On 26 January 2022, the European Commission presented its proposal for the EU Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles which will serve as a reference point in the future and as a common EU vision of our digital rights. The declaration is now being discussed in the European Parliament and Council, and Free Software shall become part of it.
First a link to the EU document under discussion (would have also been useful to cite this in the original FSFE blog):
- European Commission (26 January 2022). European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles for the digital decade — COM(2022) 28 final. Brussels, Belgium: European Commission.
My observation is that there needs to be a proper definition for “re‑use” in that declaration. The current legal precedent is set in the open data directive 2019/1024 under definition §2.11 which unfortunately maps “re‑use” onto “use”. That is wholly unsatisfactory because “use” is a tightly proscribed concept under copyright and related rights law. This legal drafting will cause no end of trouble going forward, I would suggest. In short, the European Union needs to prioritize an information commons over the development of a European data market founded on public sector information.
Clearly my comments do not relate to software. But while the line between computer programs and data is straight and clear under law, it is not so in practice. Thus, I believe that organizations like the FSFE need to extend their brief to include public interest information. Indeed, what is the point of free software if the public information needed for useful tasks remains legally encumbered and unable to be safely modified and shared?