Our view is that the European regulatory framework should enable open, collaborative ecosystems to thrive, create jobs and ensure a flourishing business in Europe and beyond. We consider that the EU law should reflect an understanding of where and how innovation takes place in the current market and should enable the EU to lead the global digital economy.
The signatory individuals and organisations urge the European Parliament and the EU Council to re-assess the current proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, and create a legal environment where all sectors of the economy can flourish in the Single Market.
We are directly involved in or support collaborative software sharing platforms based on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)1. FOSS is defined by the licensing terms that encourage modifications and improvements by anyone. FOSS allows individual users to use the software as they please, to study its source code, to be able to share it, and to customise it according to their needs. Based on a legal analysis of the proposed Copyright Directive , such platforms fall under the scope of its Article 13. This article could negatively impact a market which is worth EUR 229 billion in the EU (2009) and employs a workforce of 3.1 million (2013)2, unless a fundamental reassesment takes place.
As shown in the recently published White Paper (link), the current wording of Article 13 of the Copyright Directive Proposal will most likely disrupt the development of software and create important barriers for the completion of the European Single Market and the expansion of digital innovation. It would do so by restricting important fundamental rights of developers and internet users, without achieving any proportionate benefit.
The content filtering technology which is proposed has two important drawbacks: it is in practice impossible to be applied in the software industry, due to the essential need for human compliance assessment when it comes to source code. Moreover, it can lead to false ' identifications of allegedly infringing software, which could cause developers’ dependencies randomly to disappear3, resulting in lost business, lost productivity, less reliable software, and less resilient infrastructure. As it reads, we consider that the proposed EU Copyright Directive would create legal uncertainty in already existing framework for regulating rules.
- FOSS licences, as approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and the Free Software Foundation. Available at: https://opensource.org/licenses/category, and https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html.
- European Commission (2017). The Economic and Social Impact of Software and Services on Competitiveness and Innovation. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/economic-and-social-impact-software-and-services-competitiveness-and-innovation. Last accessed September 14, 2017.
- Here is one concrete example of extensive disruption due to the removal of a few lines of code, which took place in March last year https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/23/npm_left_pad_chaos/. Last accessed September 14, 2017. Brussels, 25 September 2017
Applicable for online service providers. The current wording of the Article 13 and relevant recitals leave both developers and lawyers uncertain about the cases where and when the relevant rules apply. This is breaking the harmonisation of the European legal framework.
We therefore ask you to assess the unintended negative impacts of Article 13 and re-draft it in order to
successfully uphold collaborative software ecosystems and business creation, where everyone is building upon
the work of others.
We look forward to cooperating with you in the modernisation of the EU’s copyright framework.
List of signatory parties