Today the Working Group on text and data mining will be holding a second meeting in Brussels as part of the Licences for Europe “stakeholder dialogue”.
The aim of the Licences for Europe process, according to the European Commission is to ”seek to deliver rapid progress in bringing content online through practical industry-led solutions”.
We were invited to participate as part of Working Group 4 on text and data mining (while the other working groups were also relevant to the tech startups we work with, we were informed that these were full). We were the only representative in Working Group 4 of European based tech companies.
As widely reported the “stakeholder dialogue” has been restricted to discussing licensing models with any mention of alternative regulatory systems for copyright being promptly shut down. While some industries in attendance at the last meeting would be very happy to limit discussions to licensing models, and encouraged the moderator to do so, this ignores the reality of markets across the globe and does a grave disservice to both content and tech businesses based in the EU.
Following the last meeting we, along with other civil society representatives, wrote to Commissioners Barnier, Geoghegan-Quinn, Kroes and Vassilious asking them to ensure that future meetings would present a genuine opportunity for discussion and allow the conversations to reflect the views of all of industry, not just one.
Attendance at meetings where there is no possibility of a dialogue, is futile as part of a “stakeholder dialogue” process.Yesterday we wrote to the leaders of the Working Group on text and data mining indicating that until we receive clarification on the points addressed in the letter to Commissioners, we will not be attending future meetings for the Working Group.
The text of our communication to the working group organisers now follows
Dear …..After careful consideration Coadec has decided that we are unable to take part in further Working Group meetings until we receive clarification on the points outlined in the letter we co-signed to Commissioners Barnier, Geoghegan-Quinn, Kroes and Vassilious.….We are concerned that in the current format the Working Group does not present a genuine opportunity for a dialogue and would not result in any kind of a considered representative conclusion – particularly not one representative of EU based tech businesses as we were the only organisation representing these types of businesses involved in the discussions.I look forward to hopefully seeing you at a future meeting when a more open dialogue can take place.Sara Kelly, Executive Director of Coadec, The Coalition For A Digital EconomyCoadec represents UK tech startups on political issues
- Governments across Europe have recognised that encouraging the growth of tech startups is vital not only to getting Europe’s economy back on track, but ensuring we have a lasting ability to compete with tech companies coming from the US, Japan, and others.
- In the UK we have been considering copyright issues, including those around text and data mining for years, and the UK Government has come to the conclusion that an exception for text and data mining is necessary not only to foster academic study, but to foster growth in SMEs wanting to develop innovative technologies using text and data mining methods. These proposals have consistently been supported by extensive consultation and impact assessments.
- Text and data mining is actively being conducted in the US and Japan and in a fast moving innovative environment we are quickly losing the opportunity to develop these and future technologies within the EU.
- Startups conducting text and data mining, who Coadec works with, have told us that if they were required to obtain additional costly licences purely for this activity, they would and could extremely easily, locate or co-locate in an area where text and data mining is considered fair use, fair dealing, or covered by an exception. This would mean the EU loses an innovative business and EU content producers lose out on the content being licensed within the EU.
- We feel that constraining the discussions around text and data mining at EU level to only consider additional licensing for these activities is actively damaging the EU’s perception as a good place to start a tech business. Investment in startups is largely driven by Venture Capital and Angel investors rather than debt. This type of investment is very sensitive to current regulatory situations and ongoing policy discussions.
- By limiting these proceedings to purely licensing situations, and shutting down contributions that consider the legislative situation in other jurisdictions, we are doing EU technology businesses a disservice. We are actively encouraging tech businesses and investment to look elsewhere.
- Therefore, until we receive a formal response to the points raised in the letter submitted by us and members of this Working Group, and are assured we will be able to have a genuine dialogue, we feel we are unable to participate further in the meetings of the text and data mining working group.
- We would also like to see more representatives of EU based technology companies invited to participate in the discussion in future, particularly from representatives of EU tech SME businesses as we were the sole EU based technology organisation present at the last meeting. The organisers of the working group should contact colleagues working on the EU’s Digital Agenda who have done an excellent job reaching out to Europe’s entrepreneurial community.