Transcription – Video Colloquium „Copyright“ with MEP Axel Voss

This is the transcription of the Video Colloquium on the topic of “Copyright”. It took place on Friday, September 21th of October in 2018. Participants of the discussion were MEP Axel Voss (EPP Group Spokesman on Legal Affairs and Rapporteur for Copyright Directive, Germany), Bozhidar Bozhanov (Founder and CEO at LogSentinel , Bulgaria), Alek Tarkowski (President and Co-Founder Centrum Cyfrowe, Coordinator Creative Commons, Poland). The Conversation was hosted and moderated by Sabria David.

Video Colloquium on „Copyright“ with MEP Axel VossBozhidar BozhanovAlek Tarkowski hosted by Sabria David (Friday, September 21rst, 2018)

The positions of the participants concerning Copyright are far apart. But as the final question of the conversation reveals all three of them would share a vision for an ideal digital society: A co-created digital society that is open and transparent and were everyone respects the rights of others would fit the wishes of each.
A respectful conversation finds its way, through controversies, across borders, languages and approaches and despite technical constraints. This is possible, even on a controversial subject like Copyright. As our guests said after the colloquium: “exactly this kinds of discussions, where you can respectfully disagree and at the same time propose improvements and solutions, is the way forward”.
Creating communication spaces where people can across borders respectfully talk to and learn from each other is the approach of the “Colloquium European Societies in Digital Age”.
If you want to join the network of the “Colloquium European Societies in Digital Age” please send an email to Michael Münz or Sabria David.
Here is the link to the primary source of the debated Copyright Directive with the quoted Articles:


[Sabria David]
Hello, a warm welcome to the first video colloquium of the “Colloquium European Societies in digital Age”. […] We are dealing with the challenges of digital societies from a European perspective.

One of the formats is a video colloquium. That means we put together people interested in a special topic from different European countries. We create a communication space across borders and across discussion bubbles, where people can talk to each other who maybe wouldn’t have talked together before.

“We” this is: Me, Sabria David, Slow Media Institute. I am setting up that project with the Gustav Stresemann Institute (my colleague Michael Münz is sitting there), and with the EU Commission and also with the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.

Now as we are looking for topics that are really important for digital societies Europe-wide we chose as first topic “copyright”. Because Copyright as a real hotly debated and very deep important issue. So we invited to our first Video Colloquium Mr. Axel Voss who is Member of the European Parliament and deeply linked to the new Copyright proposition and also […]

[We are sorry that all female speakers we have been asking to join the discussion] couldn’t make it. So at least we can say that our participants of the discussion now have at least one thing in common – and that is their gender.

So I hope we will have a respectful discussion. Because that is what we try to do with the Colloquium to create respectful discussion and conversation settings where people can meet and talk. So I would beg you to talk as if to friends who have different opinions.

So, first I would like to introduce yourself to the people who are watching this video now and later. And yes I am looking forward to what we are discussing.
Maybe we start with Mr. Axel Voss, please.

[Axel Voss]

So thanks a lot.

[ sound recording missing]

[Sabria David]
Thank you, Mr. Axel Voss.
Now Alek, would you like to introduce yourself – and also why you are connected to the topic of copyright?

[Alek Tarkowski]

Okay thank you also.
So my name is Alek Tarkowski. I’m the president of a Polish foundation called Centrum Cyfrowe. We’re a digital think tank that […] we are working on issues related to openness and participation and engagement. I am also an affiliate with Communia which is an European Association digital public domain which has been involved in the whole Copyright reform process. Finally for the last fifteen years I have been member of Creative Commons, which is an international network of organisations and individuals looking for flexible solutions to user rights but also for the right of creators, to find other ways for sharing contents.
I also have a deep interest in how European Copyright law and Copyright system is build and how we can use it for further mutual but varied perspectives and goals.

[Sabria David]
Okay thank you Alek. Now Bozhidar, would you like to present yourself?

[Bozhidar Bozhanov]
Yes, thank you. And thanks for the invitation. I’m a software engineer and architect, currently a digital entrepreneur. I was previously advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria.
And also I’m quite interested and I am following the Copyright debate for a while now and I’m generally a transparency and openness advocate and have been to many conferences in Europe.

[Sabria David]

Okay thank you. So let’s start the discussion.

I think it’s important not to look back too much, what has happened or what should have happened otherwise or not. […] Let’s just look forward and see what will happen from now. Maybe we start with the process. Mr. Axel Voss. Would you like to explain: What are the next steps with the Trilogue now? Where are the points where people with other perspectives could involve themselves and their perspective?

[Axel Voss]
So. Now we have reached the level of legislative process where we are starting now the so-called Trilogue. And this is now the negotiation with the Council and their common an approach on this and also the Commission what they have proposed and our text now from the European Parliament.
This may change everything again, but of course because of the process in the Parliament, I’m more than less obliged to what we have decided now in the Parliament last week. And because the mandate was before the summertime has been rejected.
Because of a massive campaigning against upload filtering, censorship machines and everything like this.

And now we have reached the proposal or common position of the European Parliament where we are saying – so we are not mentioning these measures any longer, because it seems quite hard to get the majority if they are inside the text. That’s why we are just saying but clearly: “The platforms have a responsibility or liability for these.”.
And this is creating now again practical problems, what we have had from the beginning already. [..] So we like to continue or to start with these negotiations as soon as possible and we hope we can have or can come to an end of the week negotiation. [..].

[[Break and restart of the conversation due to technical constraints]]

[Sabria David]
Mr. Axel Voss, I would beg to explain what the next steps are in the future process of Copyright directive. How will this go on with the Trilogue with the different opinions and institutions … and how can they maybe include their perspectives?

[Axel Voss]
Thanks for the question. So we achieved last week in the European Parliament a common position of the Parliament.
And now we have to compare and to negotiate with Council and Commission the next hopefully only 3 months for coming up with a common position of a European legislator.

And Therefore of course we have to look at the common position of the Council and the proposal of the Commission and at the common position of the Parliament and then we are trying to find one final wording for all what is now at stake and on the table. And that’s why we’re trying to achieve this till the mid of December and then hopefully coming to plenary in February. So this is the idea. I know we haven’t achieved our deadlines before but I hope we can achieve this now.
So, from the content of course we will have some difficulties. If I am looking to article 11, we have the Commission Proposal with a very strict right on this and we have on the other side the very wide exception from the Council and we have in the middle somehow the Parliament. And now we have to find a way.
If we are coming to Article 13 we can’t ignore what has happened before the summertime. This because – I would say – the internet community was misleaded by the big platforms and saying, oh, we are destroying the internet and censorship machines and upload filters and blablabla.
And so at first probably I should and I will explain: Nobody is interested in destroying the internet. Nobody is interested in filtering and in blocking and in censorship machines – but we have to find a way how we can assure that Copyright is still legal text and existing law, how we can transfer this in the internet world. And especially to those business models who are saying to the users: “Please upload your content whatever you would like to have”.
And of course we have seen massively copyright infringements and that’s why we are thinking as a European legislator: It’s now time to try to bring the copyright holders on eye level to the platforms. And to make sure that this massively infringing of copyright is no longer possible in such an extent.

And so of course we won’t achieve 100 % here and 100 % from the other side – this won’t be possible. But we have to be sure – and this is what we are asking for as a Parliament – is nothing less and nothing more that what already is existing should be respected also by the business models in the internet. And also the interpretation of the Courts who are saying “active copyright infringing platforms are liable”. And this is what we are just saying very clearly.

And so of course then we have to consider how can they practically manage the liability in a way that they can also – [that] they are not liable for everything what is uploaded on these platforms. But so far the campaign before the summer break has been just on this upload filtering.

What we have done now, as a Parliament, is: We are not taking this on board any longer. But we are still saying very clearly: Platforms, copyright infringing platforms, are liable. And what we are trying now to initiate is a kind of a dialogue under the leadership of the Commission and the Member States if they want to, and trying to find practical solutions for managing this liability of these internet platforms. And therefore we need the Stakeholders – so the right holders on the one hand side and the platforms on the other hand side. And so far the platforms have been very quiet and misleading the whole discussion in one direction. Where we – because of the majority and the public – we are now coming to a solution and saying we don’t take this on board any longer. And even if we are coming to all this content ID systems we have to be aware that this is existing already and that this is not destroying the internet and this has not lead to an outcry already in such a way.

[Sabria David]
Ok. Thank you.
I think maybe it’s not a question of whether it is intended to destroy the internet. I think the controversies are whether this could lead to this [without being intended].

Maybe, Bozhidar Bozhanov, you have an alternative to what is or is not a upload filter. Would you like to explain your approach towards the problems – that I think all sides see. Every side knows we have to [catch/fix] copyright and we have to save remunerations for creatives. So what is your proposition, Bozhidar?

[Bozhidar Bozhanov]
Well, thank you. My proposal was a more technical one. And the feasibility of it has to be assessed, because can’t be sure by just having an idea around whether it is feasible or not. But it was about the platforms mandatorily providing API. That is a technical term. To all [] right holders, where they could themselves assess which is infringing content and which is not. So in a way to automate the notice and take-down procedures. This wouldn’t be effectively be an upload filter, as the community has feared. Because it will not be taken before it is actually uploaded or it appears. But still the right holder would have the option to inspect themselves without relying on the platforms to do the content recognition.

This would solve also some other types of problems, for example currently not all the platforms have all the content available to match it to uploaded works. Yes, YouTube, Spotify have all the works available, so they can match the content recognition. But smaller ones and competitors, let’s say, don’t. And right holders don’t often provide them with that content. So even if they wanted to, they wouldn’t be able to do the filtering or the content recognition trying to evade this liability.
This was in a nutshell the proposal. It has to be very well assessed. But this is actually my concerning question, because currently a text has been adopted which indeed has dropped some of the more controversial words. But shouldn’t we have the technical at least idea how to approach that problem, before putting things in legislation? I mean if we are now further on going to discuss how this is going to be implemented: Isn’t it a bit – shouldn’t the process not be the other way round? Shouldn’t we not first have an idea how we can practically implement that, in practical terms, and as Mr. Voss rightfully said, before doing the legislative process rather than legislating and than figuring out how we can actually do it?

[Sabria David]
Okay, thank you, Bozhidar.
Maybe the is also question whether we have the technical solutions before uploading or after uploading. That seems to be a question. And also what happens with the digital space and who decides what can become visible and not.
Alek, do you have from your point of perspective, Alek Tarkowski, something to add?

[Alek Tarkowski]
[..] I would like to make three points. The first is a general one and I am happy to focus our discussion for instance on article 13. But let’s remember, the directive has 20 articles and has concerned many other issues. And the part that’s – for us at Communia – really important, user rights is expressed with the exceptions and limitations.
Thankfully on one hand this has not been an issue that antagonizes people. This is an issue that seems, it’s easier to reach compromise. But nevertheless in the final vote, several ideas for exceptions, which seem to be extremely controversial like freedom of Panorama which has been, discussed for years promoted by Civil Society for instance the shape of […wiki] media committee it was simply struck down. And this is what troubles me[an], I think we should have this broader conversation. Why if you look at the vote across the vote,
things that moved forward the idea of flexibility, exceptions, users rights were not adopted and things that strengthen copyright were adopted.

For this reason I think it’s slowly hard to use the term balance, it’s been the goal of the commission to find the balance. I think everyone finds the balance in a different point and personally I think it’s maybe a better idea to think of the vision behind the copyright reform.
The way I see it right now the reform very strongly simply is a vote in favour of strengthening the creative sector in Europe. And I think we just need to acknowledge it. This is what
in my opinion the Parliament said: We are supporting the creative sector.

But to make a more specific comment on the filters – indeed it could really help us to understand what is the technical solution, that will fit to the legal solution. There seems to be something missing there.
I’m very happy we’re no longer talking about filters. I think this proves that sort of, the Civil Society, the citizen’s voices were important. Because they did make a difference, because we were talking about the filters. The language on technical measures was present there, it’s not present anymore. So from my perspective we sort of agreed to move away from that. But the question is: So what do we put there in the return?

