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EU Court Rules Against Anti-Piracy Filtering System

5:02 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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EU Court Rules Against Anti-Piracy Filtering System
A social network cannot be required to install an anti-piracy filtering system, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.

Belgian music royalty collecting firm SABAM wanted the social network Netlog to stop users infringing copyright.

But the court said the filtering required would contravene rights to freedom of business, personal data and freedom of information.

The judgement could have consequences for similar cases across the EU.
8:31 pm on Feb 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Merely means that whole-sale filtering cannot be enforced by rule of law. However, the article also quotes this statement:

The ruling doesn't stop rights owners seeking more limited injunctions against social networking sites or ISPs, but they will have to be more 'proportionate' in scope and effect.

Meaning that as people keep posting copyrighted material on various sites, separate injunctions can be filed for each one.

In the end it is cheaper to implement an automated content filtering system than having to hire a full squadron of lawyers to respond to all the content owner complaints. Software filtering charges a lower hourly rate than an army of attorneys.

I personally have some trouble understanding that people would like the police to take action, if a burglar breaks into their house and steal their TV, jewelry, and other valuables. They then think that stealing is horrible and the thieves should be caught and PUNISHED, because it happens to be their property that got "lifted".

But those same people for some odd reason think that it should be legal for themselves to steal property produced and owned by others. Or even worse, stealing content and loading it onto various social sites for others to use for free as well.

5:43 am on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Breach of copyright is not theft, it is breaking a government granted monopoly. Take a look at the original justifications for copyright law (still applicable in the US because its in the constitution).

The idea is to give people an incentive to maximise the public good.

Theft of physical property has always been illegal, not something that was invented fairly recently.

I do think copyright is a good idea, but current terms are ludicrous (something written when Queen Victoria was alive should not be still in copyright in the EU), and the penalties are disproportionate, as is the use of increasing amounts of public money meant for fighting serious crime on copyright enforcement (but only for big media, I doubt that the US Department of Homeland Security or the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency are going to take down any sites ripping off my content.
7:25 am on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Whether current terms could be improved or not, saying that stealing other people's content (copyright breach or their hard work and investment) is not the equivalent to theft is about the dumbest thing I could imagine.

How can you argue that that people that spend a lot of time creating content (whether video/writings/images) should just think of "maximizing the public good", and should not think that someone taking their hard work are mere thieves?

There is no "maximizing public good" about content theft, or copyright violation. Merely a case of lazy bums that do not want to do their own work or pay their own way, and instead steal the work, time, investment, and property of others, because it is the easiest path to take through life.

Content thieves (whatever the format) are no different from the people breaking into other people's houses to steal their electronics or jewelry, or people that knock out the windows of your car and steal the car stereo.

Fortunately, typical covering laws agree with that.

You are correct that the punishments are "disproportionate". The punishment for content theft is not high enough, in my opinion. If you break into a house and steal other people's stuff, you end up in jail. Stealing other people's work, time, and money through content theft should be no different. Just because it is easier to steal content than to steal "car stereos", the punishment for theft should not be any lower.
8:07 am on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I personally have some trouble understanding that people would like the police to take action, if a burglar breaks into their house and steal their TV, jewelry, and other valuables. They then think that stealing is horrible and the thieves should be caught and PUNISHED, because it happens to be their property that got "lifted".

Now imagine those people whose houses are burgled would lobby government to introduce laws that everybody should wear a device that tracks their location and that parcel services should open and check the content of every parcel - just in case the burglar sells the goods this way.

I own a B&M store and there is always the problem of shoplifting which causes real and not "virtual" damage. Yet you do not see me running around making ridiculous demands that goverments should invade peoples privacy to minimize my losses.
8:42 am on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Hmm.. Who is talking about invading anyone's privacy?

If you upload music ripped off CDs, or a copied movie to a web-site that has public access and share those files between people, then there no real privacy there, as long as other people have access.

Don't know how you connect "lobby government to make people wear tracking devices", which I have not seen anyone argue, with stealing other people's content?

Your post, however, does document the main disconnect people have with the concept of property ownership and the money, work and investment that goes into it. The belief that if you cannot "throw" what you steal, then it does not exist.

You state:

shoplifting causes real and not "virtual" damage

Thats where you are wrong. When someone steal my content and uses it for their own benefit, uses it to improve their own SEO rankings and thereby dropping mine, that is not "virtual damage" to me or any other content owner. It is real, physical, and financial.

