Madrid, 28 October 2014 – Access Info Europe, the specialist right to information campaigners, today joined 32 civil society organisations calling on the European Commission to clarify the framework for copyright within the European Union.

The position paper by Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU calls on the European Commission to bring copyright law into the 21st century, redefining the balance between public commons and private property, and shortening copyright terms to the minimum term possible under existing international treaties and conventions.

Access Info Europe has a particular concern to ensure that all information created by EU bodies should be open and free for anyone to reuse. This includes information on websites and information received in response to access to documents requests. Currently the EU asserts copyright over documents it creates, although it does have a broad policy permitting reuse.


We are calling on the EU to set an example for all of the 28 Member States when it comes for freedom to reuse information created with public funds without any restrictions, copyright or other,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

Access Info Europe has in the past had issues when it has received from the EU copies of documents submitted by third parties, such as lobbyists, who have attempted to assert copyright over the documents. Access Info Europe argues that there is a public right to know which information is held by public bodies engaged in decision making.

Many countries in Europe still technically hold copyright over documents created by public bodies even though there is an increasing trend towards open licences. Legislation regarding reuse of public sector information also limits reuse of some government databases in some countries, on either fee or copyright grounds. In January 2014 the Germany government attempted to assert copyright of a report it had written about the electoral system when this appeared on website of the request platform [2]

Another specific issues raised in the position paper include what is known as “Freedom of Panorama”, which is the right to use photographs taken in public spaces, even when they include objects, such as buildings or statutes, which are covered by copyright. This has been an issue in Spain where the Guggenheim museum has asserted its copyright when some works of art included photos of the iconic building.

For more information, please contact:

Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe +34 667 685 319

Notes for the editors:[1] European Commission Copyright Notice:[2] Access Info Europe statement regarding the Copyright problem: