The daily impact of Copyright

Last weekend Communia participated in Mozfest 2018 with a drop-in session on how copyright affects our daily lives. While the ongoing EU copyright reform will shape internet and users rights for ages, not all users are well aware of how this will impact them and the way they use the internet. In our session ‘Human faces of copyright’ we organised a number of activities to show how the reform will influence our daily internet experiences, the way we share and create.

The Mozfest community includes people with a wide variety of expertise and backgrounds. Not everybody might know the ins and outs of copyright (reform), but once you start talking about the challenges of copyright, most can quickly relate it to their own work and experiences.

Copyright Reform

The discussion on the role of copyright in our day to day life was kicked of on our way to Ravensbourne College where Mozfest was held. We’ve met a Mozillian who was also trying to make his way to the venue which was not that easy due to a problem with the tube. He was working on protecting freedom of expression. He had heard about a new provision proposed in the European Union that could impact this on a large scale. He was talking about the by now infamous article 13 that proposes upload filters to be installed on online platforms and how it would indeed limit the way users can freely express themselves. Parodies in the form of youtube videos would not be recognized by these upload filters, so his concerns were very valid. Although article 13 has received the majority of the attention in the news coverage on the copyright reform, other topics raised in the Directive were as interesting to participants depending on their background.

The new exceptions proposed in the Directive allow, among others, educators to digital use copyright protected content and research organisations to conduct text and data mining. When explaining these exceptions, a teacher working in a university based in London wondered, after learning about it, how that relates to her work. She was surprised that an education exception already existed in her country, because she experiences many restrictions when sharing articles in class. Many other Mozillians were really concerned about the future of Wikipedia and other knowledge-sharing projects, taking into account the new press publishers right.

What we need to create a healthy internet

Apart from the provisions in the Directive on copyright in the digital single market itself, we talked about what we think should have been proposed in the Directive. The Directive still does not include a freedom of panorama provisions nor a user-generated content exception. A street photographer expressed his surprise over the fact that one can not take pictures of public buildings in all EU countries. Freedom of panorama, the right that permits using photographs and video footage depicting buildings, sculptures and other art works which are permanently located in a public place, is not implemented in all European Member States. He understood that people could deny having their picture taken, which he tried to take into account as much as possible, but the idea that buildings cannot be photographed in some countries by default seemed very odd to him.

Mozfest is the perfect place to discuss the internet health. All elements of the internet, from ethical AI to data privacy, are discussed on the 7 floors, each of them devoted to one topic. Although it might not always be explicit how copyright fits in this picture, when discussing the topic, it becomes crystal clear that copyright affects us all and balanced copyright is vital for a healthy internet. We have all become creators and at the same time we all make use of the exceptions or limitations. The ongoing copyright reform that tries (but seems to be doomed to fail in this regard) to make copyright more suitable for the 21st century is something that concerns all of us, especially advocates for a healthy internet. Mozfest is one of the best places to talk about the internet and connecting it to real people and everyday challenges.

Cropped etching of Minerva with a helmet, featuring event title and information.
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