If you own a physical music store and sell physical CDs and DVD, someone copying (stealing) music and movies electronically and further sharing them with all their "online friends" is not merely a "virtual damage" to even the physical store owner either, when the store revenue drops like a stone because people can just as easily download stolen music/movies from the web, without adequate fear of being prosecuted for that theft. Neither is it "virtual" when we all have to pay more money for CDs/DVDs when buying them legally, because the prices go up for the producing companies to keep their required profit margins. Without the electronic theft, we could all buy cheaper movies and music in a legal fashion.

When the financials of people that create any type of content drop, there will be less content produced, because the typical financial benefit is simply not there to produce it anymore. Either that, or prices become so sky-high for legally purchased content, that this in turn lead to even more stolen content, because there is now more incentive for people to copy it and "get something for free". No different from buying counterfeit or stolen physical goods.

Bottom line in my opinion is, that there is NO difference between theft of physical goods, and "virtual goods". The motive for having a store or web-site is no different, whether your store has a front-door and sells shoes or DVDs, you are Apple's iTunes store and you sell digital media, or a web-site owner hoping that your "virtual" hard work attracts web-site visitors. As a site owner you further hope that your work and content is not merely stolen and copied onto some other web-site for that person's "free" benefit.

In both physical and online cases there is have the same motive of making a living and be able to pay our rent, put food on the table, and pay for our kids college educations.

It sounds like you are saying that only your physical store "shop-lifters" are real and cause real damage, while all the online "shop-lifters" are merely imaginary and cause no "real" damage? If that is what you are stating, I know some good Economics 101 books that might help.
11:48 am on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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DeeCee - be cause its not the same, I dont place all my values on the street, I have at home where i can close my doors. There are A LOT of people that spread there content, then after sometime come with a complaint to all those who have "there" content. Also if I want something to not be spread on the net, I place no index or login page......there many options. Still a big fan of DMCA where the site owner have a chance to take content down and the "asker" have a quick solution.
4:20 pm on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thats merely a difference in how easy physical versus digital property is to protect. It is not an indication of whether something is stolen or not.

Because you are right. You can lock your jewelry in a safe. Not that easy for web-site content. (The login page you mention being the equivalent to the safe.)

"noindex" does not protect content from content scrapers at all. Since some content scrapers (and many blog-spammers) use Google's search APIs as a tool to find the most valuable content to scrape or spam, a noindex simply means that they (or legitimate readers) can no longer find the content in well-behaved search engines. But the real content scraper crawlers scan all sites independently of search engines, and simply run right through any robots.txt indication or 'noindex' in the web-page. They do not even check.

Or they are mere human "readers", that simply cut-paste (scrape) straight off your page, and onto their own.

Allowing a search engine to index ones content, so human readers can find it, does NOT mean that it is freely available for other people to paste into their own web-sites. Nor does it indicate that the content is suddenly put into the public domain and is free for everyone to scrape. Whether thinking of it from an ethical or from a legal perspective.

Some years go, when I finished my second masters degree, several of my fellow students were caught taking the easy way out when writing papers. A simple Google search on "their" content found that there was no original thought in what they had handed in at all. They merely stole the thoughts of someone else by cutting/pasting whole pages from the web. (Wikipedia is very popular with students, so many teachers always check there first. :) ) That is not only plagiarism (which got their papers kicked out and a warning of expulsion to be made), but it is also theft.

My first degree was back in the dark-ages, where we only had internet but no WWW, so that problem was not as easily executed or detected back then. :)
5:12 pm on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Let's get back to the thread topic, which is should government require ISPs to inspect all content as it is placed on their servers to prevent copyright infringement. The EU court ruled against. Was this a good or bad decision?
6:06 pm on Feb 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My opinion:

Good decision: Not to let government directly force ISPs or sites to monitor.. Government intervention always lead to constantly increasing intervention and tracking abuse. Politicians are the last people that should be in control.

Separately, I think that in the end it will both be necessary and prudent for ISPs and sites to implement a level of their own monitoring to be able to show legal "due diligence" in preventing their systems from being abused for obvious illegal purposes.

Otherwise they will in the end spend their time and money in court responding to complaints from content owners. Both on requests to shutdown illegal content, and in some cases even suits for aiding-and-abetting content/media abusers, when it turns out that they obviously knew what was uploaded to their systems and/or systems being used for. As any professional site owner would know by instinct and by a simple look at the content.

Turning a blind eye merely because it creates content and discussion on their site will catch up to them and make them a take-down target.

By US DMCA law an ISP/site is not immediately liable for bad user uploaded content, provided that they respond immediately when notified of stolen content. But if they do not act appropriately, let it continue, or it turns out they knew before hand, they can be criminally charged for aiding-and-abetting, and stuck with a felony.