Through the Communia Association, Creative Commons and several CC Europe affiliates have responded to the copyright reform consultations of the European Commission. Currently, the Commission is asking for feedback on the “role of publishers in the copyright value chain” and on “freedom of panorama”. The window for providing responses ends on June 15. Communia has already submitted its detailed response. We think the Commission should stop the harmful link tax and support commonsense sharing of publicly viewable cultural works.
It’s important that the Commission hears from you! Be sure to submit your responses to the survey by 15 June. There is a guide to assist you in answering the questions at http://youcan.fixcopyright.eu/.
Ancillary copyright = Link tax
The Commission is considering introducing a new right which would permit content publishers to extract fees from search engines for incorporating short snippets of—or even linking to—news articles. This is why the measure is called a “link tax.”
Adopting new rights for publishers above and beyond the extensive rights they already enjoy under copyright law would be dangerous and counterproductive. Spain and Germany have already experimented with similar versions of the link tax, and neither resulted in increased revenues for publishers. Instead, it likely decreased the visibility (and by extension, revenues) of their content—exactly the opposite of what was intended.
Not only is a link tax bad for business, it would undermine the intention of authors who wish to share without additional strings attached, such as creators who want to share works under Creative Commons licenses.
Adopting a new neighboring right for publishers would harm journalists who rely on information-gathering and reporting tools like news aggregators, services like Google Alerts, and social media. It would have significant negative consequences for researchers and educational institutions by adding an unnecessary layer of rights that will make it more difficult for educators and researchers to understand how they can use content as part of their education and research activities.
Finally, the adoption of a link tax would create additional barriers for users and online information-seekers. Many users that rely on curated news aggregators like Google News, or even RSS readers or other apps that reproduce snippets of content from news articles. If an additional right for publishers is established, users would find that these existing news products and services will likely be disrupted, their prices increased, or even discontinued altogether (as we’ve seen in Spain with Google News). Popular social networking apps and websites used by hundreds of millions of people could be negatively affected too.
Freedom of Panorama: Commonsense rules for sharing culture
Freedom of panorama refers to the legal right to take and share photos, video, and images of architecture, sculptures and other works which are located in a public place. The sharing of photos taken in public places is an example of an everyday activity that should not be regulated by copyright. We know that the lack of harmonization around the freedom of panorama has negatively affected users who wish to share images of public architecture and sculpture on sites like Wikipedia. We support the adoption of a broad right for freedom of panorama, and it should apply to both commercial and noncommercial uses of images of architecture, sculpture, and other objects in public spaces. The exception should be mandatory across the EU, and should cover both online and offline uses.
Make your voice heard!
Time is running out to tell the Commission to do the right thing: No additional rights for publishers; protect and expand freedom of panorama. Be sure to check out http://youcan.fixcopyright.eu/ and submit your responses by June 15.