#rp20 Speaker Julia Reda — Update on Copyright and Upload Filters

Julia Reda

Photo Credits: Diana Levine

Harvard researcher, former Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and activist for digital rights Julia Reda has been an MEP for the Pirate Party from 2014 to 2019. During this time she helped organising protests against plans for online upload filters in Brussels. Today, she is doing research at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society of Harvard University regarding topics like fair access to knowledge, open science and the regulation of online platforms.

Julia will be talking about the widely discussed Article 17 (formerly Article 13) of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market and the latest developments regarding dealing with potentially illegal content of online platforms. The focus of her keynote speech will be on the implementation of the European copyright directive in Germany but she will also talk about attempts for laws in other European countries regarding upload filters.

You can find Julia on Twitter under her username @Senficon.

ASAP—3 questions for … Julia Reda

We asked Julia three questions about her keynote at #rp20, the most pressing issues for her at the moment and her recommended readings, music or movies.

What topic will you talk about at re:publica?
Filtering without upload filters—how’s that supposed to work? When our government voted for the controversial copyright reform last year they made pretentious promises to calm down the over 100,000 protesters on the streets in Germany. They promised they’ll find a way to implement the reform without using upload filters that threaten to restrict our freedom of communication on the web. Since then they have become quiet around Article 17 (formerly Article 13). Instead of a concrete proposal for article 17 they now aim to push the issue of ancillary copyright that fell through several times already. We’re running out of time finding a way to implement Article 17 in a manner that respects our basic rights as best as possible, though. Other European members like France for example, have already presented their national implementations which will surely result in upload filters. Measures to protect the banning of memes for instance, by overly enthusiastic filters are being ignored completely by these suggestions. While the parties CDU and SPD are waiting it out they contribute to the fact that our european neighbours are creating precedents that will severely hamper our freedom online. 

True to this year’s motto—what’s the most pressing issue for you personally at the moment?
It’s not just copyright issues—there’s a diffusion of responsibility in all kinds of political fields. Uncomfortable decisions are being blamed on Brussels even though the German government actively collaborated on them and precious time is being wasted on urgent crises like climate change. The young generation is urging for change but is still not taken seriously enough by the political parties. It’s time to wake them up!

What’s your reading, movie or music recommendation that everyone should check out ASAP?
When politics is asleep at the wheel it’s often journalism and social media that can help push social change. I’m deeply impressed by the new book of the two journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, “She Said”. Both have helped tremendously to uncover the sexual harassment scandal regarding Harvey Weinstein. They got the ball rolling but without the help of thousands of courageous women sharing their experience online using the motto #MeToo they would have never gotten the attention they got. Their story encourages to go public with pressing issues but it also shows that it’s high time to work on political and societal structures that have enabled the abuse of power and the exploitation of marginalised groups for years.