European Commission lacks vision for copyright in the digital age

The copyright reform proposal presented by the European Commission in september 2016 fails to meet the needs of citizens, educators, and researchers across Europe. Instead of strengthening the information economy, the proposal preserves a status quo defined in the analog age.

The Link Tax

This includes unprecedented new Link Tax powers for publishing giants, as well as requirements for websites to monitor and filter content. This will hurt your right to access and share content.

The European Commission has proposed, as part of the Copyright Directive on the Digital Single Market to allow news publishers to claim an additional copyright over the snippets of text which automatically appear alongside most links.

As a result linking to online news content would therefore require a license and explicit permission from the publisher.

It would give press publishers the right to charge fees for websites operating any form of business using snippets of text when they link to content from press publishers.

The European Commission promised to modernise copyright, but instead of creating a well-functioning legal framework addressing the concerns of creators and end-users it proposes to protect old business models by creating what it claims to be a “well-functioning marketplace”.

A disaster for educators, non-profits and individuals

The European Commission is also demanding that companies create or buy expensive new technologies to monitor and filter the content we create. This means every website or service that allows users to upload content will have to build expensive robot programs to spy for material that rightsholders want to block. What’s worse is that these bots won’t be able to make exceptions for parody, public interest, fair use, and many other legal forms of expression.

Because the draft of the Copyright Directive does not limit the implementation of this proposal to aggregators and search engines, it may also allow press publishers to charge non-profits, social media websites, or even individuals who communicate online using hyperlinks. The proposed educational exception, despite having some good elements, will overall worsen the legal environment for educators.

And it likely will introduce major costs for public educational systems around Europe.

Access to most audio-visual content will continue to be hampered by geo-blocking (which the Commission had earlier committed to end), and online platforms might be forced to collaborate with rights holders on censoring content that is shared by users on these platforms. The whole package lacks forward-looking, innovation-friendly measures that embrace digitization as an opportunity for users, creators, businesses, and public institutions in Europe.

We have to act now

Despite opposition from over 120,000 Internet users and dozens of civil society groups, the European Commission charged ahead with its wrong-headed plan. But now that it has reached the European Parliament, we have a real chance to stop it in its tracks. This will have the same impact in Norway as in any if we were full members of EU.

The European community is joining forces to send a clear message to the EU Parliament. We urge everyone that think the web is a wonderful thing to fill out this petition at OpenMedia.

Alek Tarkowsky, Director, Centrum Cyfrowe and Christer Gundersen are co-authors of this text.

Resources used in this text:

Podcast with Purvi Shah talking about Storyweaver

StoryWeaver is an open source platform by Pratham Books for multilingual children’s stories. It addresses all the issues around the lack of content by using an open access framework and technology as force multipliers combined with a platform that supports translation and re-mixing av stories.

I had the great pleasure of co-organizing a workshop at the mEducation Alliance Symposium in Washington on Oct 18–20 with Jennryn Wetzler as the main organizer. After the workshop I sat down with Purvi Shah for a talk about Pratham Books and their latest project StoryWeaver.

Bonus track

Jennryn Wetzler is the Senior Program Designer at U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Collaboratory. She organised a great workshop at the mEducation Alliance Symposium on OER and in this short podcast she talks about why education is important.

What can the «anti OER lobby» learn from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer?

Occasionally I bump in to representatives from the «anti OER lobby» and they often start of by talking about how open educational resources ruins the marked, and if the OER is financed with public money they go on about how the government is using their position to compete in the marketplace handing out «free content».

The problem with this claim is of course that it belongs in another paradigm, a paradigm without what we now call «the internet». This is a global issue but we could use Norway as an example. The idea that the Norwegian government, municipalities  and counties should not be able to let teachers(with a public paycheck) share content on the web under a free license is just ridiculous.

Last week I met a guy from an organization that lobbies hard against OER and while talking to him I came to think about Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft. It was sort of a deja vu moment and it took me back to 2001.

