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Humans of Copyright: the #FutureOfKnowledge is in danger

Researchers, startups, creators, software professionals, lifelong learning professionals and many other knowledge practitioners gathered last week in the European Parliament to warn its members (MEPs) about the risks that the copyright reform poses for the circulation of knowledge in Europe.

This initiative of the Copyright for Creativity (C4C) Coalition was supported by MEPs Catherine Stihler, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg and Julia Reda. It brought together more than 70 participants, including several MEPs.

We first heard from researchers, who felt like they were not included in the discussion even though their work in the area of text and data mining (Article 3) or open science activities will be negatively impacted by this copyright reform.

Then, the software development community raised concerns about the inherent threat of Article 13 on open-source software platforms. Should the reform pass, they would no longer be able to collaborate on software code improvement and debugging, as all platforms that allow the sharing of code are threatened.

Besides, new conditions for text and data mining and a brand new right for press publishers could be a major setback for many European startups working in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Datasets needed to feed machine learning could indeed be over-regulated, making them inaccessible or too expensive. Such hurdles could undermine the EU’s capacity to become a leader in this field instead of lagging behind the US or Asia.

Discussions emerged about the implementation of exceptions for copyright, notably for the preservation of cultural heritage, teaching or to unlock out-of-commerce works.

The point was also made that data journalism can only be efficient through the use of text and data mining (TDM). The latter could be strongly affected by the proposed provision on TDM (Article 3), said Maarten Lambrechts, a Belgian data journalist, as it is currently intended to only apply to research organisations.

One of the most controversial measures included in the reform proposal is the implementation of an automated content filter that would be applied to all content uploaded on the Internet (Article 13). This measure, designed to “prevent any copyright infringement”, would imply the pre-scanning of all uploaded Internet content, jeopardising fundamental rights and the circulation of knowledge.

An incarnation of Article 13 even disrupted the breakfast to explain why it is good to put a stop to knowledge circulation nowadays.

But, in the end, what’s the point?

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