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In May of 2013, the European Commission asked the public to answer eighty questions about the future of copyright in the EU. Topics addressed ranged from copyright term length to limitations and exceptions for user-generated content. In each area, a variety of different questions were asked, but many boiled down to “does the current system work?” and “if it doesn’t work, how would you improve it?”

The Wikimedia movement took a two-part approach to answering the questionnaire. In one part, a group of European chapters met to draft a set of responses. This response was submitted to the EC by the chapters, and also made available for community members to edit and submit on their own through FixCopyright.eu.

In the second part, the WMF legal team posted the questionnaire on Meta to gather input from community members. We combined those answers with the work of the European chapters, as well as other related advocacy groups to create a unified response. This was submitted to the EC by the WMF on behalf of the broader WMF community.

The responses were diverse, depending on the subject of the question, but several key themes came up repeatedly:

  • the costs created by copyright laws that are not consistent across the EU, such as those on Freedom of Panorama;
  • the benefits to creativity and creators that would come from stronger copyright exceptions and limitations;
  • opposition to extending the term copyright protection, or extending it to new rights like data mining; and
  • explaining how the publishing of creative works is no longer limited to a handful of people, and how that impacts copyright policy.

We hope the European Commission will take these points to heart as they consider what changes to make in any upcoming copyright law reforms. And we are grateful to everyone who participated in drafting these answers – we look forward to continuing to work together to develop and preserve laws that enable the free knowledge movement.

Luis Villa, Deputy General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation