From March 1, I am embarking on a new project. With the support of the Shuttleworth Foundation, I will be returning to my home town of Berlin to work full-time on advancing access to knowledge and culture through copyright reform. Read their announcement here or below.

Many were disappointed after the European Parliament adopted the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, but our fight was not in vain. I will be devoting the next years to defending all the safeguards and improvements we have achieved, in the national implementation and in court.

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Welcome Julia, Shannon and Nelson

Welcome, Julia Reda, Shannon Dosemagen and Nelson Wasswa – the new cohort of Shuttleworth Fellows for our March 2020 intake.

Our Honorary Steward, Beth Simone Noveck, has selected three exceptional fellows from a highly compelling shortlist. We thank Beth for her work and input to our process and are delighted with the choices she has made.

Each new fellow holds openness at the heart of their ideas and is breaking new ground in their respective fields: Julia is working to make European copyright laws better-suited to the modern, open Internet; Shannon is improving interoperability of open environmental data, and Nelson is applying openness to freshwater pollution monitoring. These are areas of shared interest for our fellowship community, and there will be much to explore and learn over the coming months and years.

The Shuttleworth team and our wider community would like to offer Julia, Shannon and Nelson the best of luck and a warm welcome as they prepare to start their fellowship journeys on March 1st.

Honorary Steward, Beth Simone Noveck: “In this day and age of increased political divisiveness and even despair, it was a tremendous joy and honor to read the applications of so many passionate and committed people, who are devoting their energies to improving the lives of others. They remind us that, when we work openly and collaboratively, every one of us can be powerful.”

“While picking three people to invest in was among the most difficult but pleasurable tasks I have undertaken, Shannon, Julia and Nelson are nothing short of extraordinary. This is not only because of their outstanding ideas but because they have a clear-sighted vision, and they demonstrated ‘sticktoitiveness’ to see these important projects through from idea to implementation and real impact.”

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Julia Reda. Photo cc-by Diana Levine / dianalevine.comJulia Reda. Photo cc-by Diana Levine /


Introducing: Julia Reda

Background: A researcher, copyright reformer and former MEP.

Idea: Repurpose copyright law to fit the digital age.


The Problem

It’s been almost a year since the European Union rubber-stamped its controversial Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Division over the outcome still runs deep. The entertainment and publishing industries laud it as a natural extension of the copyright laws they helped establish and a ‘victory for creators’. The rest of us are gravely concerned that applying analogue rules to a digital world will drag us further towards censorship, erosion of privacy, and lockdown of the free and open web.

For the moment, thanks to last-minute changes introduced in reaction to public protests against the Directive, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While the legislation contains worrying measures that continue the current trajectory of the Internet – towards restriction and automatic enforcement of overreaching laws – it also accommodates many progressive elements never seen in copyright legislation before. For the first time, the law is not entirely one-sided and premised on the “all rights reserved” model. And there is a significant opportunity to shape the future web, so open licenses gain stronger legal recognition and shared knowledge and culture can thrive.

The Idea

As a Member of the European Parliament between 2014-19, Julia Reda fought to mitigate the worst aspects of the directive, part by part and word by word. Backed by growing public awareness and support from the open movement, she managed to place safeguards in the legislation as well as a swathe of new user rights. Now, Julia is ensuring those positive elements are put firmly into practice in her home country of Germany.

“The first step is to change the national copyright laws,” she explains. “The directive has some positive and novel ideas to protect the rights of users, but I feel if nobody’s going to fight for them, they will be ignored by national legislators. The second step is to actually encourage people to make use of their rights.

“I’m starting a project to offer practical support, absorb the legal risks, and help people unaffiliated with large publishing organisations who have to fend for themselves. This is a big problem in academic publishing. Researchers are not paid by publishers and told they are not allowed to reproduce their own words, even when the law says they are. Independent authors who share their creations online find their works blocked by overzealous upload filters. It’s in situations like these where I want to get active and support people to exercise their rights.”

The Fellow

Julia Reda: “The law is a lot more flexible than we think. Big companies and publishers have the resources to access all the freedom the law gives them. I want users and individual authors to do that as well. I hope that more open access material becomes available, both research articles and parts of our cultural heritage.

“Openness is the goal, but also my methodology. These laws are generally accessible for anyone, but that doesn’t mean they are designed for people to understand them. A big part of what I do is explaining the complicated policy and legal processes to people in normal terms, educate them, and empower them to exercise their rights.”

The Foundation

Julia worked tirelessly and fearlessly as a one-issue MEP to limit much of the potential damage lurking in initial drafts of EU copyright legislation. She now has the opportunity to test her own ideas and seek precedents for the open movement that could shape the future web.

There are significant challenges ahead. We cannot predict how the law will be interpreted, and there is no doubt that the deep pockets of lobbyists will have opportunities to influence outcomes. It is time-critical, too: we have around 18 months before every country in the EU adopts the new directive. Julia’s ideas could define its effects.

Germany is the ideal testing ground for her work which, if successful, could expand its impact outwards to other EU and EFTA countries. Given the EU’s influence on global digital policy, there is a tremendous amount at stake here; not only for Germany and Europe but also for the rest of the world.

To the extent possible under law, the creator has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.

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