This Thursday, on 5 July 2018, the whole plenary of the European Parliament will vote on a new copyright directive. After the JURI Committee voting of the Copyright proposal on 21st June, ETUCE is, however, concerned that the current draft Directive will weaken exceptions, create more barriers and disproportionally undermine citizen’s user rights in favour of the interest of commercially driven actors. Education trade unions, teachers, academics and researchers have continuously warned about the negative impact of the suggested reforms. As it stands, the current proposal will assert private actor control over how citizens in Europe share, communicate, learn and create knowledge and creative work on the internet – all detrimental to freedom of expression and democratic dialogue. Likewise, if approved, the proposed changes will threaten to disrupt the open education on the Internet resources, especially, due to ‘censorship’ filters. Those must be deleted for a free and open Internet space.

In advance of the vote in the Legal Committee ETUCE, EFFEE and COMMUNIA launched a joint statement to draw attention to the major issues related to Article 4 on education of the Directive.

ETUCE encourages the members of the European Parliament to take a more balanced position than the JURI Committee and adequately defends the interests of European citizens’ user rights. For the following reasons, ETUCE rejects the current draft for the education exception and calls on the EU Parliament to take the necessary steps to ensure that the user rights of European citizens are taken seriously:

#1: Defend a genuine EU-wide exception without license opt-out: It is surprising that the EU does not recognise the importance to establish a genuine copyright exception for education and research purposes. The exception in the Marrakesh Treaty and in other directives are often protected from license override. Education as a human right deserves the same treatment as licenses can restrict the fair use of creative works. They do not only often limit the scope of exceptions, but also create legal barriers for collaboration across borders, increase legal uncertainties and the workload for teachers. Instead of relying on a single piece of legislation, teachers need to familiarise themselves with different contractual conditions. In addition licensors often impose burdensome bureaucratic report mechanisms on teachers and increasingly force education institutions to control and report copyright infringements when they should actually only inform about copyright legislation. Modern and innovative education has to be promoted.

#2 Do not limit the exception to secure online networks: The education exception is still limited  to “secure online environments” which would, for instance, exclude email conversations that are exchanged for educational  purposes when private email addresses of parents and students are used.

#3 Social dialogue: Finally it needs to be ensured that social partners are consulted in the national implementation of the EU copyright directive. The selection of works for teaching and learning as well as related quality assurance measures need to take place at national level, as this is an exclusive national competence of Member States.

Following the joint ETUCE-EFEE-COMMUNIA statement on the Copyright reform (June 2018), ETUCE urges the members of the European Parliament to vote for a public debate on the Directive and, therefore, against the negotiating mandate.