And maybe this is the discussion we need to have. Because I think a lot of people need to be assured “Yes this will not be filtered”. I would like to point out that I agree that a lot has changed with regard to platforms over the almost 20 years since the [former rose] are 15 years were adopted.
But at the same time and it’s a good idea to ask a question how did I become liable, but it’s also question aren’t we privatizing how Copyright is enforced, and is it a good idea when in effect we will be putting power in the hands of the platforms?
The way I see it right now a lot will depend on how platforms negotiate issues with the right holders. And this is my final point. Mr. Voss has said there are sort of two sides: the platforms and the right holders.
I will insist there is a “third part” and these are “users”. Not commercial users, but individuals. You can also call them citizens and I’m very troubled by portraying them as people who are basically, only a force or some kind of a mob that can be misinformed, and then steered,
I believe the discussion and maybe we can discuss about it there’s a lot of things that are not good about the online debate we’ve been having. It is extremely polarized. I think on all sides. But I think we need to acknowledge that individuals do exist and they’re also organisations, I think Wikipedia is a very important one, that really in Europe and also in Germany where you are based his very strong. [They have] legitimacy I think to speak about this. [I was wondering whether I haven’t lost the connection but I think everything is fine]. Thank you.

[Sabria David]
Okay thanks a lot, Alek Tarkowski.
I think what you said is important. It’s an important point, an important aspect of misunderstandings that you didn’t talk of “campaigning”, you said: “the civil society was worried”. Maybe it would be good to see that in digital times there is not only “platforms” and “right holders” but there are also users, consumers and creators that are mixed. So there is a “third party”, as you said, Alek.
So I would like to ask all of you – and first you, Mr. Axel Voss: If we assume that there is a digital culture, a digital civic society beyond platforms, beyond economic interests, which I think we have to foster for a resilient digital society – so what can we all do to foster digital culture beyond economic interests. I think that is also what every side wants, that it’s not only driven by economic interests, but also of common good. Mr. Voss.

[Axel Voss]
[…] At first: Cooperation from every side would be wonderful. And I mean this not in threatening and blaming and shaming and whatever it is, and what I experience now a lot. Cooperation hasn’t been there so far – from my point of view – […] the legislative term and all the deadlines we have. I am forced to present again and again something. If I experience only the situation that this can’t be the case and we don’t like this and this not – this I don’t consider as a kind of cooperation.

We have a problem here and everyone has to be aware that is will not be having 100 %. The right holders not, the platforms not. The user. And therefore we have to exchange views, we have to come forward with the legal text. And that is why we are doing this. But now I am facing only a situation where the campaign starts and not … solutions.
So at first: The user of this reform isn’t affected at all. He can do everything. We are even taking away the liability of the user in uploading copyright protected works and transferring this to the platforms. For the first time. If we are looking concrete to the copyright law so far the user who is infringing the copyright is liable. And this is what we are doing, a kind of a gift for the user and saying: If you are uploading copyright protected works to a platform who is active and more then less communicating to the public. They will be liable and when there is a license then the liability is also covered.

So the user isn’t at all affected. But when we are coming to the practical problems, and we are facing this the so called “memes” or … changing of original copyright protected works. Yes, we are coming here to a problem and, again, we won’t achieve 100% solution for everyone. So that we have to start with something and say, yes, copyright now under pressure, has to be on eye level, somehow, with the digital world. Then once again, ignoring this problem and saying we don’t like what is now in place and what we are thinking about – this is not leading to a solution. And therefore I am asking myself, even Mr. Wales from Wikipedia, then before the summertime, closed his websites and said we don’t want all this filtering. But was more than less excluded of all this, of article 13. And this is what I am saying, this is misleading the information in the public. And then, of course, I was very in favour of this. [but still we have a problem, I have to think about in the summertime. Then I don’t know if he [Mr. Wales] has tried, but there so far there in no, not one idea in coming forward for solving that problem.

And that’s why we have to find solutions somewhere, on a legal way. And if nobody is coming up with the proper solution and only naming everything what my fear kind of a technical solution in interpretating this is a filter, this is upload blocker, this is a kind of censorship machine, then we won’t achieve a perfect result in the end if everyone is just going to the public and saying no, no no.

Therefore I’m asking for Solutions. We are open for Solutions. And if you are the experts then you are very much welcome, in coming forward. But it’s not an option in saying we are kicking out Copyright law. The whole Copyright. This is not what the legislature is intending.
What you’re asking for is please respect the right of the right holders. That’s what we’re doing. How is this interpreted by the law.

