Public Knowledge Urges European Institutions to Preserve Free Expression Online

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This week, Public Knowledge joined more than 25 consumer advocacy and civil rights groups in a letter to the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the European Council urging these institutions to amend the Copyright Directive proposal.

Specifically, the groups, which span both Europe and the United States, call for European institutions to reject the Directive’s Article 13, which proposes to weaken intermediary liability and require companies to use automated upload filtering technologies. Public Knowledge believes that content filtering systems tend to unfairly and unnecessarily restrict fair use and limit free expression online.

The following can be attributed to Gus Rossi, Global Policy Director at Public Knowledge:

“The European Commission's proposal for a Copyright Directive is a threat to a freedom of expression online for three main reasons. First, it requires internet companies to install filtering technology to prevent the upload of copyrighted content, even when there are perfectly legal uses for copyrighted content -- such as much needed political satire or debate. Second, it largely eliminates the Safe Harbor provisions for internet intermediaries, making them liable for user-generated content. Third, it doesn’t establish a robust and realistic mechanism for protecting users from the possibly unfair deletions of their creations resulting from the filtering and censorship encouragement.

“Given the economic and political relevance of the European Union, it is fundamental that the European Parliament and the European Council amend the Copyright Directive proposal and save freedom of expression online. Many countries take European legislation as a gold standard, and companies might prefer to simply comply with European law for their global operations. We urge Therese Comodini Cachia, Member of the European Parliament leading the Eurochamber’s amendments to the Commission's proposal, to ensure that European copyright legislation represents the interests of the people in Europe and abroad -- and not just profit-maximizing and short-sighted copyright holders.”

You may view the letter here.

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