“Copyright divide in numbers”, the graph on the first page of the newly launched ‘The Copyright Manifesto. How the European Union should Support Innovation and Creativity through Copyright Reform’ tells a story. In an illustration of the results of the European Union’s (EU) 2014 consultation on copyright, publishers, authors and collective management organizations express strong support for the current system, while end users and institutional users (such as libraries) are strongly in favour of copyright reform. So if copyright is supposed to benefit everyone, the copyright system sure isn’t working for everyone.
Launched on 19 January 2015 by Copyright for Creativity (C4C) - a broad coalition of digital rights groups, libraries (including EIFL), research and educational institutions, and technology companies - the Manifesto calls on the EU to modernize copyright rules, create a digital single market across EU borders, reduce the term of copyright protection, and to ensure that implementation and enforcement measures are fair, proportionate and transparent.
EU copyright rules are important. They affect libraries not only in EIFL’s EU partner countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia). They also affect library services in EU candidate and potential candidate countries (Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo), as well as dozens of developing world nations that are impacted by EU law and policy through trade and economic partnership agreements. So the EU influence on copyright laws around the world is strong: a point highlighted recently in the WIPO studies on copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives.
This is why the EU should be a global leader when it comes to copyright reform. But right now, it’s lagging behind (even opposing international discussion on copyright reform). And the EU copyright directive, first proposed by the European Commission in 1998 looks increasingly last century. Take for example the provision that permits libraries to display certain digitized works only on the library premises. While it was arguably progressive at the time, today it seems a bit, well, silly. (Try explaining to a student why they are not allowed to use their mobile device to access a work needed for their studies).
At the same time, libraries, archives and cultural heritage institutions are limited in their public mission to provide access to and preserve knowledge and culture, as copyright rules or licensing conditions prohibit them from embracing technological evolution.
Copyright for Creativity Copyright Manifesto