EU Copyright Reform: European Parliament vote is a missed opportunity to bolster R&I

13 September 2018

The European Parliament approved the European Copyright Directive on 12 September 2018, paving the way for the final round of negotiations. EUA has followed the issue closely since the European Commission first tabled the proposal in 2016. The Association regrets that the European Parliament did not enhance the Commission’s limited proposal for text and data mining (TDM) in Article 3 of the Directive. EUA also regrets the approval of Article 13 to filter and monitor user-generated content.

Professor Martine Rahier, Chair of the EUA Research Policy Working Group said, “This new Directive misses a great opportunity to encourage research and innovation across Europe.”

The overarching goal of the Directive is to modernise European Union copyright laws, especially in the context of the Digital Single Market. EUA has been a strong proponent of a broad, mandatory exception for TDM for research, innovation and education purposes, following the principle that “the right to read is the right to mine”. TDM is a technique in analysing data and texts aided by software to examine information faster and on a larger scale than traditional reading with the naked eye. TDM promises a wealth of new insight by examining different research results or data sets that might seem unconnected at first glance. Quite prominently, for example, TDM is a building block for advancing artificial intelligence.

Professor Jean-Pierre Finance, Chair of the EUA Expert Group on Science2.0/Open Science, said, “Every user who has lawful access to data should be enabled to mine it with the tools of his or her choice. As universities are increasingly engaged in public-private partnerships and knowledge transfer to the private sector through start-ups and spin-offs, EUA sees a clear-cut need to provide legal certainty for researchers, innovators and fledgling entrepreneurs working with TDM techniques. This would accelerate knowledge creation and shorten the innovation cycle.”

Without a broad, mandatory exception for TDM, the EU will not be able to meet its own ambitions and compete with other leading knowledge economies. In this regard, EUA would like to point out that in May 2018 the Japanese Parliament adopted the Copyright Law Amendment Act including a broad provision enabling large-scale information analysis.

Furthermore, in EUA’s views, Article 13 of the Directive would have benefitted from a stronger exception for educational platforms and institutional repositories operated by universities across Europe. These important infrastructures for research and teaching often do not have the human resources or the financial capacities to establish the mechanisms required by this Article. The Parliament’s vote does a great disservice to research-oriented teaching throughout the EU.

A number of members of Parliament tabled alternative amendments that would have contributed to a legal framework that propels knowledge creation, cutting-edge teaching, digital innovation and competitiveness throughout Europe. EUA is concerned that their efforts for future-proofing copyright were not taken up.

The Association will maintain its current position calling for a broad, mandatory TDM exception throughout the next phase of negotiations in the trilogue between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The final text is due for approval in early 2019.

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