An now I come to the subject has was mentioned, freedom of panorama. Yes, I am totally convinced, in this digital world we should have common rules on everything that might be affected in digital [..]. But [..] Member States. They are defending in this sector their traditions, their national laws, till the end. So if we are coming now to freedom of panorama and trying to regulate this on an European level – if you are looking to the political reality, with the Member States, they won’t go for this. And that’s why we are saying if we are again coming out with a kind of solution on freedom of panorama, but failing with the Council on this, then we have another reason, it’s then not only 7, it’s not only 13, it’s not only 3, it’s not only 14, not only 12, so these are articles, who are creating a kind of enemies of all the legislative process. Then we would have also a kind of a other part of the political legislator who would not be in favour of this. We have… if we take everything on board which might be a wise solution, because the other side won’t have [..] insisting on their national traditions. And this can of course be criticized, that they are not open enough for the digital […]

[Sabria David]
Okay thank you, Mr. Axel Voss. I am glad to hear that digital civic society institutions are invited to find a solution for everyone. And I appreciate this. [..]
I wanted to ask you, Alek and Bozhidar: How can we make this, if we don’t make it like suggested or if you want to have changes. Please, Bozhidar.

[Bozhidar Bozhanov]
Yes thank you. I just want to add some more points before going to your question directly. First, as we see them from this conversation, technical difficulties are something that we should not ignore. And that’s it. Even current technology did the content ID that that YouTube is providing it’s very far from perfect. It has a lot of false positives. It has a lot of exceptions and limitations, that can’t take into account in more other reasons because they’re not unified in Europe. Different countries have different directions and limitations. Maybe a future Copyright reform could unify also those, but then again, Mr. Voss is very right that each country has its own tradition and culture etc. And here I want to make a very important point that I believe that the MEPs and Mr. Voss himself are not trying to sabotage internet. We are sure that you have good intentions.
The thing is that the devil is in the detail. And some seemingly small changes due to a legal text could lead to a butterfly effect of [swords] and this is why we have indeed to discuss how exactly this is going to be achieved.
But I would like to have a clear solution, as you said, before this even goes to a Trialogue, before this goes to the final plenary. Because otherwise we’ll vote something, but then the courts will have to interpret with the current technological prospective how this is going to work. And how with the current technology which is available it is going to work, is – I think – that the platforms will just make their algorithms even stricter. And they will not just ban uploads for… so the other day Sony claimed ownership of Bach pieces because a pianist had played them. And I know there are a lot of these examples they might be a small percentage, they might be a big percentage and this leads me to the next question:
What is the data available currently actually based his [informal]. Because you mentioned that there is a massive Copyright infringement from the platforms. How massive is it?
What is the loss of the of the Copyright industry?
Do these money actually exist? Is that should have been more fundamental question for the internet economy in general. We could shift the balance a little bit towards Copyright, I would be fine with that, but do this money these money exist? Can you pay for that with advertising money? Spotify for example, a European company, is operating loss. This could be because of many reasons but if they have to pay even more to artists can they stay afloat.

Maybe the internet) with video streaming and audio stream is broken entirely, we don’t know, but: have all these things being taken into account or we’re just trying to go through a very indeed complicated European legislative process – and here I again agree with Mr. Voss – that it is not that trivial naming people and blaming them doesn’t help, because the legislative process in Europe is very democratic and very complicated of that reason.

But all of these things, the data, the current technical measures, the opinion of all sides – at least from what I have seen – hasn’t been taken into account and hasn’t been included in what the Commission initially was and then was discussed in Parliament.
And then back to the particular solutions: No single person obviously can give you a perfect solution. I actually tried before the July vote, I emailed my article to all of the MEPs. I got replies from three of them I believe. So I’m absolutely open to discussing the practical solution. We should sit on the same table with the platforms, ask them would this or that solution work for you. Ask the Copyright industry would you be able to support some additional infrastructure to handle the for example content recognition yourself.
Or you want that be outsourced to the big platforms. All of these things all these variables and parameters we should take into account. And I think we should take them into account before going to a final plenary, because that would mean we are possibly creating chaos. Possibly courts will resolve things and things will fall into place, but that we’re introducing a next set of risks. Thank you.

[Sabria David]
Okay thank you, Bozhidar B. How do you see that, Alek? What is your point of view?

