Hello everyone,

TL;DR. We are writing to you today to share some updates about Wikimedia’s
involvement in the European Union’s current Copyright Reform. After the
European Parliament voted to reject a specific proposal in July, the
Parliament will vote on a final version of the proposal on September 12.
Many Wikimedia chapters, user groups, and community organized around the
last vote so we have provided resources this time around to help with
messaging, including a website (fixcopyright.wikimedia.org) where people in
Europe can contact their representatives in the European Parliament.

Some background. In 2016, the European Commission released a proposal[1] to
update and harmonize copyright across the European Union (EU). Instead of
modernizing copyright law, the proposal  added greater inhibitions to
participation online and failed to include a few key exceptions that would
legalize the many valid uses of copyright- protected content that European
citizens engage in every day.[2] Since the initial proposal, the Commission
proposal has gone through a few revisions, the most recent of which was by
a subcommittee of Parliament called the JURI Committee. This version
included a provision, Article 13, which would have mandated that nearly all
platforms which host user-generated content pre-filter any uploads,
creating a system which would result in overbroad copyright takedowns and
create a potential mechanism for future government censorship of content.
Because of the important consequences this would have on free expression on
the internet, many voices from both the digital rights[3] and human
rights[4] communities spoke out against this proposal.

As a result of this pressure, the European Parliament voted to reject this
version of the text on July 5, and to leave the original Commission
proposal open for amendments to be proposed and voted on in early
September.[5] This leads us to where we are now -- new amendments were
proposed on September 5 (we are still gathering and analyzing these
currently) and a vote on which amendment to adopt will take place on
September 12.

Wikimedia’s position. Wikimedia’s stance on the direction of copyright
reform is simple: reform must acknowledge and embrace the many ways that EU
citizens use the internet already, instead of trying to entrench outdated
copyright norms. What this means practically is that no regulations should
be passed that would force platforms to pre-filter user uploads. We also
support the inclusion of safeguards and exceptions for public domain works,
freedom of panorama, user-generated content, and text and data mining which
protect ordinary uses of the internet like sharing photographs of public
spaces, conducting research, and creating and sharing educational content.
Even when these provisions may not impact Wikipedia directly, Wikipedia
exists as a part of a greater internet ecosystem which would benefit
greatly from a positive direction for EU copyright.

Wikimedia’s involvement. In the weeks leading up to the vote on July 5, the
Wikimedia Foundation[6] and European chapters[7] published several
statements warning of the dangers that pre-filtering content posed to the
collection and sharing of knowledge on the internet. These efforts
culminated in the independent decision of several European-language
Wikipedias to black out their sites for a day to show their commitment to
an internet where everyone can find and share knowledge.[8]

After the European Parliament rejected the JURI version of the text, we
regrouped, reaching out to community leaders to discuss what worked, what
didn’t, and what resources would be needed for communities that want to
speak out about European copyright. Based on these consultations, we have
created a landing page, available at fixcopyright.wikimedia.org which includes
a short introduction and call to action as well as a feature to allow users
to search for and contact their MEPs via email, phone, or Twitter.[9] The
landing page is currently available in 4 languages, and allows users to
contact almost all 751 MEPs. We're working right now on getting it
translated in more languages. While some campaign pages have focused on
targeting specific undecided or opposition MEPs, we felt it was important
for the Wikimedia community in particular to feel fully represented in this
campaign.

There is also a secondary informational page on Meta[10] where we have
gathered some information and resources for the community to use in their
messaging. In turn, we are asking community members to add any new blog
posts, chapter statements, or resources that they have created to this
secondary page as well so it can truly encapsulate the Wikimedia movement’s
work on this subject.

What you can do. Our main goal over the next week is to publicize this page
and our position as widely as possible -- this is a grassroots mobilization
campaign, and therefore we need to see a large amount of engagement with
the “Contact Your MEP” tool for this to be effective. If you are an EU
citizen, please use the tool! If you feel so obliged, you can also support
by engaging in our #fixcopyright social media campaign and linking to the
page, or by sharing as statement by Wikimedia Foundation Board Chair María
Sefidari Huici statement[11] which also includes the link to our landing
page.

Questions? If you have any questions about this campaign, or would like to
get involved in the translation of our resources, please contact me
directly at jgerl...@wikimedia.org or subscribe to the public policy
mailing list to discuss.[12]

Best,

Jan



[1]
http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2016/EN/1-2016-593-EN-F1-1.PDF

[2]
https://blog.wikimedia.org/2016/09/13/european-commission-copyright-leaks/

[3]
https://www.liberties.eu/en/news/delete-article-thirteen-open-letter/13194

[4]
https://edri.org/press-release-meps-ignore-expert-advice-and-vote-for-mass-internet-censorship/

[5]
https://blog.wikimedia.org/2018/07/05/european-parliament-votes-against-copyright-proposal/

[6]
https://blog.wikimedia.org/2018/06/25/time-is-running-out-to-defend-user-rights-online/

[7]
https://blog.wikimedia.de/2017/11/20/nofilter-bedrohen-geplante-upload-filter-die-wikipedia/

[8] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament_vote_in_2018

[9] https://fixcopyright.wikimedia.org/

[10] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fix_copyright

[11]
https://wikimediafoundation.org/2018/09/04/internet-under-threat-european-copyright-reform/

[12] https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/publicpolicy


==



Jan Gerlach
Sr. Public Policy Manager
Wikimedia Foundation
1 Montgomery Street, Suite 1600
San Francisco, CA 94104
jgerl...@wikimedia.org
@pd_w <https://twitter.com/pd_w>
@wikimediapolicy <https://twitter.com/wikimediapolicy>
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