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Net Experts Open Letter Opposing E.U.'s Article 13 Copyright Provision

     
3:48 pm on Jun 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Over 70 Internet pioneers and experts have signed an open letter aimed at the E.U.'s Article 13 which they claim being a dangerous provision whereby Internet platforms would be required to automatically filter any uploaded content. In the event of this monitoring, there's bound to be errors and many might fall foul, and the Internet is likley to become the opposite of today, making it far more difficult for innovation and sharing. Most would not argue that blatant content theft ought to be dealt with in the appropriate way.

The letter is signed by names including Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Jimmy Wales, the Mozilla Project co-founder, Mitchell Baker, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, cryptography expert Bruce Schneier, and net neutrality expert Tim Wu.

The E.U's Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee will vote on the proposal on June 20.

By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.


The letter (PDF) [eff.org...]

[eff.org...]

Earlier story E.U.'s Proposed Copyright Directive Risks Excessive Censorship [webmasterworld.com]
7:40 am on June 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yet another solution looking for a problem. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I suspect that few of those working on this plan have ever had an actual job in the real world.
7:43 am on June 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Might even run afoul of USA laws against prior restrain and the FTC for unilateral commerce.

What they are asking for is all sites/ips/providers to be copyright gatekeepers BEFORE the infringement. That is a leap too far, IMO.
3:58 pm on June 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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These are quite radical measures proposed, and will place far greater and onerous pressure to monitor and deal with infringement virtually immediately. In other words, more of what is done will be monitored.
10:51 pm on June 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like a good thing to me. What is so 'innovative' about massive media sharing platforms? These companies get away with things that traditional broadcasters couldn't even imagine doing and just hide behind the excuse they are platform (and thus not responsible for what is published).

I got bored of sending DMCA requests myself, however, vetting the mass of inappropriate content my kids are exposed shouldn't just be my job.

Yes, filtering all content uploaded might be a big ask, but at the end of the day someone / something should be doing it.
7:23 am on June 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What SHOULD be under consideration is making DMCA (or the EU similar) actually WORK.

That is, once a DMCA has been received by sites that USE UGC an example of that copyrighted material they have received (via hash or other technology which the major sites all CLAIM to have) that henceforth SAME cannot be then uploaded AGAIN. (This is how YT, among others, have continued to enrich themselves at the cost of the IP holders).

Close that loophole and we will not need any "new legislation".

2 cents worth.
9:00 am on June 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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just hide behind the excuse they are platform

I'm not sure reality can be classified as an excuse.

There are all sorts of problems that come with the free sharing of information, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

Of course that's just my opinion... What isn't opinion is that the technology required to pre-filter content in any way that could possibly hope to be be successful isn't trivial. And it would be impossible to do it in such a way that it wouldn't fail often.

There are companies that could pull it off, given time, and likely there would eventually be third party services that companies could access for a fee.

Provided that there wasn't a penalty for getting it wrong (failing to catch a copyright violation) it wouldn't in and off itself kill the internet as we know it.

But it would be a shiny new gateway, annoying for the big players, prohibitive for the small ones.

You're right, there's nothing particularly innovative about social media platforms, at least not these days. But this wouldn't just impact (insert hated social media platform name), it essentially covers all user generated content, and in that way stifles all sorts of future innovation. Crowd intelligence is a big part of the future, hopefully.

And it's one step closer to making platforms legally responsible for user generated content. Which absolutely would kill the internet as we know it.
11:56 am on June 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There are all sorts of problems that come with the free sharing of information, but the pros far outweigh the cons

I used to believe that. However, I now think without accountability the internet has become just as effective at spreading disinformation.

Personally I don't think it is fair that just because it is the internet, businesses feel they can have their cake and eat it; ie profits and no accountability.

From a pragmatic point of view, the law is being broken by someone - copyright is being brazenly ignored, libel is commonplace and plenty of content should never be seen by anyone. So there are victims, but they are being ignored whilst the internet giants pay lip service to governments, pretending they are genuinely concerned about any of it.

The argument that it is too big a task to fix this doesn't really justify the fact it is still happening.
4:53 am on June 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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From a pragmatic point of view, the law is being broken by someone


In a sane world those law breakers would be prosecuted for bad behavior. Sadly, that's not happening. UGC has be treated with kid gloves from word go. Sites have/had their "safe harbor". Everyone else (creators/ip holders) were left to fend for themselves.

