Johan de Witt 's nachts op straat aangevallen

Fighting (for) copyright at Mozfest

The last weekend of October in London, Mozilla organised Mozfest, its annual festival for the open internet movement. Mozilla wants to enable communities to contribute to making the internet a healthy place. The festival serves as a platform where civil society organisations, artists, journalists, copyright experts and other creators can come together to share and discuss the issues close to their hearts.

At Mozfest, COMMUNIA organised two session on copyright issues. We wanted to explain the role it plays online, but also to reimagine copyright that could support, and not hinder, new forms of creativity.

The Copyright Battle

During our first session, called ‘The Copyright Battle’, we wanted to share some insights we gained after our research on ‘Teachers and Modern Educational Practices’. For this research we interviewed K-12 educators across the European Union that used innovative online or technological means when providing educations. Based on the interviews, we identified four personas that we presented at Mozfest. The Creator, someone who creates and shares her own resources with a good knowledge of copyright, the Rebel, an educator who believes that educational goals are more important than the protection of copyright, the Guardian, one who insists that copyright law is respected by students and other teachers, and the Unsuspecting user, one who uses different resources without understanding their copyright status.

Participants of the session could do a simple quiz in which they could find out which persona matches their attitude on copyright (you can take this quiz yourself, online). At Mozfest, most of the respondents were creators. This led to a discussion on the role copyright plays in all of our lives. Many thought that the proposed Directive for a Digital Single Market has the potential to negatively impact their lives. Additionally, they thought that the current copyright framework was too difficult to understand. As one of the participants said during our session: “it would be better if the rules would be aligned with common sense, so that following the rules becomes logical.” We ended with a tug-of-war where the creators competed against the guardians. The creators won. Hopefully this is a good prognosis for the future of copyright.

Strength in numbers

In a later session that COMMUNIA led together with Wikimedia, we discussed “the Big Open” – a vision of closer cooperation of open movements towards our shared goals. This is an important theme for us, as at COMMUNIA we try to make aware other activist communities about the importance of copyright reform (see for example our project on copyright and education). And we see ourselves as an organization implementing the “Big Open” model, by bringing together in our association different organizations that can work together on copyright reform.

Mozfest was a wonderful platform where we met other advocates for a better copyright. It also allowed us to place our copyright reform struggles in a broader context of other activist challenges and policy battles. Additionally it was a great place to meet so many of the people, creators, IT specialists for whom we advocate. We are inspired to continue the Mozfest momentum and we will definitely keep fighting for a healthy internet.

A satire on the art business in which art experts and dealers who assess paintings are depicted as donkeys. After the drawing by Trémolières in the Hessisches Landes Museum in Darmstadt (cropped).
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