During an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on June 1, 2001 Ballmer said that «Linux is cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches»

15 years later Microsoft has shifted their stands completely and invest substantially in open source and even Balmer himself is quoted saying «We now considers that the threat from Linux is over». Current chief at Microsoft Satya Nadella took it even further and went public 2 years ago saying that Microsoft loves Linux.

In the 15 years that has past Microsoft has lost its position in many markets and is now overtaken by Google and Android in the mobile market while Linux dominates everything from the server market to devices running in cars or in the kitchen.

For anyone that has been a part of both the open source movement and the OER movement its obvious that they share principles,  philosophy and methodology.

So my simple question is: What can the «anti-OER lobby» learn from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer?

Digital delingskultur løser problemet for lag og foreninger som kreves for penger etter bilde-tabbe på 17. mai

Denne teksten ble også publisert på følgende nettaviser første uken i juni 2016: ItPro, Itromsø, Computerworld og Tidens krav.

Aftenposten skriver denne uken om Loddefjord idrettslag som brukte et bilde av det norske flagget i forbindelse med 17. mai uten å spørre fotografen om lov. Dette kostet dem dyrt, noe som er både trist og unødvendig ettersom det finns gode alternativer uten kostnad eller risiko for å havne i retten.

I en verden hvor det har blitt vanlig å dele bilder både på sosiale medier og egne nettsider er det viktig å være bevisst på konsekvensene av å bruke et bilde med copyright uten tillatelse fra opphavsmannen. Dette fikk Loddefjord idrettslag smertelig erfaring med i forbindelse med årets 17. mai-feiring. Etter at de brukte et bilde tatt av fotograf Martine Petra Hoel måtte de punge ut med 5.000 kroner. Fana IL gjorde samme tabben og fikk en regning på 10.000 kroner. Det er mange lag og foreninger over hele landet som har havnet i samme situasjon.

Personlig mener jeg fotografen i dette tilfellet utnytter en utdatert lov og krever en alt for høy sum basert på at noen har gjort en liten tabbe. Det er allikevel lag og foreninger selv som ansvaret her, selv om det er helt unødvendig av dem å sette seg i denne knipen. Det gledelige er nemlig at det finnes en veldig enkel løsningen på problemet. Den digitale delingskulturen er i dag godt utviklet. Denne delingskulturen bygger på at bilder og andre kilder blir underlagt det som kalles en fri lisens.

Den mest brukte av disse er Creative Commons. Denne lisensen gir alle som ønsker det lov til å gjenbruke bilder, film og tekst uten å spørre om lov, men under gitte forutsetninger. Tillatelsen for å gjenbruke har opphavsmannen gitt på forhånd ved å bruke denne lisensen. Denne globale delingskulturen drives frem av frivillige bidragsytere som nettopp ønsker at deres bilder, filmer eller tekster skal kunne gjenbrukes av andre. Nettsider som Wikipedia og Pixabay.com tilbyr i dag et stort antall bilder av høy kvalitet under forskjellige frie lisenser.

Ser man for eksempel etter et bilde av det norske flagget på Wikipedia vil man blant annet finne et bilde tatt av fotografen Hans-Petter Fjeld. Hans-Petter er en av mange frivillig som gjør en fantastisk jobb for å sørge for at den norske versjonen av Wikipedia har denne typen bilder.

Foto: Hans Petter Fjeld, CC BY-SA 2.5

Foto: Hans Petter Fjeld, CC BY-SA 2.5

Jeg jobber til daglig i Nasjonal Digital Læringsarena (NDLA) som er et fylkeskommunal samarbeid for å utvikle digitale læringsressurser for videregående opplæring. For oss er den digitale delingskulturen en del av vår strategi. Dette betyr i praksis at vi deler det vi selv utvikler av innhold under en fri lisens, samtidig som vi gjerne gjenbruker bilder som andre har delt.

Når vi i redaksjonen hos NDLA trengte et bilde av et flagg til en av våre artikler brukte vi det tidligere nevnte bildet fra Wikipedia som Hans-Petter har delt. For Loddefjord idrettslag eller Fana IL ville det vært helt gratis og fritt å bruke det samme bildet – helt uten risiko for å havne i retten eller motta en stor faktura i posten.

