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EU policy/Copyright 2019

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EU Copyright Reform 2016-2019

Final Vote


This page is supposed to provide information about Wikimedias position on the final parliamentary vote on the EU copyright reform. Here Wikimedia groups can coordinate their actions ahead of the plenary session.

Legislative Process[edit]

After years of deliberation and negotiations on the proposal for a EU copyright reform, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have reached an agreement on a final version of the text. This final version needs to be voted on by both chambers in order to be become law. While a majority in the Council (where the governments of Member States sit) appears certain, a European Parliament plenary majority is by no means guaranteed. The final vote will take place on 26 March 2019

Final Text[edit]

Positive results[edit]

  • Public Domain Safeguard: The reform will enshrine that faithful reproductions of public domain artwork will also be in the public domain. This will prevent legal battles and uncertainties like in the Reiss Engelhorn Museum lawsuit. It will enable an easier incorporation of rich public domain works to Wikipedia and its sister projects and simplify digitisation cooperations.
  • Out-of-commerce works: Cultural Heritage Institutions (CHIs) will have a straightforward way of giving online access to copyrighted works that are not commercially available. This will work either by applying collective licensing or through a fallback exception. We will be able to refer to more works online (on the sites of CHIs), which will improve the general access to knowledge and help shrink the “20th century black hole”.
  • Text and Data mining:

Missing aspects[edit]

  • Freedom of Panorama: Not included in the reform. No changes.
  • User Generated Content: There is no "UGC" exception in the reform, although this was one of the serious and sensible suggestions made. User generated content is a reality of the digital environment and any copyright reform wanting to update the rules should include it. Instead of doing this, Article 13 paragraph 5 simply says that platforms should respect exceptions such as citation and carricature with regards to user generated content being uploaded. And these exceptions aren't even transposed in all EU Member States.

Negative Developments[edit]

  • Article 13 - Upload Filtering: Changes the liability protections for platforms in a way that most of the large, commercial platforms would have no choice but to install upload filters that remove user uploaded content before it even appears online, as long as a rightholder has claimed copyright on parts of the work. This has the potential to curtail the free flow of information we rely on. Additionally, mandating a massive roll-out of content filtering infrastructure across the internet hugely increases the likelihood it will be misused for censorship.
  • New exclusive right for press publishers: It would require anyone showing an excerpt of a news article online to get a license from the publishers first. As this new right doesn't cover links and excerpts of "individual words" or "very short extracts". Most of the uses on Wikimedia projects should be covered by these. Uncertainty remains around the exact length of "very short extracts" and whether it would cover longer footnotes in Wikipedia articles ([example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annexation_of_Crimea_by_the_Russian_Federation#cite_note-time1-42])
  • Educational Exception: We generally support a mandatory exception for education. However, this one is conditional upon licensing schemes not being available. Which means that in countries that currently enjoy broad educational exceptions, these could stop being valid as soon as someone proposes licensing schemes to schools. There is a risk of taking a step back in many EU Member States.

Wikimedia Position[edit]

As spelled out in a recent blogpost, despite some positive articles, Wikimedia considers this reform to be a step in the wrong direction. The main aim of its two central provisions (Articles 11 & 13) is to control and restrict dissemination of content online. This could lead to less information and culture from fewer sources being available to citizens. This is why we cannot support the EU’s proposed copyright reform.

Actions by the Brussels team[edit]

  1. We will lay out the main arguments why we can't support a "yes" vote on the EU copyright reform and send them to MEPs ahead of the vote.
  2. We will set-up meetings with certain MEPs.
  3. We will work with the WMF to produce a short explanatory clip.
  4. We will have coordination calls with community and chapters.

Ideas for Actions by Chapters & Communities[edit]

We plan on having a call with community members in most Member States on which actions would make sense for each community. Possible activities include:

  • "Calling Parties" - Get together as a group to call MEPs together. Calling in groups helps motivation, argumentation and is more fun.
  • Media Work - Write a blogpost, press release, give an interview. We will give our best to help you get the contacts of national or regional journalists.
  • Vloggers/Tweeters - Reach out to people with a following online and ask them to share our worries.
  • Pollling political parties/candidate MEPs: As the vote is ahead of elections, you could write to candidates and their parties asking them about their position on these issues.
  • Joining events with MEPs: Going to events where MEPs are present and asking questions or bringing the issue in a relevant public setting on behalf of the community is important (when they debate innovation, information economy, automation, in some cases jobs in tech, etc., where it makes sense to talk about the influence of copyright)
  • Social media presence: Occasionally partcipating in the debate, politely debunking obvious false statements, etc. (the point is to deliver our ideas and arguments for readers and not to fight with trolls)
  • Localisation: We will prepare a video clip explaining the main issues. It might be powerful to have it subtitles or dubbed in different languages.
  • Supporting like-minded campaigns:There are a few campaigns that are run by groups or organisations close to us and that stay away from "big tech" money. If a local community would like to cooperate with them, we would see no issue with it. Savetheinternet.info is an example of such a campaign.
  • Community engagement: We need the different language communities an opportunity to understand what is at stake. It is ok if somebody doesn't want to join the actions, but it would be counterproductive to witness lack of support just because there is not enough information. Information can be pulled out/refreshed and translated, we can also have a call a.m.a. style to explain issues if needed or put together a short FAQ to address basic issues of why and how. As the Brussels team can reach only some communities, you could take up this role.
  • Celebrity support: If you and your board can get in touch with well known people who might endorse our position, that could help the overall campaign.

If you would like to get in touch with us on your side: eupolicy(_AT_)wikimedia.be

Actual Actions by Chapters & Communities[edit]

Please add your names and activites below, so we can stay coordinated and motivate each other.

(The sections are named after the geography of the MEPs mostly targeted by the initiatives listed in them.)


  • Joint position paper lead by the Internet Service Providers association (ISPA).
  • Information page on our blog /website
  • Support of the ISPA campaign
  • Public relations around (press and social media) the DE:WP shutdown, including the probably highest trending tweet on the matter by one of our board members
  • Shutdown of the regional wiki RegiowikiAT which is hosted by WMAT on March 21
  • Support of the pledge2019.eu campaign
  • Support of the demonstrations in Austria (Graz and Vienna )


  • Written to all MEPs to vote against.
  • Community engaged with other campaigns against Article 13, included helped translate content.









  • Direct Calls




  • Direct Calls




  • Wikipedia shutdown on March 21


  • Personalised letters to MEPs.