New Joint Letter: Asking for a better copyright for education

Yesterday, together with our co-signatories Education International and ETUCE, we shared a letter highlighting concerns about the proposed exception for education with the members of the European Parliament.

You can read the full letter here.

We shared suggestions on three main issues that we want to change in the Commission-text on the education exception, which will be the basis of the vote on 12 September:

#1: Support a broad definition of educational establishments

Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposal does not include all organisations where educational activities take place, as only formal educational establishments are covered by the exception. We note that the European lifelong-learning model underlines the value of informal and non-formal education including continuous professional development conducted in the workplace. This takes place in collaboration with, among others, cultural heritage institutions and NGOs. All these are excluded from the education exception.

We therefore ask members of the European Parliament to support amendments that clarify that all organisations where educational activities, both formal and non-formal, take place are covered by the education exception.

#2: Support a flexible definition of the location of use

In today’s Europe, educational activities are legitimately provided in many locations and through various means of communication. The European Commission propose to limit digital uses to secure institutional networks and to the premises of an educational establishment. As a consequence, educators will not develop and conduct educational activities in other facilities such as libraries and museums, and they will not be able to use modern means of communication, such as emails and the cloud.

We therefore ask members of the European Parliament to support amendments that clarify that the exception applies wherever education is provided under the care of an educational establishment, and furthermore clarify that the definition of electronic environments is broad enough to include email, the cloud and school websites.

#3: Support the exception over a license priority

Educators should not need to be lawyers to understand what they can and cannot do. We believe in transparency. Unfortunately, the European Commission does not follow these principles when proposing that licenses can overrule the educational exception. As a consequence, educators will depend on conditions proposed by license holders. This will lead to additional costs in the majority of European countries, where the exception is non-remunerated, and to a fragmented legal copyright framework.We do not support such a mechanism and advocate for a strong education exception that cannot be replaced by licenses.

However, to accommodate the models already in place in the Nordic countries, we ask members of the European Parliament to support amendments that clarify that the license priority can only apply to the extent that equivalent collective licensing agreements authorising the acts described in the exception are included, and the licenses are tailored to the needs and specificities of educational establishments are mutually agreed by the licensor and the licensee.

It is essential that social partners in education, education trade unions and employers in education, are consulted on these issues. Yet, we would also emphasise that this is not just a concern to educational stakeholders, but to all citizens and society at large. Access to quality education is a prerequisite for the development of prosperous societies, and part of European culture.

We look to the vote on September 12th as an opportunity to make the education exception right for the 21st century. If you would like to know more on what you can do to support a good copyright for education, we invite you to have a look at our Copyright for Education site and/or get in contact with COMMUNIA directly:

Etching of a printer's press by Abraham Bosse.
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