How to access more then 500.000 public domain pictures directly from your CMS or blogg

When developing open educational resources, or just writing a blogg, most of us like to add pictures and illustrations. In the old paradigme this was both difficult and expensive. Over the last few years services offering pictures under a free license have been popping up to compete with commercial stock photo alternatives. Pixabay.com is one of these services.

The project is an international website for sharing high quality public domain photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and film footage. In January 2016, Pixabay offered about 550,000 free photos, illustrations, and vectors and almost 1,300 films. They also offer a public Application Programming Interface (API) allowing third party users and website developers to search Pixabay’s image database.

In the demo at det bottom of this blogpost I will show you how I connect to the Pixabay API from WordPress without doing any programming of my own.

Pixabay is not the only provider of pictures and it is important to be aware of the differens between Royalty free and a free license, some of the free license ones that I have used are:

Royalty-free is not the same as a free license

When images are offered royalty-free, this simply means that the purchaser pays a fee and can then use the image without paying additional royalties or licensing fees. This also means the purchaser doesn’t have to give attribution. This is the model used by paid stock photo sites. The problem with this model is that every provider has their own rules and licenses and limitations.

Within the range of Creative commons licenses that require attribution the CC BY license is the most flexible and the CC BY-NC-ND is the most restricted and the part that says Non Commercial is in fact a bit problematic on its own.

Creative Commons Zero (CC0) is the most flexible: CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright- or database-protected content to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.

Pixaby that i use in my blogg license most of their pictures under CC0. In this demo I will show you how easy it is to connect directly to the API at Pixabay without writing any code. It takes about 2 minutes if you are using WordPress.

How to combine the Hollywood blockbuster The Hobbit and creative commons content in the same OER

Can you combine Copyright and Creative Commons? Yes you can!

After a meeting at the EU parlament on Copyright and IP related issues in October 2015 I have received several questions regarding copyright versus creative commons and more specifically how we at Norwegian digital learning arena(NDLA) combine the use of Copyright and CC license.

The main strategy at NDLA is to release content under Creative Commons BY SA but we also use NC on pictures and Copyright in some cases.

To explain this it is best to show an example from NDLA where we do this with a combination of text from our own staff, a picture from NTB Scanpix and the Hollywood blockbuster film made by Peter Jackson called The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug.

Skjermbilde 2016-01-09 kl. 11.40.45

 

These different parts all are released under different licenses:

  1. The text by Tina Andersson Jensen is released under Creative Commons BY SA
  2. The picture of Peter Jackson(top right) by Hannibal Hanschke is released under Creative Commons BY SA NC
  3. The full length movie is released with Copyright and with the limitation that it can only be accessed from IP adresses in Norway.

When combining resources like this it is important to be accurate in marking the different parts with the correct license. In the screenshot under the three different licenses are defined. When a user puts the cursor over the icon the license and relevant information shows in the black frame. (Norwegian text)

Skjermbilde 2016-01-09 kl. 11.48.41

What license to chose?

My personal opinion is that it is best to use Creative Commons BY or BY SA. When using NC(non-commercial) there are some problems in terms of “what is non-commercial” and how this term is to be interpreted.

New Zealand director Peter Jackson arrives for the European premiere of the adventure film 'The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug' in Berlin, Germany, 09 December 2013. The film will start screening in cinemas across Germany on 12 December 2013. Photo: HANNIBAL/dpa Creative commons by-nc-sa 2.0

Photo: NTB Scanpix, HANNIBAL/dpa – Creative commons by-nc-sa 2.0

 

 

This post will come in a new version soon. The Hobbit has be replaced with The King’s Speech on ndla.no

 

What is the status on the free culture movement over a decade after the Lawrence Lessig book «free culture»?

When reading the book «free culture» for the second time(now in Norwegian) I started to reflect on how and if the situation on copyright, IP and free culture has changed since Lawrence Lessig publishes his book in 2004. Lessig was one of the early visionaries that pushed for a reform of our copyright laws and the way we practice law as the world around us is changing.  Lawrence Lessig was also one of the co-founders of Creative Commons that sparked a community sharing text, videos, pictures, learning resources and other works.

