Mozilla has launched a petition — and will be releasing public education videos — to reform outdated copyright law in the EU
By Katharina Borchert
The internet is an unprecedented platform for innovation, opportunity and creativity. It’s where artists create; where coders and entrepreneurs build game-changing technology; where educators and researchers unlock progress; and where everyday people live their lives.
The internet brings new ideas to life everyday, and helps make existing ideas better. As a result, we need laws that protect and enshrine the internet as an open, collaborative platform.
But in the EU, certain laws haven’t caught up with the internet. Current copyright legal framework is outdated. It stifles opportunity and prevents — and in many cases, legally prohibits — artists, coders and everyone else from creating and innovating online. This framework was enacted before the internet changed the way we live. As a result, these laws clash with life in the 21st century.
Here are just a few examples of outdated copyright law in the EU:
It’s illegal to share a picture of the Eiffel Tower light display at night. The display is copyrighted, and tourists don’t have the artists’ express permission.
In some parts of the EU, making a meme is technically unlawful. There is no EU-wide fair use exception.
In some parts of the EU, educators can’t screen films or share teaching materials in the classroom due to restrictive copyright law.
It’s time our laws caught up with our technology. Now is the time to make a difference: This fall, the European Commission plans to reform the EU copyright framework.
Mozilla is calling on the EU Commission to enact reform. And we’re rallying and educating citizens to do the same. Today, Mozilla is launching a campaign to bring copyright law into the 21st century. Citizens can read and sign our petition here. When you add your name, you’re supporting three big reforms:
- Update EU copyright law for the 21st century.
Copyright can be valuable in promoting education, research, and creativity — if it’s not out of date and excessively restrictive. The EU’s current copyright laws were passed in 2001, before most of us had smartphones. We need to update and harmonise the rules so we can tinker, create, share, and learn on the internet. Education, parody, panorama, remix and analysis shouldn’t be unlawful.
- Build in openness and flexibility to foster innovation and creativity.
Technology advances at a rapid pace, and laws can’t keep up. That’s why our laws must be future-proof: designed so they remain relevant in 5, 10 or even 15 years. We need to allow new uses of copyrighted works in order to expand growth and innovation. We need to build into the law flexibility — through a User Generated Content (UGC) exception and a clause like an open norm, fair dealing, or fair use — to empower everyday people to shape and improve the internet.
- Don’t break the internet.
A key part of what makes the internet awesome is the principle of innovation without permission — that anyone, anywhere, can create and reach an audience without anyone standing in the way. But that key principle is under threat. Some people are calling for licensing fees and restrictions on internet companies for basic things like creating hyperlinks or uploading content. Others are calling for new laws that would mandate monitoring and filtering online. These changes would establish gatekeepers and barriers to entry online, and would risk undermining the internet as a platform for economic growth and free expression.
At Mozilla, we’re committed to an exceptional internet. That means fighting for laws that make sense in the 21st century. Are you with us? Voice your support for modern copyright law in the EU and sign the petition today.