European Commission Consultation On Copyright Reveals Chasm Between Views Of Public And Publishers
from the now-they-can't-deny-it,-but-will-they-act-on-it? dept
In January of this year, we urged Techdirt readers to express their views on copyright by participating in the European Commission’s consultation on the subject. It seems that many of you did, judging by the final numbers, which have just been published by the Commission (pdf):
The public consultation generated broad interest with more than 9,500 replies to the consultation document and a total of more than 11,000 messages, including questions and comments, sent to the Commission’s dedicated email address. A number of initiatives were also launched by organized stakeholders that nurtured the debate around the public consultation and drew attention to it.
Some 5600 response came from the public, 2400 from authors/performers, and a thousand or so from companies. The European Commission has published an analysis of the comments on a question-by-question basis. This makes it slightly hard to get an overall sense of what the various sectors are saying, but fortunately Leonhard Dobusch has tackled that problem in an illuminating post on the Governance Across Borders blog:
I tried to have a look at the bigger picture here: what do we learn about the state of copyright at large? And what overall direction should copyright reform take?
Here’s how he addressed those questions:
What I have done is to check for each of the 24 issue sections whether one of the respective stakeholder groups sees a need for copyright reform or is content with the current copyright system (for details check out a public Google spreadsheet with original quotes). The results are not entirely surprising and very clear: we have a strong divide among copyright stakeholders with end users and institutional users (e.g. libraries, archives, universities) strongly in favor of copyright reform and authors, collective management organizations, publishers and producers in favor of the current copyright system.
He then turned that information into two striking graphics:
For those that can’t view those images, they show the public massively in favor of reforming just about every aspect of copyright, and publishers massively against doing so. As Dobusch writes:
the two charts above indicate that current EU copyright is very unbalanced. When one side is completely satisfied with the status quo and the other is very unhappy then this is not a balanced situation. Given that a good compromise should leave everybody equally unhappy, the results of the consultation also show the direction for copyright reform efforts of the new EU Commission: re-balancing copyright requires at least some reform as demanded by end users and institutional users, most importantly a more harmonized and flexible system of exceptions and limitations.
This is what Techdirt and many others have been urging for years. What’s important here is that with this significant response to the consultation, it is now impossible for the European Commission to ignore the chasm between the views of the public, hugely unhappy about the current imbalance of copyright, and those of the publishers, desperately trying to keep things as unfair and as profitable as they are currently. Whether the Commission does anything about it is quite another matter.