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Postponed European legislative debate on copyright; an opportunity to improve educational exception

The European Parliament’s decision to submit the reform of the copyright legislation in the European Union to a full public debate in plenary in September gives civil society and education unions a chance to push for the desired open, broad and flexible EU copyright educational exception.

On 5 July, the European Parliament (EP) sent the copyright directive back for later discussion, and all members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will vote on the text from 10-13 September 2018. Education unions continue to call on the EP to improve the educational exception in the copyright reform. Education International’s European Region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), urges the European Parliament to vote in favour of an open, broad and flexible EU copyright education exception.

Three issues still need to be fixed in the EU directive

After the EP JURI Committee voting on the Copyright proposal on 21st June, ETUCE was concerned that the current draft Directive will weaken exceptions, create more barriers and disproportionally undermine citizen’s user rights in favour of the interests 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 open education on the Internet resources, especially, due to ‘censorship’ filters. Those must be deleted for a free and open Internet space.

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

·         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. Education is a human right, and licenses can restrict the fair use of creative works. Licenses do not only often limit the scope of exceptions, they also create legal barriers to collaboration across borders, increase legal uncertainties and the workload for teachers.

·         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 exchanged for educational purposes when private email addresses of parents and students are used.

·         Social dialogue: the EP must ensure that social partners are consulted in the national implementation of the EU copyright directive. The selection of resources 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.

For further information, please find the June 2018’s joint ETUCE-EFEE-COMMUNIA statement on the Copyright reform, drawing attention to the major issues related, in particular, to Articles 4 and 13 on education of the Directive.

Resources on education and copyright are available here

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