Still on "Licences for Europe": an insider's report from the UGC Working Group

A few days ago the IPKat reported news of last week's decision of stakeholders representing the research sector, European technology SMEs, and open publishers to withdraw from the “Licences for Europe” initiative, due to disagreement over Commission’s approach to text and data mining (TDM). In particular, in their letter of withdrawal this group of stakeholders highlighted that 

"any meaningful engagement on the legal framework within which data driven innovation exists must, as a point of centrality, address the issue of limitations and exceptions. Having placed licensing as the central pillar of the discussion, the “Licences for Europe” Working Group has not made this focused evaluation possible. Instead, the dialogue on limitations and exceptions is only taking place through the refracted lens of licensing."

An unimpressed
Robert Schumann ...
This Kat agreed that debate about TDM goes well beyond the topic of licensing, and she concluded her post wondering how things were going in the Working Group dealing with user-generated content (UGC), as also this is something that is not confined to the sole boundaries of licensing.

Her plea for help was promptly answered by a reader who participates in the UGC Working Group. 

Writing under the musical nom de plume of Robert Schumann [which he/she probably preferred to the possibly overly EU-enthusiastic - yet soundalike - Robert Schuman], he/she provided this engaging (yet possibly worrisome) report from inside the UGC Working Group:

"Given the IPKat's question about the progress in the Licences for Europe Working Group on UGC and yesterday's remarks by Commissioner Barnier on the overall progress of the Licences for Europe exercise, I thought that it would be interesting to give a brief update on how the discussions on UGC are evolving.

... and a cheerful EU
enthusiast Robert Schuman
As someone who participates in the working group on UGC I am somewhat baffled by the Commissioner's perception that the Commission "has established a day-to-day structured dialogue between those concerned with producing, distributing and using copyright-protected content." 

From the inside of this particular WG it looks more like the complete opposite.

The 4 meetings that have taken place so far have been rather unstructured, consisting almost exclusively of various industry and civil society representatives explaining what they are doing and what they would consider to be important. 

On a number of occasions these presentations have touched on legal issues related to UGC, while in other cases they simply consisted of presentations of particular business models (or complaints about other people's business models). 

These presentations inevitably lead to exchanges of opinion wherein the first participant disagrees with something that was said in the presentation, which leads to another stakeholder to disagree with that and so on (until the sandwich lunch is being served - after which the same exercise begins anew). 

This week's meeting saw the Commission undertake a brave but ultimately half-hearted attempt to shift the focus of discussion to a number of user cases prepared by civil society representatives. Of the 10 or so user cases only three could be discussed (without yielding much new insights) before the allocated time was up (as there were 3 more business models which needed to be presented).

Kat-inspired Chef's fantasy lunch box
Given this, it is hardly surprising that after its fourth meeting the working group has yet to identify the actual problem for which it is supposed to find “specific, short-term solutions”. 

While there has not been a mass exodus of participants comparable to last week’s announcement related to the TDM Working Group, this makes the overall outlook appear equally grim. 

If the Commission wanted to be honest with itself (and to do everyone involved in the process a huge favour) they would concede that the setup does not work and shut down the working group (as well as the one on TDM) at the upcoming mid-term plenary [this is scheduled to take place by 4 July]

Instead they could focus their time and energy on the other two working groups [on cross-border access and audiovisual heritage institutions] that seem to be much more productive (in my humble opinion coming up with solutions for two out of four Licences for Europe issues would be a pretty respectable outcome)."

Thanks 'Robert' for this report, which is quite … ehm ... telling. Merpel hopes that at least the sandwich lunches served during these meetings in Brussels were more substantial than the discussions that seem to have taken place therein. 
Still on "Licences for Europe": an insider's report from the UGC Working Group Still on "Licences for Europe": an insider's report from the UGC Working Group Reviewed by Eleonora Rosati on Thursday, May 30, 2013 Rating: 5


  1. This is great Eleonora, keep it up.


  2. Commission sandwiches are terrible. Do not make up for the experience in any way.


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