What’s going on with the EU copyright reform for education?
The draft EU Copyright Directive for the Digital Single Market had a flurry of attention over the last few weeks; and rightly so as the now infamous articles 11 and 13 pose are a serious threat for how we can create, use and share content online. One would almost forget that there are several other articles in the Directive, articles that could potentially improve the way users engage with creative content. Within the project Copyright Reform for Education++Copyright for educationRead more about the project here. we focus on one of these articles: article 4. We bring together educational stakeholders, civil society and argue for a strong mandatory educational exception that makes sense in the digital age, and brings open education and lifelong learning as close to a copyright-sanctioned reality as possible. We thought it would be good to share what we are arguing for, and what you could do to help.
The next major step in the EU copyright reform process++Copyright for the modern ageRead more on why Kennisland engages with copyright for the modern age. is the vote scheduled for 12 September, when the entire European Parliament (about 750 people) will vote on amendments that are being put forward until 5 September. They will vote on amendments to the text put forward by the European Commission, which was shared back in 2016. The JURI report, which was rejected on 5 July by the parliament had several improvements for the education exception on article 4. It was, however, not nearly enough to truly make copyright work for education in Europe. For the purpose of the vote on 12 September, we need to work with the Commission text. Below we will share the three most important things to fix. There are more points of concern, which you can read about in a 2016 analysis of the Commission proposal.
Problem 1: Education is not just formal education
The European Commission’s proposal does not include all important providers of education, as only formal educational establishments are covered by the exception. While the EU has shown tremendous support to lifelong learning in other areas of policy, the Commission text does not explicitly include the value of informal and non-formal education conducted in the workplace. While the EU has shown tremendous support to lifelong learning in other areas of policy, the Commission text does not explicitly include the value of informal and non-formal education conducted in the workplace. We therefore ask for the inclusion of heritage institutions in the exception (which was the case in the JURI report), and NGOs who also play an important role in education.
Problem 2: Education is not just in the classroom
In today’s Europe, educational activities are legitimately provided in many locations and through various means of communication. The consequence of the European Commission’s proposal to limit digital uses to secure institutional networks and to the premises of an educational establishment is that educators are not allowed to develop and conduct educational activities in other facilities such as libraries and museums, and they will not be able to use modern means of communication, such as emails and the cloud. All to the detriment of learners. We therefore argue that the exception needs to be clarified to say that the exception applies wherever the education is provided under the care of an educational establishment, and furthermore clarify that the exception applies in electronic environments such as through email and the cloud.
Problem 3: Licenses are not the solution
Educators should not need a lawyer to understand what they can and cannot do.Educators should not need a lawyer to understand what they can and cannot do. We believe in transparency. Educators would benefit from an education exception on which they can rely across the European Union. Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposal will maintain the fragmented legal copyright framework when it comes to education as long as licenses can overrule the exception. This is the case in article 4(2) of the exception. We argue that this license priority should only apply to the extent that equivalent collective licensing agreements authorising the acts described the exception are included, and the licenses are tailored to the needs and specificities of educational establishments are mutually agreed by the licensor and the licensee. This follows from the research done by Teresa Nobre, which clearly showed that educational licenses in several EU countries are simply too one-sided.
In addition we argue that it should not be possible for the exceptions to be overridden by contracts, and that it should be possible for people to grant a royalty-free license for educational materials, doing so for example through Creative Commons-licenses++Creative CommonsKennisland has been representing Creative Commons in the Netherlands since 2004.. These points were already included in the JURI-report. While these concerns might seem legal nit-picking, the final wording of article 4 will profoundly affect how innovative education can develop over the coming decades in Europe While these concerns might seem legal nit-picking, the final wording of article 4 will profoundly affect how innovative education can develop over the coming decades in Europe.. Especially the developments of open online education, non-formal learning and how schools can collaborate online will either be promoted by this text, or are in danger to be stifled before these innovations can show their true potential.
We continue to argue for this better copyright exception. If you would like to know more on the subject, or want to help, we invite you to visit the Copyright for education website or get in contact with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.