[Alek Tarkowski]
I would I would like to follow up on Bozhidar’s comment about the need to discuss solutions and would like for a second to step away from the reality of the political process which of course I acknowledge. I acknowledge how the EU Parliament process works. But if you think about assertive an objective terms you had the moment where there was one week so five working days in which the MEPs presented a really a range of solutions. And by the way here I’m a bit surprised, Mr. Voss, that you speak only about criticism because actually in article 13 there was a range of alternatives. But so we have these solutions and there was something [akin] to what Mr. Bozhidar suggested the idea of an API direct access which would maybe simplify some things. There was an idea to use other legal Solutions than those that prescribe sort of this idea potentially content filtering.
And you know there was really no, I couldn’t see, any on substance debate on it. I think everyone would agree, this requires some kind of – let’s say – colloquium or conference or opinion by experts and instead was the several base and political debate – and vote.

So may do be we need some process I don’t know alongside where this happens. But I’m a social scientist so I see two social issues here.
One issue is with the representation of users. I think we need to acknowledge that it’s very hard to ask the question, to answer the question “who represents users?”. You know there is no association of internet users, and I think maybe this is the reason why it feels like the users are not there or maybe they are misrepresented. I think in the long-term we need to find a way to bring these users to the table and of course they cannot come as a block of emails sent from home. We need to find a way to put them in this discussion, because otherwise we’ll be platforms and creator stocking, and users will be somewhere on this side at worst sending angry tweets.

And that relates the second point. I think we will all agree that there was a lot of confusion around the participation of Citizens in this legislative process. Basically the only simple means available let’s simplify to an email, it can also be a telephone. We have seen in radical cases was compared to denial-of-service attacks. And that I think is you know not wanting to have deliberation, but we will acknowledge there’s some problem with you if email boxes are flooded by emails.
[To me to suggest] This process itself is broken. We need to look for some solutions where Citizens and MEPs have a conversation that doesn’t flood mailboxes, doesn’t lead to suggestions this is automated. I think there’s a lot of tools today, proved identity, to create deliberation online and interesting things. Even the EU is developing for instance in its Horizon 20/20 program, [that if only we applied the political did the participatory process ] maybe we will have more deliberation of this sort we’re having now, instead of angry retweets which don’t help.

[Sabria David]
Thank you that is an interesting point. How can we include digital Civic Society, also called “users” or “creators online” or “meme-writers”. How can we include digital Civic Society in the process of solution finding. That would be one question – which I hand over first to Mr. Axel Voss – and also maybe the question “Who decides”, “Who owns public digital space”. Who do we want to decide what is a visible? Please.

[Axel Voss]
So first I would like to remind everyone that we are two years already dealing with this reform of the copyright. And coming up in the very last minute and saying all this is only upload filtering and we don’t like, is not the right way [to] participate in a kind of legislative process.

So, then once again, this is a question of business model and of Copyright holders. Of course the user might be affected if we’re coming to this memes that their contribution and their upload might be affected by one of these measures. But the interest or the question legally speaking the legitimacy of a meme has nothing to with a kind of more practical question how we can make sure that technical solutions might also recognize an exception, legitimated created, and then be uploaded. [..]

Of course they can, if they are interested, they can do, they have a lot of NGOs running around in Brussels and have the freedom of contacting every single members and bring forward their ideas. There is the possibility. I don’t know why it seems so that we have hindered the users to participate in this process. This is not the case.

And I am not sure if everyone is aware that we have different interests of all theses different branches of Copyright. So the audiovisual industry and the audio books, they decided, that their property shouldn’t go all to a platform. And how you will make sure that this from the beginning this is not the case? So they decided – because they own these right – we would like to distribute films and books or audio books in a different way – and there should’t be a way in uploading this things.

And would you consider this is a kind of old fashioned law? And saying, oh no you are not the right holder or [..] this is not your property any longer? Because I can upload this to a platform? Or would you consider, No, he is the owner, he is the right holder, and he has the right to decide this shouldn’t be uploaded. And then you are coming with a business model and saying to your users “You can upload whatever you like to”? But if there is someone else and saying “No, I don’t want to be my content uploaded to a platform” – should this be ignored just because the possibility of other distributions is there?

So then we are coming to this process of “notice and take down”. If we are extending the E-Commerce directive – and the proposal has been on the table – to a kind of “notice and stay down”. At first we have again “filters” at the end. And secondly we would implement legally a kind of a Copyright infringement for the first upload, and then saying “oh” and have nothing for damaging or compensation or whatever? So again you have to go to Court and interpret and all this.

