and M. Salvini, and to adopt the one proposed by M. Schaake, in other not to exacerbate an already dissected Reda Report”, declared Lionel Manuel, member of the Strategic Orientation Council of La Quadrature du Net.