Re:Create Recap – September 15, 2016

Engine Announced As Newest Member Of Re:Create Coalition. Evan Engstrom, Executive Director of Engine, announced the group has joined the Re:Create Coalition in a Medium blog post this morning. Founded in 2011, Engine is a policy, advocacy, and research organization supporting startups as an engine for economic growth and is also known for being instrumental in the defeat of SOPA/PIPA in 2012. “[W]e have the potential to shape a future for copyright that respects the incredible creative potential of new technology. We are excited to work with the Re:Create Coalition to ensure that copyright promotes rather than hinders innovation and creativity,” said Engstrom.

Europe Unveils Controversial, Protectionist Copyright Proposal.
Media outlets are reporting on the EU’s announcement of a highly controversial plan to overhaul copyright law. The Hollywood Reporter notes, “Critics say it could do serious damage both to legacy media companies and internet upstarts,” as the plan aims to institute onerous and previously-failed protections such as ancillary copyright. Following the release of the proposal, the Re:Create Coalition issued a statement: “The Commission is working to implement a copyright regime that is simply out of touch with the rest of the world…Copyright laws should promote – not restrict – innovation and creativity in the digital economy.”

New Librarian Of Congress Sworn In Wednesday. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on Wednesday, assuming her new role as the head of the world’s largest library. As NBC News reports, Hayden enters the library at a critical point, amidst “a barrage of criticism for mismanagement and falling far behind in basic technological advances.” The first African American to take on the role, Hayden has been an active proponent for increased technological access in libraries and had the support of the Re:Create Coalition throughout the nomination process.

Copyright And The Eiffel Tower? How European Tourists Unintentionally Violate Copyright Law With Facebook Pics. Among the many hotly-debated components of the EU’s draft copyright plan is the concept of “freedom of panorama”–the right to take and publish pictures of public spaces. “Under current French law, it’s not illegal to snap a photo of the illuminated Eiffel Tower…But publishing that photograph or sharing it on Facebook or Instagram could potentially draw the attention of copyright lawyers,” writes Politico in the article Banned! Taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night. Similar copyright laws apply to photos of landmarks such as the Louvre, Denmark’s Little Mermaid Statue and Rome’s Colosseum. While individual countries struggle to fairly expand freedom of panorama, social media has introduced a “gray zone” over concepts of “publishing” and “owning” images. The Wikimedia Foundation and several Members of the European Parliament are currently fighting to ensure freedom of panorama is included in Europe’s sweeping copyright proposal.

Public Knowledge Reveals Widespread Bias In Copyright Office. Last week, Public Knowledge released the report, “Captured: Systemic Bias at the U.S. Copyright Office,” which examines the role of industry capture, the revolving door between the major entertainment industries and the Copyright Office, and the implications that capture has had on its policies. “To even begin to address the Copyright Office’s systemic problems, we must, as a nation, have a serious discussion about the Office’s relationship to industry, its accountability, and its intended role within the government,” said Meredith Rose, Policy Advocate at Public Knowledge. In a related blog post, Meredith Whipple explains “regulatory capture” and its consequences on the industry.

European Courts Continue Assault On Internet. On September 8, Europe’s top court ruled that hyperlinking to copyrighted material can be considered copyright infringement. Fortune notes the ruling is a rare instance of the court going against the advice of its top advisor, who warned “the everyday functioning of the Internet would be at risk.” “[T]he decision raises significant new questions about [internet businesses’] liability if the content turns out to be infringing,” said IP lawyer Joel Vertes. “Does that mean profiting from the individual link, or profiting from the website as a whole (e.g. advertising)?” The law will not penalize social media users. In European Copyright Ruling Ushers in New Dark Era for Hyperlinks, Jeremy Malcolm with the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains how this ruling is a “gift to copyright holders, who now have a vastly expanded array of targets against which to bring copyright infringement lawsuits.”