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Saving Codeshare in the Copyright Directive

05 September 2018

Author: Astor Nummelin Carlberg

As proponents of Openness, Open Forum Europe has provided constructive and timely input over the past several months into the raging debate swirling around the proposed revision of the EU’s Copyright Directive. Our core concern has been the ‘scope-creep’ of copyrighted content to include software. Indeed, our focus now is on the potential for article 13 to undermine collaborative open source software development on code sharing platforms (code repositories).

Awareness and understanding of what drives Software development in Europe today is deeply lacking among many policymakers. Misunderstandings of how software ecosystem operates/collaborates, about the pervasive use of Free and Open Source software licenses, and the power and mainstream commercial nature of Open Source Software was finally acknowledged and reflected in iteration seven of the EP’s lead committee draft in the form of an exclusion for “open source software developing platforms”.

What does this mean? While we are glad that the impacts on Open Source Software was lifted to the agendas of many policy makers, we cannot be satisfied with the approach and texts that have been presented by “Copyright maximalists” such as MEP Jean-Marie Cavada. Or for that matter in a handful of Member States who risk taking a too broad brush to this proposed reform.

Indeed, if possible inclusion of Software development was an unintended consequence, what other innovative technology or fundamental rights will be sacrificed in the process of implementing a “solution” that academic experts, civil society, old and new industry and users have deemed too dangerous?

Ahead of the vote next week in the European Parliament, OpenForum Europe has been working with increasing the awareness not only of policy makers in Brussels and the European Capitals, but also among the European Open Source Software developers who are the tip of the spear when it comes to achieving a smart and effective Digital Transformation.
Together with national coalitions of concerned developers, we have sent letters to several European governments (Italy, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain) ahead of possible trilogue discussions in mid-September in the hope that we can get timely closure and reassure millions of software developers that this directive is not aimed at them.