Rethink or delete Article 13 of the new EU Copyright Directive



OW2 supports campaigns to rethink or delete Article 13 of the new EU Copyright Directive.

July 05, 2018

Brussels & Strasbourg

September 12, New Version Passed

In response to the pre-summer debate and vote, several amendments were integrated in the Directive. Actually these amendments made the Directive worse. The original text is here and the amendements passed September 12 are here.  

At least the amendment for a limited exclusion of “open source software developing platforms (...) within the meaning of this Directive” was in the package and thus approved as well. However the wording "software developing platforms" is rather unclear and we are not totally safe.

We now move to the "trilogue" negotiation at member state level and cross our fingers member state representatives will definitely and unambiguously exclude our OSS forges from the claws of the new Directive.

As for the rest, it looks like the new Directive was drafted by people who think, as @Piratenpartei MEP Julia Reda says, "the Internet is made up of just YouTube and FaceBook" and a bad legislation about which Internet godfathers Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee are quoted saying: "Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users." 

Useful links: 

September 4-11, 2018, Action Week

On September 12th the European Parliament in its plenary session will vote again on the new Directive and "we need to make clear that upload filters have no place there" (see: On September 5th, we encourage all coders and developers to write to their European Members of Parliament (EMPs) and let them know how Article 13 will affect the preservation, sharing and improving of code.

You don't know how to do this nor who is your EMP? Don't worry, use the #SaveYourInternet #DeleteArt13 website and make sure you follow the big Act Now button, it will take you to step-by-step process (in your own language!) that will make you send a letter to your EMP in no time. Try it! Do it! It's quick and easy. And it's important!

There are no GAFA involved in this campaign, our concern is about the liability constraints the Directive will impose on our technical infrastructure. Fighting copyright infringements and guarantying authors proper remuneration is one thing, creating barriers and liability threats on collaborative platforms is a whole other matter. As an online platform, OW2 would have to thoroughly monitor anything being uploaded and delete it if it could generate a legal risk. By hampering the agility of collaborative open source development, the Directive is threatening the future of our open source software communities.

Also interesting: 

  • On the EDRi website, an overview of Action Week and details on who voted what
  • Follow Julia RedaVerified on twitter: @Senficon. MEP for @Piratenpartei and the European Pirate Party (PPEU) | Vice-Chair of @GreensEP group. "These algorithms are built on the assumption that all culture is privatized and eventually this will be true." 
  • For a lighter, yet serious, perspective in the Directive and Article 13, check out this awesome Honest Government Ad on Article 13 by the JuiceMedia. Credits and appreciation to the Copyright for Creativity (C4C ) coalition for their initiatives and providing amazing resources for this campaign.
  • This Music Theory Professor Just Showed How Stupid and Broken Copyright Filters Are: “Again and again, YouTube told me that I was violating the copyright of these long-dead composers, despite all of my uploads existing in the public domain.” Automated takedown systems don’t work and stifle free expression online.
    - French EMPs are the most regressively in favour of the new directive, hence here is a paper explaining the issue in French: LA DIRECTIVE COPYRIGHT ET LE PROBLÉMATIQUE ARTICLE 13.

Context and Initial Call

The European Commission and the European Parliament are launching a new Copyright Directive. At OW2 we think this directive will create conditions detrimental to free and open source software.

Article 13 of the proposed directive is summarized as "(creating) an obligation on information society service providers storing and giving access to large amounts of works and other subject-matter uploaded by their users to take appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightholders and to prevent the availability on their services of content identified by rightholders in cooperation with the service providers." 

Such filtering and monitoring constraints make no sense in the context open source and creative commons licenses. However, if applied, software development and dissemination platforms such as GitHub but also the OW2 infrastructure will no longer be able to operate as they do today. It means the end of OSS and software development with code reuse as we know it. 

Open source and creative commons licenses have already solved the problems that Article 13 is trying to address. Article 13 would take us years back 

We have no other choice but to support campaigns against this new Copyright Directive. OW2 has joined the SaveCodeShare campaign by the Free Software Foundation Europe, Openforum Europe and Copyright for Creativity. 

For other ways to take part in the action check out the Wikipedia pages.

After heated debates , on July 5 the European Parliament denied rapporteur Voss the mandate to move forward with the Directive. The Directive is to be discussed during the next Plenary session (10-13 September, 2018) and MEPs now have the opportunity to #DeleteArt13, or at least replace it with a more sensible compromise. Stay tuned for an Action Week September 4-11, spearheaded by our friends at OpenForum Europe, the Free Software Foundation Europe and Copyright for Creativity. September 5 is action day for FOSS developers.