Press Release — LIBER Signs Public Statement on Digital Services Act
24 January 2022, THE HAGUE – For Immediate Release
LIBER has today signed a public statement alongside the university association CESAER and the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), calling on the European Union to proactively recognise the importance of education and research digital infrastructures when devising digital-focussed legislation. We are deeply concerned about an emerging trend where education and research in Europe are treated as collateral damage caused by Directives and Regulations which are aimed at online businesses, but which in reality have much broader effects.
Digital platform-related legislation is devised around making commercial platforms responsible for users uploading illegal content, for example, music or films being uploaded to YouTube or Facebook. However, uploading content by end-users is a common feature of education and research also. Students, academics, researchers, and teachers upload articles, books, sound recordings, research data, and films to a whole raft of education and research platforms ranging from a university’s institutional repository, through to widely used repositories such as Dryad, ArXiv.org, national repositories, and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).
LIBER worked successfully with other library and cultural associations to create an exemption for educational and scientific repositories from Article 17 of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. We are however now very concerned that no such carve-out has been created in the draft Digital Services Act, which has been described as the “mother of all platform laws.” An amendment that would have exempted educational, library, and research platforms was not voted on in the plenary vote in the European Parliament last week due to complex voting list structures. This leaves discussions between the European Commission, Parliament, and Council of Ministers as the final chance to rectify this oversight in the drafting.
Our concerns include:
- Educational and research organisations undertake hosting of content to support learning, knowledge, and scientific discovery. It is entirely inappropriate that legal interventions aimed at for-profit businesses should be applied in this catch-all fashion where impacts for education and research are no more than collateral damage. At best this will mean new administrative and legal burdens for education and research organisations to comply with, at worst shutting down or not launching online services that allow uploading due to fears from organisations of the liabilities this might entail.
- The Digital Services Act impact assessment contains no evaluation of the cost or time impact of this legislation and its obligations on libraries, universities, or research organisations whose main role is to support learning. To put it bluntly, education and research organisations receive no income from articles, books, and research data being hosted on our platforms unlike the majority of hosting platforms for which this legislation has been devised.
- The legal confusion that an exemption under the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive but inclusion under the Digital Services Act would create for our institutions and potentially even the courts.
We are currently working with other library associations as well as the European University Association and Science Europe on the lack of carve-out for educational and scientific infrastructures in the Digital Services Act.
We would ask that you write to the rapporteurs Christel Schaldemose MEP, Patrick Breyer MEP, Geoffrey Didier MEP, Henna Virkkunen MEP as well as Commissioners Thierry Breton and Mariya Gabriel and ask for a carve-out from the obligations from the Digital Services Act for educational and scientific infrastructures. E-Mail addresses are available on the European Parliament and Commission website.
If you would like further support before writing please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also a letter sent to MEPs in December 2021 — also for download below.
[Photo credit: Bank Phrom on Unsplash]