Statement on the Introduction of the EU Media Freedom Act

Creative Commons

Headshot of Catherine Stihler, wearing a blue shawl standing in outside.
“Catherine Stihler” by Martin Shields is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Creative Commons CEO Catherine Stihler welcomed the EU’s publication today of its Media Freedom Act.

Catherine said: “An independent, plural media is central to a healthy, functioning democratic system which in turn is the bedrock for citizens’ trust and confidence in politics and values. Creative Commons applauds the EU in its efforts to protect journalists from intimidation and to safeguard the independence of the editorial processes.

“As we explored in our Open Journalism series this year, nonprofit and public service media have a critical role to play in ensuring better sharing of information in the public interest, and we are grateful that the proposal focuses on the importance of a strong, independent public service media sector.

“In an ever more digitalized world, the protection of online content is vitally important. We welcome and support efforts to counter mis- and dis-information and will look in detail at the legal text in order to ensure that the provisions included on this are fit for purpose and do not, unintentionally, inhibit or restrict creativity and better sharing in the public interest.

“With that in mind, we do have concerns about provisions that could create loopholes for purveyors of harmful misinformation and undermine media pluralism. Under Article 17, large online platforms would be expected to give special, advance notice and consideration to media providers when it comes to removal or restriction of their content. Many groups (including Creative Commons) raised concerns about these same concepts when they were proposed and rejected as part of the debates over the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, in particular because they could require platforms to carry and give prominence to harmful content simply because an entity claims to be a media provider. Moreover, because large publishers are most likely to have the resources to engage with companies and regulators on enforcement of these tools, this provision may tilt the competitive playing field in their favor, cutting against the pluralistic goals of the Act to support publishers of every size. The Digital Services Act already provides opportunities for anyone to seek redress from a platform, and it is premature to reconsider the balance struck there.

“We will look in more detail at the legal texts and look forward to constructively contributing to the process as the EU develops this important framework. With war on the European continent, it is now more than ever obvious that urgent action needs to be taken to defend our values — media freedom is an essential part of that.

“In fact, around the globe, media freedom is in great peril. In March 2022, UNESCO published an alarming report titled World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development, which shows that 85% of the world population experienced a decline in press freedom in their country over the past five years. Guided by our organizational value of global inclusivity, Creative Commons will continue to uphold universal freedoms and the free flow of ideas for a free and democratic world.”