Liberties and more than 40 fundamental and digital rights organizations, the knowledge community, and users’ organizations sent an open letter to the European Commission on 14 January 2020. We asked for better transparency during the Stakeholder Dialogues about the application of Article 17 of the Copyright Directive.
Article 17 of the Copyright Directive (previously Article 13) regulates the new liability regime of online platforms, upload filters, and agreements between copyright owners and online platforms. Article 17 also tasks the European Commission to organize Stakeholder Dialogues to discuss best practices for cooperation between online platforms and copyright holders. These Guidelines shall be elaborated by the Commission in order to help the national implementation processes and to ensure uniform application of the Directive. These Guidelines should aim to establish best practices for cooperation between platforms, rightholders and users to elaborate proper safeguards for fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech and privacy. Balancing fundamental rights and of the use of exceptions and limitation of copyright protection is also part of the discussion.
The open letter calls on the Commission, in the spirit of better regulation and transparency, to share the draft Guidelines with the participants of the Stakeholder Dialogues and the general public. The purpose of the consultation should be to seek feedback on whether the guidelines can be further improved and to ensure that the guidelines help national implementation processes to comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Therefore, we asked the Commission to ensure that the Guidelines should not be the final step of the dialogue but instead part of the discussion.
The Commission has already organized four Stakeholder Dialogues, where online platforms, rightholders, users’ organizations, fundamental rights and digital rights organizations were present, as were representatives of member states of the EU. The Stakeholder Dialogues are web streamed by the Commission. The next meetings will take place on 16 January and 10 February 2020.
During these meetings, Liberties was vocal about the need to implement fundamental rights safeguards into the Guidelines. You can read the written forms of our comments during the meetings here, here, and here. Freedom of expression and privacy of the users are at stake. The striking question remains the same: how to avoid mandatory upload filters and safeguard users' right to express their opinion freely. Here you can read our speeches at the stakeholder dialogues.
Member states have less than 18 months to implement the Copyright Directive.