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When copyright was last reformed on an EU level, YouTube and Facebook didn't exist, smartphones were unheard of. Last winter, the European Commission finally started a public consultation aimed at identifying all the ways in which the current copyright regime has been outdated by technological developments. Through projects such as Copywrongs.eu, which was developed at a workshop at 30c3, activists took it upon themselves to open the consultation to a wider audience and ensure that end users were heard. The tools they developed for that purpose, published under free licences, were even picked up by collecting societies to mobilise their members for replying to the consultation. The resulting over 9000 responses, half of which came from end users, reveal a deep divide: Individuals, cultural institutions such as libraries and scientists are calling for Europe-wide reform, whereas rightsholders are trying to defend the status quo. But the answers also point at some surprising similarities in the views of some respondents that can lead to new alliances and a copyright reform that truly finds a balance between competing societal goals.
The new EU commission was tasked by their president to present a proposal for copyright reform within 4 months of 31c3. After years of debate, 2001's copyright directive is finally being revisited. Promisingly, the mandate for copyright legislation in the new Commission has been moved from a directorate concerned mostly with economic issues to the one for “Digital Society & Culture”. The last Commissioner responsible for this field, Neelie Kroes, ended her mandate with a passionate call for copyright reform, describing the current legal framework in the EU as "fragmented, inflexible, and often irrelevant".
But what can we expect from the responsible Commissioner Guenter Oettinger, who's clearly not a digital native, and who has to answer to Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, formerly a fervent supporter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement ACTA? I'll explain what the new structure of the Commission means for copyright reform, who the players are, the expected timeline, what we may hope to achieve and how you can help ensure an ambitious, progressive and user-friendly outcome. This talk is also a call for hackers to involve themselves in traditional arenas of policy-making and to become more political in their demands and activities.