Copyright advocacy update: Smoke signals from the European Parliament
Since we have last reported here on the copyright advocacy activities that Europeana undertakes on behalf of the Europeana Network, the European Commission's proposal for new copyright rules has continued its long path through the European Parliament.
As we are slowly edging towards spring the first parliamentary committees dealing with the proposal have published draft opinions that give us a first picture of how MEPs look at the Commission's proposal. Currently, four Committees of the European Parliament in total are dealing with the Commission's copyright proposal: The committee for Culture and Education (CULT), the Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE ), and the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) which is the overall responsible committee.
Map from "Frost and Fire. Natural engines, tool-marks and chips. With sketches taken at home and abroad. By a Traveller, British Library, public domain
A first look at what the European Parliament wants
In the past two weeks the rapporteurs (MEPs in charge of the file) for both the CULT and IMCO committees have published their draft opinions. Draft opinions represent the first step in formulating the opinion of a committee and largely reflect the political preferences of the rapporteurs. As such these documents will likely undergo significant changes before they become final documents representing the views of the Committees as a whole. The final opinions of the CULT, IMCO and ITRE committees will then be taken into account when the JURI committee adopts its own report, which normally becomes the position of the European Parliament.
So while we are looking at the very first indicators of what to expect from the European Parliament, these draft opinions published by MEP Marc Joulaud (CULT) and Catherine Stihler (IMCO) are promising. Both opinions reflect some of the points that Europeana and Library organisations have been making over the past months in our discussions with a large number of Members of Parliament including the two rapporteurs.
These are draft opinions that mainly reflect the views of their authors. While it is encouraging that rapporteurs from across the political spectrum (Joulaud is a French conservative and Stihler a social democrat from Scotland) see the need for improving the parts of the Commission's proposal that apply to cultural heritage institutions, it is also clear that these attempts will not be met with open arms by all stakeholders and other MEPs. We will see more positions coming out of the EP in the next few weeks, both in the form of the draft report of the JURI committee, which is currently being finalised by MEP Comodini, and by proposals for amendments to the opinions discussed above coming from other MEPs.
In this light we will continue our discussions with MEPs and other stakeholders aimed at ensuring support for our positions. Members of the Europeana Network can help by expressing support for the amendments proposed by MEP Stihler both publicly and by contacting MEPs who serve on the Committees dealing with the copyright reform proposal. Together we have the chance to affect real change here that will help all of us to better achieve our objectives of providing access to the culture held by Europe's cultural heritage institutions.