AFS Open Letter: Why Exemptions Do Not Work For Startups

February 21, 2019
Entrepreneurs, Data Act

Dear MEP,

Ahead of the Copyright vote in the Legal Affairs committee on 26 February, Allied for Startups shares three reasons why the Copyright Directive does not work for startups:

Don’t call it an exemption, and especially not for startups! An expiry date combined with an SME exception does not improve a bad directive. What’s the logic here? Does age, turnover or users give any indication about copyright infringements? No. The current text does not show any intention to “exempt” startups or SMEs and no European company will benefit from it.

There are more questions than answers. Many stakeholders have renounced their support for the directive. It’s gotten out of hand. Rather than reforming copyright, the MEPs pushing this forward are fuelling a fight between two industry groups. Neither big record labels, nor tech companies will be voting in May 2019. But citizens, small business owners, unions, academics and community leaders will be asking if this was all worth it? Is this what Europe is for?  

Taking measures sounds easy, but it’s actually not. Making platforms liable for infringing materials leaves them no option but filtering, which they will have to buy from the same “big US platforms” many are trying to hit with this reform. Think twice before selling out European startups to filter providers. Cui bono if data from European citizens in the future runs through filters from a few filter firms?

Allied for Startups welcomes the progress made on a mandatory exception for text and data mining. This shows that finding a solution that enables innovation while protecting copyright is possible.

Dear MEP, we urge you to consider the unintended consequences for innovation, citizens, startups, fundamental rights – please reject this directive in favour of finding a better solution.

Kind regards,


Lenard Koschwitz

Senior Director Global Public Policy


Find the PDF Version of the letter here.