The REAL big problem is that Public Domain and Copyright has been muddied/abused (who needs 175 years protection?) and there's a mass rejection WORLD WIDE over absurd "protections". NOTE: I am not saying this is right, only recognizing it is happening.

What would be WRONG is requiring a non-lawbreaker (a site) to PROACTIVELY PREVENT LAW BREAKING for THIRD PARTIES. That's a step too far and will have an enormous chilling effect for SITE operations. IE. "you can't upload anything unless you can prove you are the absolute and sole creator ... and in the process of that convey full copyright management to SITE henceforth".

UGC will disappear in a flash and YT will die an instant death.

Yeah, right, like that is going to happen.

More noise, more bureaucrats posturing, and in the end it will be business as usual. BUT NO MISTAKE, some site, some where, will be singled out and fined into oblivion just to make sure "we are doing our jobs".

Will if be yours? Time will tell.
9:32 am on June 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What would be WRONG is requiring a non-lawbreaker (a site) to PROACTIVELY PREVENT LAW BREAKING for THIRD PARTIES. That's a step too far and will have an enormous chilling effect for SITE operations.

OK, this is a fair point. So, I suppose the sites running UCG need to make sure they have sufficient details on their users so they can be held responsible for and infringing materials they post. Somehow I suspect the EU would make this impossible through privacy concerns?!
2:27 pm on June 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think the EU will end up with a Digital Identity system, run (ideally) by Member States.

You will then be able to set up Pseudentities(tm)! tied back to the real one. That way, private companies will only have gradated access to PII, but will be able to enforce rules on real people (without knowing who they are).

Then all you have to worry about is the Government having full, immediate access to your online identity. Which is fine(!)
2:41 pm on June 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like an ill-considered backward step (which is just what I'd expect from the EU).

Having said that, I'm not sure how much the new law really changes. I did some research on Copyright when a photographer complained about one of his photographs uploaded by a user of my website - and refused to accept my immediate deletion of the photo and apology as sufficient.

I seemed to me that in the UK I was already considered a publisher under the law, and potentially liable for anything uploaded by users, as strict liability applies to copyright claims.

The problem is that the law puts the burden on the publisher - without giving them any mechanism by which they can avoid infringing copyright: There's no central database of photos - if someone uploads an image and claims it's theirs - how can you possibly know different? Yet as if by magic you are expected to "just know".

The other problem we regularly get as publishers is having our time wasted by spurious copyright claims from photographers over images we've obtained legitimately as stock photos. They're often not organised enough to know what they've licenced to who and when. A law compensating publishers for bogus copyright claims would be nice - though I won't hold my breath.
2:57 pm on June 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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So, I suppose the sites running UCG need to make sure they have sufficient details on their users so they can be held responsible for and infringing materials they post.

If they apply the proposed law..( even if the existent US and EU laws were to be applied to it ) to Pinterest..The "Crowd sourced copyright abuse site" started by an ex Google employee,( Ben Silbermann ) and which ( with Google's blessing and an algo tweak* that is very very friendly to it ) dominates the google image results with it's stolen images.

Google claim to demote pirate sites in SERPS and torrent sites and to be receptive to copyright abuse claims, and to remove links to pages which abuse copyright items..so.. Why do Google not apply those rules to Pinterest ?

If this proposed law kills Pinterest et al..I'll raise my glass to it and cheer it on.
4:31 pm on June 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I suspect the problem for many objectors is that this proposal goes too far.
The difficulty, as I see it, is that many have never known any different, and it'll be surprising for them when they can't post a meme.

There's a good piece here on Wired which summarises it well.
[wired.co.uk...]

this might be a useful solution for the smaller publisher. [bbc.co.uk...]
9:41 pm on June 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@7_Driver I got into web publishing as a photographer and see things pretty much from the opposite perspective. The law does protect publishers of UGC with Safe Harbor provisions - thus allowing publishers to make money off the back of free content with relative impunity.

As for annoying, forgetful photographers - not a problem I can say I'm familiar with. I've been using stock photos for around 15 years many of which appear pretty high in image searches. I think maybe I've had one photographer enquire about where I got a photo...
12:45 am on June 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Sadly, if this goes into effect there will a whole bunch of webmasters reliant on UGC likely to find themselves in hot water. And not until it is too late.