My thoughts on this is that in terms of the debate on copyright and IP one could argue that somethings haven’t changed at all, while if you look at the digital commons and the amount of digital content that is released the picture is totally different. We still read and hear stories on a weekly basis on how new laws and trade agreements effect our daily lives in terms of how we need to handle copyright. On the other hand over the last years we have seen the commons of resources growing exponentially making it easer to reuse free content.

The landscape around copyright, fair use and IP is still not easy to navigate

To elaborate I am going to start with a story that an Indian lawyer told me this week at a conference in New Delhi. In 2012 at one of the larger universities in Delhi they did as many others, they copied books and parts of books into learningresources that where used in classes.  This was based on a thought of «fair use» but still the publishers(Oxford university and others) decided to hammer on with a lawsuit. BUT……they did not go after the university, they went after the contracted photocopy shop with an 100.000 dollar lawsuit.  This was in 2012 and they got the courts to issue and «induction» ordering the activity to stop. The case is still unsolved.

This is an example that is very similar to some of the stories from Lessigs book from 2004, and the «tactics» of the copyright lobby seems to be the same, attacking the weakest link, in this case they attacked the pohotocopyer instead of the university. This is just one of many stories that shows that the landscape around copyright, fair use and IP is still not easy to navigate.

The commons is growing exponentially

«State of the Commons report» is an effort to measure the immeasurable scope of the commons by looking at the CC licensed content, along with content marked as public domain, that comprise the slice of the commons powered by CC tools. The report for 2015 was published on December 8th, 2015, and it is showing a very promising development for public domain and CC licensed content.

The number of  of CC licensed works have nearly tripled over the last 5 years

CC1

Picture from Creative Commons.

The number of public domain works have doubled over the last year

CC2

Picture from Creative Commons.

It might seem to me that the «producing part» of free culture community has moved passed that discussion and that we are in the middle of something that looks like a paradigme shift in terms of content released under a free license.

I am writing this post while attending the The Fourth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest in New Delhi and my conclusion is that we need to secure that the lawyers and activist that work to secure the free culture aspects of the copyright battle need our support, as the discussion on these problems are not at all solved.

Copyright and OER in the same debate is not a good mix

Thijs ter Haar - CC BY 2.0

Yesterday I attended a «policy breakfast» on OER at the EU parlament in Brussels. The event was be held in the European Parlament, with introductory speeches from OECD experts and with the presence of EP members.

The event focused on the European level of policymaking, with the goal of discussing possibilities of strengthening European policies and programs that support open education. These kinds of events provide an excellent opportunity to compare experiences and discuss recommendations about policies, and at the same time try to influence parlament members. The event is part of the important work of the Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt:Polska, their mission is to work towards social change and enhancing citizens’ participation through the use of digital technologies and open, cooperative models based on sharing knowledge and other resources.

When trying to bring the issues on Open education to the attention of policymakers it is hard to keep the message simple as there is a rather complex forrest of different problems and issues to be solved.

Copyright and OER in the same debate

The «policy breakfast» tried to combine two discussions, the first is on OER and the second one is copyright reform. These to issues are closely linked as they both affect what kind of content the teacher can use in the classroom and to me this seemed like a good idea when I read it in the invitation. After the meeting my conclusion is that it might have been a bit confusing for those not well wandered in this mace of legal matters and open licenses. While copyright is all about harmonizing the laws across european countries and all the legal and technical issues that comes with it, on the the discussion around Copyright the «devil is most definitely in the details».

The discussion around OER on the other hand is is much more focused on how to promote a policy that increases the development of freely licensed content and all the benefits that comes with sharing and reusing digital learning resources. For those focused on solving issues of copyright and faire use in different European countries the OER movement is only part of the solution.

My advice is to avoid mixing these to issues like we did yesterday. It would have been hard nought to get EU parlament members in the room to understand one of these issues over the course of 90 minutes. So I think it is a lesson to be learned for us OER advocates.

Creative Commons License
This work by Christer Gundersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.