Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market “destined to become a nightmare”


Brussels, 26 April 2018


Your Excellency Ambassador, cc. Deputy Ambassador,

We, the undersigned, are writing to you ahead of your COREPER discussion on the proposed Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market.

We are deeply concerned that the text proposed by the Bulgarian Presidency in no way reflects a balanced compromise, whether on substance or from the perspective of the many legitimate concerns that have been raised. Instead, it represents a major threat to the freedoms of European citizens and businesses and promises to severely harm Europe’s openness, competitiveness, innovation, science, research and education.

A broad spectrum of European stakeholders and experts, including academics, educators, NGOs representing human rights and media freedom, software developers and startups have repeatedly warned about the damage that the proposals would cause. However, these have been largely dismissed in rushed discussions taking place without national experts being present. This rushed process is all the more surprising when the European Parliament has already announced it would require more time (until June) to reach a position and is clearly adopting a more cautious approach.

If no further thought is put in the discussion, the result will be a huge gap between stated intentions and the damage that the text will actually achieve if the actual language on the table remains:

  • Article 13 (user uploads) creates a liability regime for a vast area of online platforms that negates the E-commerce Directive, against the stated will of many Member States, and without any proper assessment of its impact. It creates a new notice and takedown regime that does not require a notice. It mandates the use of filtering technologies across the board.

  • Article 11 (press publisher’s right) only contemplates creating publisher rights despite the many voices opposing it and highlighting it flaws, despite the opposition of many Member States and despite such Member States proposing several alternatives including a “presumption of transfer”.

  • Article 3 (text and data mining) cannot be limited in terms of scope of beneficiaries or purposes if the EU wants to be at the forefront of innovations such as artificial intelligence. It can also not become a voluntary provision if we want to leverage the wealth of expertise of the EU’s research community across borders.

  • Articles 4 to 9 must create an environment that enables educators, researchers, students and cultural heritage professionals to embrace the digital environment and be able to preserve, create and share knowledge and European culture. It must be clearly stated that the proposed exceptions in these Articles cannot be overridden by contractual terms or technological protection measures.

  • The interaction of these various articles has not even been the subject of a single discussion. The filters of Article 13 will cover the snippets of Article 11 whilst the limitations of Article 3 will be amplified by the rights created through Article 11, yet none of these aspects have even been assessed.

With so many legal uncertainties and collateral damages still present, this legislation is currently destined to become a nightmare when it will have to be transposed into national legislation and face the test of its legality in terms of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Bern Convention.

We hence strongly encourage you to adopt a decision-making process that is evidence-based, focussed on producing copyright rules that are fit for purpose and on avoiding unintended, damaging side effects.

Yours sincerely,
The over 145 signatories of this open letter – European and global organisations, as well as national organisations from 28 EU Member States, represent human and digital rights, media freedom, publishers, journalists, libraries, scientific and research institutions, educational institutions including universities, creator representatives, consumers, software developers, start-ups, technology businesses and Internet service providers.


1. Access Info Europe

2. Allied for Startups

3. Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER)

4. Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)

5. Copyright for Creativity (C4C)

6. Create Refresh Campaign


8. EDiMA

9. European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA)

10. European Digital Learning Network (DLEARN)

11. European Digital Rights (EDRi)

12. European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA)

13. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES)

14. European University Association (EUA)

15. Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU

16. Lifelong Learning Platform

17. Public Libraries 2020 (PL2020)

18. Science Europe

19. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

20. SPARC Europe


21. Freischreiber Österreich

22. Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA Austria)


23. Net Users’ Rights Protection Association (NURPA)


24. BESCO – Bulgarian Startup Association

25. BlueLink Foundation

26. Bulgarian Association of Independent Artists and Animators (BAICAA)

27. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

28. Bulgarian Library and Information Association (BLIA)

29. Creative Commons Bulgaria


31. Digital Republic

32. Hamalogika

33. Init Lab

34. ISOC Bulgaria

35. LawsBG


37. Open Project Foundation

38. PHOTO Forum

39. Wikimedians of Bulgaria


40. Code for Croatia


41. Startup Cyprus


42. Alliance pro otevrene vzdelavani (Alliance for Open Education)

43. Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic

44. Czech Fintech Association

45. Ecumenical Academy

46. EDUin


47. Danish Association of Independent Internet Media (Prauda) ESTONIA

48. Wikimedia Eesti


49. Creative Commons Finland

50. Open Knowledge Finland

51. Wikimedia Suomi


52. Abilian

53. Alliance Libre

54. April

55. Aquinetic

56. Conseil National du Logiciel Libre (CNLL)

57. France Digitale

58. l’ASIC

59. Ploss Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (PLOSS-RA)

60. Renaissance Numérique

61. Syntec Numérique

62. Tech in France

63. Wikimédia France


64. Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Medieneinrichtungen an Hochschulen e.V. (AMH)

65. Bundesverband Deutsche Startups

66. Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V. (dbv)

67. eco – Association of the Internet Industry

68. Factory Berlin

69. Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL)

70. Jade Hochschule Wilhelmshaven/Oldenburg/Elsfleth

71. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

72. Landesbibliothekszentrum Rheinland-Pfalz

73. Silicon Allee

74. Staatsbibliothek Bamberg

75. Ubermetrics Technologies

76. Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg)

77. University Library of Kaiserslautern (Technische Universität Kaiserslautern)

78. Verein Deutscher Bibliothekarinnen und Bibliothekare e.V. (VDB)

79. ZB MED – Information Centre for Life Sciences


80. Greek Free Open Source Software Society (GFOSS)


81. Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

82. ICT Association of Hungary – IVSZ

83. K-Monitor


84. Technology Ireland


85. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights

86. Istituto Italiano per la Privacy e la Valorizzazione dei Dati

87. Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD)

