Time is running out: Tell the European Parliament now to #FixCopyright in the EU

Image by Thijs ter Haar (CC-BY 2.0)

Eileen Hershenov, General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation

This Wednesday, 12 September, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) will vote to define how we will communicate, collaborate, and access information on the internet. The Wikimedia Foundation asks everyone to #fixcopyright for the digital age.

This week’s vote is one of the final steps for EU copyright reform, which was initiated two years ago by the European Commission’s proposal. As the hours count down to this crucial moment we need all Europeans who care about access to knowledge to visit fixcopyright.wikimedia.org and call, email, or tweet your MEP, telling them to support a modern copyright for the digital age. The Wikimedia movement has worked hard to bring copyright into the present and make it suitable for the digital age. Wikipedians have been advocating for copyright norms that empower all of us to contribute to the sum of all knowledge, to share, and to participate in culture. We now need your support!

By comparing the Commission’s suggested framework with some of the amendments that are on the table now, we can see that there is growing public support for safeguards for the public domain and freedom of panorama. Some of the new amendments recognize the need for a modern copyright framework and provide fixes for the shortcomings of the original, unbalanced proposal. Last week, MEPs tabled those positive amendments that would enable everyone to participate in knowledge and let copyright catch up with reality. We need to support them, and see that they win a majority of votes on September 12.

Including positive copyright amendments for the 12 of September vote is only a first step. We need to make as many of our voices heard as possible in favor of those amendments as MEPs will also be voting on some very concerning items. For instance, some of the proposed amendments for Article 13 of the new copyright directive would still force internet platforms to deploy pre-filtering systems to prevent user uploads that may violate copyright. This is the case even if the language of the amendments no longer explicitly mentions “technological measures” (i.e., upload filters). Flawed efforts to shift liability for copyright-infringing uploads onto platforms are harmful for freedom of expression online and our vision of an interconnected knowledge society. The platforms would over-filter content that should be accessible to the public, like content which is published under a copyright exception.

Wikipedians believe in an internet that is based on the values of transparency, collaboration, and openness. We make it easy for everyone to find, share, and collect information online without undue interference on projects like Wikipedia, which depend upon our users being able to access content across the internet. This is how Wikipedia has flourished and grown for the past 17 years, since it was founded in 2001. Forcing platforms to pre-filter everything that is uploaded poses a significant threat to Wikipedia’s values and knowledge creation online.

We are less than two days away from a crucial vote for all of our online communications. We have come a long way and have made much progress in making copyright suitable for the digital age. But we need a final push to make sure the internet stays open and everybody can meaningfully participate in culture.

The Wikimedia Foundation urges MEPs to vote “yes” on the following amendments:

  • Amendments to Art. 13 (pre-filtering) and corresponding recitals: AM 125, AM 92–105, AM 231–239, and AM249–252
  • Safeguards for the public domain: AM 190
  • An exception for Freedom of Panorama: AM 243
  • An exception for user-generated content: AM 244, AM 210, and AM 189
  • A broad exception for text and data mining: AM 240–242
  • Amendments to Art. 11 (publishers right) and corresponding recitals: AM 227–230 and AM 245–248

Please join us in calling on the European Parliament to #fixcopyright!

Take action here.