Copyright underpins all our daily activities - it affects the way we listen to music, read, or watch news. It determines how we learn, work and express ourselves via social media, also when we use someone else’s creation and remix it into something new.
As we become more dependent on technology every day, the laws governing access to information and knowledge influence the way we take care of our personal health or access lifelong learning, too.
Copyright has been tailored to the analog reality many years ago, and it doesn’t fit the increasingly digital world. Its ongoing reform could be a chance to make life easier, work more productive and fun - well - more fun! Instead, the reform misses the right perspective on the future.
Take a look at how the copyright reform influences everybody’s tomorrow:
We live in an accelerating world and it is crucial to keep up with new knowledge at school, work and in everyday life. The response to that is lifelong learning: formal and informal education accessible anytime and anywhere.
If the copyright reform is adopted in the shape proposed by the European Commission, we will end up with a law that does not allow educators to use copyrighted materials without a license outside the classroom.
Today it would mean that a university teacher can freely stream a movie during classes or use a music video in an online course, but a library would need a permission or even pay for the use.
If in the future we will be able to design AI-based learning assistants, their usability will depend on the variety of knowledge, videos or music they can easily obtain without a license. If the copyright reform goes wrong, DigiTutor and other educational AI tools will become obsolete before they become reality.
As lives become more and more dependent on technology, technology becomes crucial for our self expression. In the future we will treat online services as essential to the way we create and connect with others.
If the copyright reform is adopted in the shape proposed by the European Commission, we will end up with upload filtering. This mechanism will allow internet platforms such as YouTube to use algorithms monitoring anything users upload and automatically block video, audio, pictures or text that include content copyrighted by someone else.
Today it would include memes, fan videos, music remixes, and many other stuff that we love and enjoy for private use, entertainment, parody or political commentary. By preventing these, upload filtering will affect creativity and freedom of expression.
If in the future we will be able to digitize our experiences and create realistic interactions with digital versions of real objects, upload filtering could block them too. If the reform goes wrong, promising new devices such as DigiDermis will become obsolete before they become reality.
In a connected world, our opportunities increase vastly by reaching to the global market. We surf the internet without knowing how many times we cross national borders in our digital searches and online purchases. The potential for creating a more connected Europe is still largely untapped due to lack of a real digital single market.
If the copyright reform is adopted in the shape proposed by the European Commission, we will be stuck with copyright laws that are different in every EU country. We will continue to live in EU where books, movies, TV shows, music or scientific papers available online in one European country are often unavailable in others.
If in the future we invent shape-changing matter, designs for such matter available in one country will not work in another. Smart objects will simply fall apart as you cross state borders. DigiAtoms and other forms of intelligent matter will become obsolete before they become reality.
"A Future Not Made in the EU" is a project using speculative design methodology to tell the stories of the possible futures in the context of the copyright law reform which may thwart development of modern solutions in education, creativity, commerce, media and healthcare in the European Union.
Speculative design is an innovative design method that allows taking up future challenges with imaginative projections of products and services. We used this method to illustrate the future of copyright. The discussion on its reform is embedded in the present and becomes extremely technical. Through our project not only do we try to visualise the future of copyright but also inspire our imagination to exemplify bad consequences of the reform done wrong.
Centrum Cyfrowe is a think-and-do tank working at the intersection of technology, law, society and culture. We analyze and model ways in which citizens and their institutions fulfill their professional, civic and personal potential with opportunities provided through ICT. Our work produces qualitative research, policy and legal recommendations, roadmaps, manuals, and methodologies. We also coordinate activities of Creative Commons Poland. We are achieving better adjustment of both the system – policies and law – as well as of educational, research, civic and cultural institutions to the changing realities of the 21st century.
"A Future Not Made in the EU" is part of FUTURELAB, a project through which we look further into the future than in our other activities. In FUTURELAB, we are exploring ways of describing and understanding changes caused by new technologies. We are particularly interested in understanding the future as it is being shaped here in Poland. We work in interdisciplinary teams by inviting experts from a range of disciplines to cooperate with us - based on a belief that a complicated future can only be understood by combining our efforts.
Centrum Cyfrowe and other organizations work everyday to convince the European Commission
and the European Parliament to put the copyright reform on the right track.