For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Licences for Europe -- or a new law-making style?


Nothing less than royal-red velvet for
Merpel to rest her eyes 
It was only yesterday that Jeremy posted an item in which he mentioned the high frequency with which the IPKat and related blogs such as The 1709 Blog receive correspondence from distinguished sources who disseminate yummy/ interesting/ disturbing pieces of news but nonetheless wish to retain a certain degree of anonymity [Merpel usually retains anonymity only when she is required to reveal her real age or weight].

While she was dozing on her favourite bed/fit-for-human pillow (as she always does to digest her not-so-light lunches), Merpel was awaken by the thrill of an incoming email containing information she could not but disseminate as quickly as possible, as it elicits reflections on various issues pertaining to EU copyright law-making and objectives, from a source who asked to retain a degree of anonymity.

As IPKat readers will be aware, the EU Commission has just launched the “Licences for Europe” initiative. As was announced at the end of 2012, this is aimed at tapping the potential and exploring “the possible limits of innovative licensing and technological solutions in making EU copyright law and practice fir for the digital age.”

According to Merpel's source, things in Brussels are not as innocent as she imagined at first. 

Wide-awake Merpel is constantly in search
of conspiracies, intrigues or mere gossip
Apparently, in fact, while the “Licences for Europe” initiative unfolded and

[a]fter the usual floury of verbose speeches, things moved to closed door discussions under Chatham House rules. Discussions on what precisely, hard to say, as no one agreed. There are few reports on what happened there, other than techdirt, although it's clear that the licensing approaches to be looked into cover cross-border distribution, user generated content and the mysterious UK import of data mining.

Now, the interesting twist is that most participants were flatly told they could not talk about what they wanted to talk about: for some, that alternatives to licensing such as exceptions might be sensible; for others, that licensing terms were problematic, whether for libraries or for artists; others doubted that 'data-mining' or certain UGC activities were always subject to copyright. 

The process stands out as a new and refreshing way of law making: start from an assumption about copyright law that has not been backed by any analysis [what about the mantra-sounding statements according to which any copyright reforms should be grounded on sound economics and be evidence-based?] that nor backed by any academic consultation or involvement; lock people up in a closed room at regular intervals over the course of 8 months; apply political pressure; allow them only to agree with licensing approaches; and conclude that all had a very productive discussion about how important to support licensing improvements over matters which might not even be subject to copyright. Even better, bring a few national libraries in there - keep powerful companies away, push them to sign a nice CC licence, and hey presto, the EU has officially reached the conclusion that data-mining is protected by the copyright regime ...

Apparently this is not all, as

what is at work there is partly an effort to undo the UK government's recent announcements on copyright reform: use a stakeholder dialogue to sanction the notion that data mining or user generated content is subject to copyright systematically; when the UK gov essentially doubts whether that is the case, clarifies it with an exception and aims to prevent restrictive contractual practices e.g. on data mining."

All this sounds very intriguing to Merpel who is constantly looking for evidence of new conspiracy plans .. But what do IPKat readers think? 

2 comments:

Roufousse T. Fairfly said...

and hey presto, the EU has officially reached the conclusion that data-mining is protected by the copyright regime ...”

What do they mean? Are they referring to the protection of the input data sets (the "ore"?), or the product obtained through, er, smelting? (that would then be the "metal").

And what is "user generated content"? Is it limited to "data mining"? Is this comment "user generated content"? And whom does it "belong"?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they mean "allowed", ie those doing the mining are protected fron being sued/prosecuted?

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