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European Commission copyright consultation/Single EU copyright title

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Respect for rights European Commission copyright consultation
A single EU Copyright Title
Other issues

The European Commission is considering modernizing European copyright laws. To get feedback and input on this modernization, the Commission has published a series of questions, and is looking to interested stakeholders (like our community) to answer them. This is a vital opportunity to participate in a dialogue that could have a major impact on copyright laws and the future of the free knowledge movement. More background is available from the European Commission.

We would like to prepare a draft response here, as a collaborative experiment. If we wish to respond, it will need to be finalized before the end of January 2014 (see the proposed timeline).

Welcome to the discussion! Please help by answering the questions below.

A single EU Copyright Title[edit]

The idea of establishing a unified EU Copyright Title has been present in the copyright debate for quite some time now, although views as to the merits and the feasibility of such an objective are divided. A unified EU Copyright Title would totally harmonise the area of copyright law in the EU and replace national laws. There would then be a single EU title instead of a bundle of national rights. Some see this as the only manner in which a truly Single Market for content protected by copyright can be ensured, while others believe that the same objective can better be achieved by establishing a higher level of harmonisation while allowing for a certain degree of flexibility and specificity in Member States’ legal systems.

Question 78[edit]

78) Should the EU pursue the establishment of a single EU Copyright Title, as a means of establishing a consistent framework for rights and exceptions to copyright across the EU, as well as a single framework for enforcement?



  • Your name here

No opinion[edit]

  • Your name here


  • --Aktron (talk) 10:26, 18 December 2013 (UTC) European integration process made two things, that were unthinkable before possible: The common market and cultural interchange between nations. Having the European copyright legislation harmonized would allow us to define single rules. This will greatly contribute to the further development of cultural interchange, as the level of the legal certainty will get much higher - and everyone on the Internet will benefit from this, including both commercial subjects as well as the Non-governmental orgnaizations, such as Wikimedia, that cooperate internationally. We would be able to expand our successfull projects throughout all the 28 Member states equally without any limitations.[reply]
  • Depends on whether the single copyright title is better for Wikimedia's goals than the existing patchwork of approaches. We can only really decide this based on whether it would make the copyright regime better for the end goal of bringing about "a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge". If a single EU copyright law would reduce the public domain, or prevent countries from opting out of things like mandatory DRM schemes, then we should oppose it. Currently the copyright and IP system is slanted in favour of rightsholders and against the public. It needs to be rebalanced in favour of the public and the public domain (who are—philosophically at least—the "rights granters"!). If EU copyright reform doesn't recognise that, then we shouldn't support it. —Tom Morris (talk) 13:27, 9 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Proposed Foundation answer[edit]

Based on the Tom Morris and Aktron above, I propose the following answer for the official Foundation response: -LVilla (WMF) (talk) 01:02, 7 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]

The goal of the Wikimedia movement is "a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge". Standardization and harmonization of copyright laws supports this goal, because it would help our contributors simplify their copyright concerns and instead focus on our creating new knowledge. The current situation - where creating and benefiting from content requires interpreting the copyright laws of many different Member States - benefits only lawyers and the large corporations who can afford them, not creators or citizens.
At the same time, the Wikimedia movement (nor other creators) could not blindly support a new title. The benefits of harmonization could easily be outweighed by many of the harmful proposals under consideration, like increased support for mandatory technical protection measures and increased pressure on intermediaries to monitor and censor communication. So this support must be tentative and would ultimately depend on the quality of the proposed title.

Question 79[edit]

79) Should this be the next step in the development of copyright in the EU? Does the current level of difference among the Member State legislation mean that this is a longer term project?


[Open question]

  • We believe that having a single copyright title is the first step, rather than the next. In a global market, any reform of copyright is bound to fail if pursued by individual states: the free movement of people required us to set up a uniform visa policy in the Schengen area; the free movement of ideas requires the same effort. All the more so because in the present time cultural works circulate across national borders in quantities unthinkable till a decade ago, requiring action even more than the (less common) circulation of people.
  • Because it's the first step, it must not be a long term, but also a short term project. We can start setting the direction immediately. Building upon an international copyright treaties principle such as the rule of the shorter term, and upon an ever-expanding European principle such as the highest level of protection (EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, Article 53) or the principle of prevalence of the more favourable law, an EU regulation should first of all establish (with immediate application) that an EU user or reuser of a copyright-protected work shall only be bound to the least restrictive of all EU states' laws and regulations for such a work. This will immediately eliminate any copyright market friction caused by cross-border legal uncertainties, and automatically produce a self-sustaining push towards unification of the legislation in the coming years.
  • ...

Proposed Foundation answer[edit]

Based on the Free Knowledge comments, and in the spirit (though with very little text) of the unsigned comment above, I propose the following answer for the official Foundation response: —LVilla (WMF) (talk) 01:20, 7 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]

The level of difference among Member States, and the vast circulation of ideas and information in the modern world, means that this is a high priority issue that should be dealt with in the near future, rather than a longer-term project. The results of exploratory projects - such as the Wittem Code - prove that it is quite possible to come up with a unified, harmonised EU copyright law. The longer the law remains conflicting and uncertain, the longer copyright users and creators, like Wikimedia's editors, will be hindered by the least clear and least flexible rules of the various Member States.