88. National Online Printing Association (ANSO)


89. Startin.LV (Latvian Startup Association)

90. Wikimedians of Latvia User Group


91. Aresi Labs


92. Frënn vun der Ënn


93. Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning


94. Dutch Association of Public Libraries (VOB)

95. Kennisland


96. Centrum Cyfrowe

97. Coalition for Open Education (KOED)

98. Creative Commons Polska

99. Elektroniczna BIBlioteka (EBIB Association)

100. ePaństwo Foundation

101. Fundacja Szkoła z Klasą (School with Class Foundation)

102. Modern Poland Foundation

103. Ośrodek Edukacji Informatycznej i Zastosowań Komputerów w Warszawie (OEIiZK)

104. Panoptykon Foundation

105. Startup Poland



107. Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D3)

108. Associação Ensino Livre

109. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)

110. Associação para a Promoção e Desenvolvimento da Sociedade da Informação (APDSI)


111. ActiveWatch

112. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee)

113. Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)

114. Association of Producers and Dealers of IT&C equipment (APDETIC)

115. Center for Public Innovation

116. Digital Citizens Romania

117. Initiative

118. Mediawise Society

119. National Association of Public Librarians and Libraries in Romania (ANBPR)


120. Creative Commons Slovakia

121. Slovak Alliance for Innovation Economy (SAPIE)


122. Digitas Institute

123. Forum za digitalno družbo (Digital Society Forum)


124. Asociación de Internautas

125. Asociación Española de Startups (Spanish Startup Association)

126. MaadiX

127. Sugus

128. Xnet


129. Wikimedia Sverige


130. Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA)

131. Open Rights Group (ORG)

132. techUK


133. ARTICLE 19

134. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

135. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)

136. COMMUNIA Association

137. Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA)

138. Copy-Me

139. Creative Commons

140. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

141. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)

142. Index on Censorship

143. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)

144. Media and Learning Association (MEDEA)

145. Open Knowledge International (OKI)

146. OpenMedia

147. Software Heritage

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Article 13: Monitoring and filtering of internet content is unacceptable

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Dear President Juncker,

Dear President Tajani,

Dear President Tusk,

Dear Prime Minister Ratas,

Dear Prime Minister Borissov,

Dear Ministers,

Dear MEP Voss, MEP Boni

The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organisations.

Fundamental rights, justice and the rule of law are intrinsically linked and constitute core values on which the EU is founded. Any attempt to disregard these values undermines the mutual trust between member states required for the EU to function. Any such attempt would also undermine the commitments made by the European Union and national governments to their citizens.

Article 13 of the proposal on Copyright in the Digital Single Market include obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens’ fundamental rights.

Article 13 introduces new obligations on internet service providers that share and store user-generated content, such as video or photo-sharing platforms or even creative writing websites, including obligations to filter uploads to their services. Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business.

Article 13 contradicts existing rules and the case law of the Court of Justice. The Directive of Electronic Commerce (2000/31/EC) regulates the liability for those internet companies that host content on behalf of their users. According to the existing rules, there is an obligation to remove any content that breaches copyright rules, once this has been notified to the provider.

Article 13 would force these companies to actively monitor their users‘ content, which contradicts the ‘no general obligation to monitor’ rules in the Electronic Commerce Directive. The requirement to install a system for filtering electronic communications has twice been rejected by the Court of Justice, in the cases Scarlet Extended (C 70/10) and Netlog/Sabam (C 360/10). Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.

In particular, the requirement to filter content in this way would violate the freedom of expression set out in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. If internet companies are required to apply filtering mechanisms in order to avoid possible liability, they will. This will lead to excessive filtering and deletion of content and limit the freedom to impart information on the one hand, and the freedom to receive information on the other.

If EU legislation conflicts with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, national constitutional courts are likely to be tempted to disapply it and we can expect such a rule to be annulled by the Court of Justice. This is what happened with the Data Retention Directive (2006/24/EC), when EU legislators ignored compatibility problems with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In 2014, the Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive invalid because it violated the Charter.

Taking into consideration these arguments, we ask the relevant policy-makers to delete Article 13.


Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)

European Digital Rights (EDRi)

Access Info


Article 19

Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais

Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)

Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)

Association of the Defence of Human Rights in Romania  (APADOR)

Associazione Antigone

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)

Bits of Freedom (BoF)

BlueLink Foundation

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)

Centre for Peace Studies

Centrum Cyfrowe

Coalizione Italiana Libertà e Diritti Civili (CILD)

Code for Croatia


Culture Action Europe

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Estonian Human Rights Centre

Freedom of the Press Foundation

Frënn vun der Ënn

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights

Human Rights Monitoring Institute

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Without Frontiers

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

Index on Censorship

International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)



Justice & Peace

La Quadrature du Net

Media Development Centre

Miklos Haraszti (Former OSCE Media Representative)

Modern Poland Foundation

Netherlands Helsinki Committee

One World Platform

Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)

Open Rights Group (ORG)



Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI)

Reporters without Borders (RSF)

Rights International Spain

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)


The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia (RTKNS)



CC: Permanent and Deputy Permanent Representatives of the Members States to the EU

CC: Chairs of the JURI and LIBE Committees in the European Parliament

CC: Shadow Rapporteurs and MEPs in the JURI and LIBE Committees in the European Parliament

CC: Secretariats of the JURI and LIBE Committees in the European Parliament

CC: Secretariat of the Council Working Party on Intellectual Property (Copyright)

CC: Secretariat of the Council Working on Competition

CC: Secretariat of the Council Research Working Party[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1508140671158-363c6122-72fc-4″ taxonomies=”16927″][/vc_column][/vc_row]