European authors have made a petition to remove article 12 from the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The petition has been signed by authors’ associations from nine different countries: Czech Republic, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Malta, Norway and Sweden.
The article 12, which concerns the publishers’ right for compensation, is against the basic principles of copyright, and threatens the contractual freedom and livelihood of authors. Instead of improving the conditions of European digital single market, the passing of the article would cause serious market disturbances in several countries.
The article 12 should not be passed, because
It is against the basic principles of copyright
The basic principle of copyright is that the author of a work is always a natural person, i.e. a human being. Creating rights to publishers directly through legislation would be contrary to the basic principles of copyright – the individual author has the right to decide which rights to grant. Publishers get all the rights they need through the contracts between the author and the publisher.
It limits contractual freedom in an unprecedented way
The weaker contractual position of authors is widely recognized and accepted. The proposed article 12 would further weaken the position of authors in relation to publishers. Limiting contractual freedom by legislative measures to the detriment of the weaker party is not acceptable. On the contrary, the duty of the legislators is to protect the weaker party.
It would weaken the livelihood of authors
In several countries the copyright remunerations for authors, among them the public lending remuneration, enable them to continue doing creative work. Dividing the remunerations with the publishers would seriously weaken the possibilities of authors to continue in their chosen profession. In Nordic and Baltic countries – as well as in many other European countries – the public lending remuneration has always been a compensation solely aimed for the creators of works.
It causes disturbances in the book markets and causes friction between authors and publishers
The article is hastily drafted and its impacts on the book market and the livelihood of the authors are not suffciently studied and assessed. Instead of improving the working of the single digital market, it would cause market disturbances and weaken the publishers’ business opportunities as at least some authors would become self-publishers.
It is terminologically unclear and intrinsically contradictory
If passed, the article would create a legally unclear situation. Additionally, the articles of the proposed directive are contradictory and their impact scattershot.
It is very difficult to implement
The passing of the article would cause several practical problems and heavy administrative costs. Before distributing the remunerations, each individual work would have to be checked to nd out to whom the compensation should be given and how it should be divided.
It is problematic in the light of the basic principles of the European Union
Article 12 is problematic in the light of the principle of subsidiarity, and it should be taken into account that, according to the European Union treaties, the Union’s role in cultural issues is only to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the member states. The public lending remunerations are an issue of cultural politics in all the countries supporting this petition.
It may have undesirable effects to the ways use of literature will be remunerated in the future
As it is impossible to foresee the ways literature will be used in the future, the undesirable effects of the compensation for publishers prescribed in the Article 12 have to be taken into account.
Any organization willing to join the petition may contact Sanasto – Finnish Literary Copyright Society: info(at)sanasto.fi
Edited on Oct 23: New signees have joined the petition: Italian Writers’ Federation (Federazione Unitaria Italiana Scrittori) and The Swedish Association of Professional Photographers. The Petition (pdf) is updated, but you might need to refresh your web browser to see the latest version.
Edited on Oct 30: Writers’ Guild of Sweden has joined the petition.
Edited on Nov 2: The Association of Catalan Language Writers and The Maltese Language Academy have joined the petition.
Edited on Nov 6: Writers’ Union of Cyprus, Hellenic Authors’ Society and KLYS – The Swedish Joint Committee for Artistic and Literary Professionals have joined the petition.
Edited on Nov 8: Croatian Literary Translators’ Association and Croatian Writers Society have joined the petition.
Edited on Nov 13: Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators has joined the petition.
Edited on Nov 16.: Hungarian Literary Authors’ Collecting Society has joined the petition.
Edited on Nov 21: Slovenian Association of Literary Translators has joined the petition.
Edited on Nov 27: Basque Writers’ Association has joined the petition.
Edited on Nov 28: ACE – Association College of Writers (Spain) has joined the petition.
Edited on Dec 14: Freischreiber – German Association of Freelance Journalists has joined the petition.
Edited on Jan 27, 2018: Association of Polish Writers and Slovene Writers’ Association have joined the petition.
Edited on Feb 5: The Writers’ Union of Romania with its Literary Translators’ branch has joined the petition.
Edited on Mar 1: Freelens e.V. – German Association of Freelance Photographers has joined the petition.