Annual Report 2021/Story: Coordinating around the Copyright Directive

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In this Story we are focusing on how we used the implementation process of the EU Copyright Directive to establish networks with important partners, connect our national and international advocacy efforts, and push for more exceptions and limitations to the copyright regime.

Copyright restrictions can seriously impede our work on the Wikimedia platforms, for example by limiting how photos of architecture and public art can be spread. A strong freedom of panorama is needed to document the world around us on Wikipedia.

During the last few years, our work around advocacy has revolved around the EU Copyright Directive. Several parts of the directive affect us directly, and other parts indirectly affect the free and open internet, which is essential for our platforms to thrive.

In October 2021, after a long delay, the Swedish Ministry of Legal Affairs finally released their ministry memorandum on how to implement the directive in Swedish law. We had taken part in the implementation process since 2019, and given our views and thoughts on several parts of the directive. During 2021, we also initiated a network of cultural heritage, education and free knowledge organizations and actors, to be able to coordinate our responses and try to push the narrative and conversation in the same direction.

Our goal in the work has been to be a reliable, constructive and concrete actor, towards both our partners and the ministry. This has resulted in a relatively high degree of influence: other partners have directly referred to or cited us in their formal feedback on the ministry memorandum, and officials from the ministry called us on several occasions to help understand our points of views. When the draft law is presented in early April of 2022, our hope is that we can build upon this position to influence the final legislation in the best direction.

In 2021, we also got the opportunity to scale this work to an international level. We got funding to work together with Wikimedia Deutschland, Communia, Centrum Cyfrowe, Intellectual Property Institute of Slovenia and the Italian DDA Studio Legale, on a European level, to push for an internationalization of the exceptions and limitations (E&Ls) to copyright proposed in the Copyright Directive, and especially the E&Ls relating to research and education. For us, this is both an important opportunity of learning how to work in international copyright environments, especially WIPO, and also how to bridge the work that we are doing nationally and internationally. As we are experimenting with an initiative of a content partnerships hub, where questions around copyright are completely at the core, we believe that this will be an important learning opportunity for Wikimedia Sverige.

Sweden is an interesting case in the international context, due to the prevalence of extended collective licenses. We will develop briefings on how to work to increase the amount of free knowledge in such an environment, and see how that relates to other copyright cultures globally. Copyright is increasingly international; our work is national and international at the same time. In 2021, we had the opportunity to bridge the national and international advocacy work that we are doing, and in 2022, we will deepen this work.