Modèle:ConsultCE2014:Solid exceptions for educational and research practices

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3. Solid exceptions for educational and research practices

Education and research practices are deeply transformed in the digital era. Let's consider education. Three major transformations are at work: educational practices do not take place only into teaching organizations; the notion of "educational resource" is meaningless since education practices can and do use any work or information; and finally, students are more and more authors or producers of contents and not just users of pre-existing contents. The present European approach of limited, heterogeneous and facultative exceptions for education is so much unsuitable that the European Commission itself considered in its Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy to make education exceptions compulsory in Member States and extend their scope.

There is no decent society without education and research exceptions applying in all countries and respectful of the following principles:

  • the exceptions must apply to educational or research practices, independently of the frame in which they are conducted. For instance, the educational exception can not be limited to teaching establishments, or to the fact that the participants are registered students. Open education, in all its form, must be included, as well as cultural practice workshops or educational activities in libraries and museums. However, education must remain distinguished from other use by the nature and aim of the activity and by the distribution of roles between teachers, instructors, tutors or mediators on one side and participants on the other side. Research must be defined by the nature and aim of the activity, as it is or should be for R&D tax credits.
  • The exceptions must apply to all copyrighted works. Nobody can decide in advance which work or content will make sense in an educational practice. The exclusion of "published education resrouces" from the educational exception in countries such as France would be laughable, it it were not the sign of an undue power of lobbies on public policy.
  • Education and research exceptions must not require financial compensation by users. Every author knows that there is no use more rewarding (in all senses) than having one's works used in education, for instance.
  • Finally, the general copyright framework must not treat the productions of students or participants in educational activities differently than those from any other authors. The notion of user-generated content is a fiction invented by intermediaries who wish to freely use material for their own purposes while giving no rights to authors and contributors.

Other types of exceptions such as for blind and visually-impaired persons, presently in process of being codified in a legally binding treaty at WIPO thanks to the action of Knowledge Ecology International and specialized organisations, must be treated in a similar manner. They must be compulsory but also defined in a suffficientlty effective and wide manner to enable the desired use (here access to reading and writing).