What we have tried, and I am not sure if everyone is aware of all this, in Article 2 with this definition – and it may be improved, and I am very open in improving this. But we have a definition of all platforms who might be affected by article 13. And from my personal impression this affects only a few, so 1% of the internet platforms or whatever. What the campaigning is doing is saying, every platform in the internet will be affected. So not even small platforms now are affected any longer. We took out micro and small business. We are just concentrating on big platforms who have significant protected works on their platforms.

And then I am asking myself, why even these platforms should not be liable? The Courts already decide this in a way by saying “Active platforms who are infringing Copyright are liable”. And this is nothing more than we are asking for. Narrowing down the definition, the platforms who might be affected by article 13 is already, this what we have done in Article 2. And then I am asking myself – if we are singling out these active platforms, why we don’t have a liabilitiy in place where they have to licence theses Copyright protected works?

They know that their business model is created like this that copyright protected works can be uploaded. And then I am asking myself why should they think they are not be liable? […] Why we would extend the infringing of Copyright also for active platforms. I can’t see a reason for this. This would create a kind of a loophole for Copyright. And that’s why we are looking for this solutions.

If you have a wonderful idea for this definition in Article 2, you are very welcome to send this to me. But the liability for active platforms should be not in question.

[Sabria David]
Thank you, okay. So maybe, Bozhidar, you have a replay to that. Who own public space? Who decides?

[Bozhidar Bozhanov]

[Axel Voss]
So first we have already laws in place who are giving rights to specific situations. So you can’t now socialize everything just because it’s the internet. We have to have rules. We have rules in place. [..] What you are owning something in the offline world, is this still the same in the online world. If we have values, then we are asking are our values are still correct? So if you would like to change the definition of property, then we are coming in another problem, in another situation. I am not sure, this is also a question now: Is the definition of property still acceptable in a digital world? We have this law and the right for everyone already in place. So. Then we have to discuss is copyright still a kind of a modern piece of legislation?

[Sabria David]
Thanks. No, this was a misunderstanding. I didn’t mean that Copyright holders are not copyright holders when they go in the internet. It was: Who decides what is uploaded or not? That was what I was meaning. Because if a platform decides what is potentially Copyright infringing or not – and they put it down, so they decide after economic interests and not whether the public digital space [..] or not. Bozhidar, please. Bulgaria calling.

[Bozhidar Bozhanov]
I think the question of liability is indeed a very good at the complex core of the issue. Because: Yes, obviously if you’re infringing copyright you should be liable. However, because of the huge volume of uploads that the platforms are facing, obviously they cannot manually monitor all of these uploads. They have basically two options: One is automate that process to algorithms to content recognition through all of these things. Or: disallow users from uploading content, because that would make them liable without them knowing that it has happened.

There could possibly be a middle ground between these two streams and I think this is what you’re trying to find. But if we set it to 100%, you should be liable for anything to get that appears there even though if you didn’t have the technical opportunities to even know that is there – which is the premise of e-commerce directive – then platforms might end up just shutting down uploads from unidentified users. Having just trusted users. Which is an approach. I mean we give the […] regulation in the EU by which you can prove your identity online, so European uploaders could the forced to proof their identity to YouTube. Whether that’s a good idea or not, I don’t have an opinion.
But then again I want to focus on transparency again. Because I don’t think we have enough data and from what I’ve heard, from Google [I read] – it is still that 98% of right holders choose not to have their content removed. They just choose [to] monetize, to get the money that the video has generated. So if [..] this is a correct figure, which we don’t know. But if it’s the right figure – are we solving the right problem? Don’t we just want to legislate that the right holders should get all the money that the piece had generated even prior to it being recognized as owned by them?
So someone uploads a video. The platforms would hold the money or something, for a certain period. Then it gets recognized as Copyright infringing. And then the right holder gets all the money even prior to the work being recognized as infringing. And that’s an option. But we need more data for that.
I think what we first and foremost do, is impose more transparency on the platforms.
Because they can report some data right now – if they wish, some might not – and we don’t have an informed debate and decisions, if we don’t have enough data from them and from the right holders.

I think it could have been even a two-step reform. First regulate transparency, then make decisions, then regulate the liability. Obviously it’s a very complicated process and we can’t quickly get through that. But it’s a thing to think about. And finally some very provocative thing that I’ve heard yesterday from a libertarian friend – and I don’t necessarily agree with that – but he said: Well, copyrighted work are not scarce. So are they real property, if there is no scarcity? I am not saying I agree with that. Just a philosophical point that we could think about.

[Sabria David]
Okay thank you. So back to Poland. Please, Alek.

[Alek Tarkowski]
I would like to address the issue of public space, because that really interests me. So apologies I will not continue this discussion about liability, though I find it important. And I just wanted to mention, thank you indeed, Mr. Voss, for this work on the delimiting the definition. I think it is very important. For example the limitations for the commercial platforms which is now in your version very clear. I think it’s an important step.
But this will bring me to an issue related to Wikipedia and public space. I really think, we are not in agreement whether this is a discussion about public space or not. And I don’t mean it (I know this can be […] we are saying creators don’t care about public space. I’m not saying that. I know they care).

But I think for part of the actors in the discussion this is a discussion about basically market issue, economies of content creation. And for parts of the debate it’s an issue about their public sphere, their user rights. And I hear a lot of comments from… I talk to creators, they say “Really this is not the debate for you, this is not for Citizens. Just let us regulate our deal with platforms”. And I say: “Of course you should get a better deal with platforms.” But I really think for some actors this is a discussion about how we create the content circulation. And if we don’t somehow solve this issue, if we don’t agree with what Copyright is, I think we’ll continue to misunderstand each other. I think this will be a problem and this is where Wikipedia comes in.

I read this article and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung where it was said, you know when German automotive regulator puts a fine on Volkswagen, it’s very strange for BMW officials to speak up with outrage.

And the author compared this with Wikipedia speaking up on regulations that doesn’t affect them. But that’s the difference between Market regulation, where indeed Market actors work in their own partism interest, and regulation of public sphere where I understand Wikimedia Committee is simply speaking on behalf of public interest. And then you don’t need to be directly affected as an entity by regulation, to be able to say something. I don’t want to judge this. I just mainly want to point that I think there’s the some fundamental lack of shared perspectives yet. And maybe that’s something we need to work on tomorrow.

[Sabria David]
Okay thank you thanks a lot, Alek. That was a kind of a “Schlusswort”, a final statement.

Because indeed it is really important: Who speaks for the digital Civic Society? And as result of this colloquium – which has been very respectful, I think, and shows that we all want “good” things – is that maybe it will be tried to include digital Civic Society into the decisions and also in the debates. And what I also have is that I think the point of “demonetization” is also very important. Maybe this would be the subject of our next video colloquium.
But not now. Unfortunately we don’t have more time. We all have to work, because all of us also has to work. So also what is an important point of today is “Do not ignore technical problems”. Be aware of this.

My last question to you all is:
If you had a wish for an ideal Digital Society – what would it look like?
Your favourite ideal Digital Society where everything – where we don’t have negotiations processes, we ignore all things, all steps -… How would your vision be of a good resilient ideal Digital Society?
Axel Voss, please.

[Axel Voss]
So spontaneously I would say everyone also in the digital world should respect the right of others. This would be ideal for me.

[Sabria David]
Okay, thank you. And Bozhidar Bozhanov from Bulgaria, what would your wish and your ideal digital society be?

[Bozhidar Bozhanov]
Open and transparent. Because otherwise there are many risks that end up in these [partisan] and strange discussions because of lack of transparency and openness within the whole space.

[Sabria David]
Okay thanks. And Alek Tarkowski, what is your vision?

[Alek Tarkowski]

I would say one that looks less or a lot less than a giant commercial online platform and a lot more like Wikipedia. Which you could see is really my point of reference for a lot of thinking. I know there are a lot of challenges. But still. Because it’s co-created, you know, because it’s a commons. I think we need that.


[Sabria David]
Yes, also. I thank you a lot. A co-created, good, digital society from all civic people, that would be a good thing. A great vision.

I thank you really a lot and I’m looking forward to going on with the discussion. We see that it’s really easy to talk to each other. So. Let’s go on with it.
Thanks a lot to all your countries.
Bye. Bye.

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