The EU needs to modernise online copyright


Digital & Data Governance

Picture of Marietje Schaake
Marietje Schaake

President of the CyberPeaceInstitute, Director of Policy at the Stanford Cyber Policy Centre, former vice- chair of the European parliament delegation for relations with the United States and Trustee of Friends of Europe

The last 20 years have seen the Internet and information technologies become an essential part of our daily lives, the way we conduct our business, educate our children, experience culture and engage politically. It is now nearly impossible to imagine a world in which we are not connected.

This global interconnectedness has been a catalyst of freedom of expression and information on a global scale, but the ease of copying and sharing information has at the same time challenged existing industries whose business models are based on copyright.

Established industries like the music business, film companies and traditional publishers have by and large responded to the disruptive impact of the Internet by pushing for strict enforcement of copyright law, rather than by adapting to the new digital reality. But the laws they want to see so vigorously enforced mostly stem from the pre-Internet era. As a result, strict enforcement in the digital age risks undermining fundamental rights when it involves deep packet inspection or disproportionate blocking of websites. At the same time, enforcement by private actors such as internet service providers risks by-passing judicial oversight.

As politicians, we MEPs are not in the business of protecting vested business interests at the expense of fundamental rights and freedoms. Modernising our copyright laws for the digital era would lead to a win-win outcome. The opportunities for easier access to culture and knowledge with the help of digital technologies will benefit creators, internet users, consumers, SMEs and Europe’s competitive position in the world alike. We should therefore focus on protecting the public interest by defending digital freedoms and adapting EU copyright law to the digital age.

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