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Create Refresh Campaign: Stop the EU Copyright Censorship Machine


The Create Refresh campaign is a new project to highlight the concerns of creators regarding the EU’s proposed changes to copyright law. Supporting organisations include Creative Commons, Kennisland, La Quadrature du Net, and others. Create Refresh is “calling on creators to be part of a movement to defend their right to create. [The] ultimate aim is to inspire a new solution for digital copyright that protects all creators and their careers.”

The initiative focuses on Article 13 of the European Commission’s copyright proposal, which would require all online services that permit user-generated uploads to install filters that can automatically detect, flag, and censor copyrighted material before the content even hits the web. The provision would apply to websites such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, and even noncommercial sites like Wikipedia.

Such a problematic requirement could be in conflict with other fundamental rights enshrined in existing EU law, such as the provision in the E-Commerce Directive that prohibits general monitoring obligations for internet platforms. Second, the content filtering mechanism would likely be unable to take into account other user rights, such as current limitations and exceptions to copyright. The proposal fails to establish rules that protect the ability of EU citizens to use copyright-protected works in transformative ways—such as video remixes. Or, as OpenMedia puts it, “automated systems are incapable of making sophisticated judgements and will inevitably err on the side of censoring creativity and speech that is perfectly legal.”

In the next few months the remaining European Parliament committees responsible for the reform will hold their votes on potential amendments to the Commission’s original plan. This includes the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), and the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). In addition, the Council of the European Union—essentially, the EU Member State governments led by the Estonian Presidency—has been floating proposed changes. 

Create Refresh comes to the same conclusion as CC and dozens of other civil society organisations calling for a progressive copyright that protects both users and the public interest in the digital environment: Article 13 should be removed from the proposal.

Creators interested in contributing to the campaign can apply for a small grant to develop videos, artwork, or other creative works relating to Article 13 and freedom of expression. Check out Create Refresh on their website, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Posted 15 November 2017