Monday, October 23, 2017

Proposed EU Copyright Reform Sparks Protests

By Cassia Smith

On September 6, 2017, a coalition of 15 organizations representing European academia, libraries, and research and digital rights communities delivered an open letter to the European Union’s Legal Affairs Committee. In that letter, this coalition, led by SPARC Europe, protested potentially harmful provisions in the current draft of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. These organizations called for significant amendments be made to the directive, and called for like-minded organizations to add their names to the signatory list by October 1. The amended letter will be delivered to the Legal Affairs Committee sometime this month.

In particular, the letter is concerned with Articles 11 and 13 of the draft directive, which these organizations fear could significantly impact Open Access and Open Science in the EU. According to the letter, Article 11 proposes that “links to news stories and the use of titles, headlines, and fragments of information… become subject to licensing,” and that these requirements be extended to academic publishing as well. This proposed requirement could have a significant impact not only on the public’s ability to access and evaluate the news, but also on researchers’ ability to share research.

Article 13 proposes significant restrictions on public-access repositories of scientific publications and research data, which would significantly increase the administrative and technical burden on the organizations that host and support these repositories. The letter also calls for smaller revisions to a number of other directive articles to promote best practices and ensure access to various resources from educational institutions.

These issues are a concern for many communities within education and research. The Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) organization is a signatory on the letter, and is encouraging concerned librarians from EU countries to request a meeting with their MEPs to express opposition to the proposed copyright changes. Libraries often help administer the repositories that are affected by the Article 13 restrictions, and the proposed changes in Article 11 could impact already-expensive academic journal subscriptions. These restrictions are also in conflict with libraries’ stated mission of improving access to knowledge, learning, and research. The final draft of this proposal could have an effect not only on scientists’ ability to share and conduct research, but also on libraries’ historic role as gateways to scholarship and knowledge.

You can read the full letter with all of its recommended revisions on the SPARC Europe website. The proposed Directive itself can be downloaded from the European Commission’s website.


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