Austrian Collection Society Pushing Members To Support Collecting Fees For Every Embedded Video

from the the-front-rent-and-the-back-rent dept

The EU Commission has just extended its deadline for comment on its copyright review/reform for an extra 30 days. Those possibly affected by any changes routed through this would do well to add their input, especially as a couple of the issues being considered would turn normal internet sharing into copyright infringement.

Jakob Kucharczyk at Project DisCo (Disruptive Competition) points out two particularly troubling questions under consideration.

How about this question:

“Should the provision of a hyperlink leading to a work or other subject matter protected under copyright, either in general or under specific circumstances, be subject to the authorization of the rightholder?”

A similarly pivotal one:

“Should the viewing of a web-page where this implies the temporary reproduction of a work protected under copyright on the screen and in the cache memory of the user’s computer be subject to the authorization of the rightholder?”

One could simply paraphrase these questions into: would you like to break the Internet as we know it and criminalize Internet users for viewing a web-page? These questions are not theoretical; they are currently in front of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU).

If these are codified, embedding a video on a third-party site would trigger a licensing fee. This isn’t just a concern for bloggers or others who operate websites. This would affect everyone. Post a link or a video via Facebook or Twitter? That’s infringement. Sure, larger sites would probably be covered by blanket licenses, but that’s of very little comfort. Throwing permission/licenses into the third-party mix would create problems everywhere.

The second question is even worse. Now, even those simply viewing the posts of others would be infringing simply because a temporary cache copy has been created for the duration of the viewing.

To any reasonable person, both questions are patently ridiculous. For one thing, attempting to extract fees for embedding or linking to content is double-dipping. YouTube and others already pay licensing fees for content hosted at their sites. Attempting to add a layer of “permission” on top of third-party postings not only creates a legal nightmare for social media services, but also creates the very real possibility of encouraging copyright trolling. Anyone posting a link/embedding a video or simply viewing copyrighted content becomes a potential lawsuit target.

Neither of these questions should be answered “yes,” not even by the most diehard copyright maximalist. But that’s exactly what an Austrian collection society (AKM) is pushing for, according to this report sent in by Techflaws.

AKM has sent a letter to its 20,000 members, asking for them to comment on the EU Commission’s copyright reforms. All well and good, except that AKM seriously wants the first of these considerations to become EU law and has apparently altered the EU Commission’s questionnaire in hopes of adding 20,000 supporters’ “voices” to the collected comments.

The original questionnaire looks like this:


According to FutureZone, AKM sent this out, but removed everything but the “Yes” option from this question. It also added some canned wording in the explanation area, suggesting “reasonable compensation” for the embedding of music videos.

AKM fortunately didn’t make up its members’ minds on cached copies, but it still assumes an embedded video should be subject to double-dipping — once from the original host and once more from anyone embedding it.

AKM’s statement on its site (posted Feb. 5th) expresses its displeasure with the EU Directive, which it obviously feels offers inadequate compensation.

The EU Directive does not create a fair, level playing field and does not match Austrian standards.

“Fair and level” isn’t really what AKM is looking for. That much is apparent in its alteration of the original EU Commission questionnaire.

AKM’s stance is being embraced by perhaps the most infamous of collection societies, GEMA. Spokeswoman Ursula Goebel said GEMA was aligned with AKM. Hyperlinks and cached copies aren’t necessarily an issue (or at least one neither collection society feels it can safely approach at this time) but embedded videos are. According to Goebel, embedded videos should be licensed because the end user isn’t aware of where the videos originate. In other words, those embedding videos should pay a fee because viewers might think the blog, etc. is the originating source. Taxing one person for someone else’s ignorance hardly sounds like a logical reason for adding licensing fees to embeds. The article goes on to question how GEMA hopes to avoid double-dipping on licensing fees (it doesn’t — see below) while noting that this is perfectly in line with GEMA’s business model, which is predicated on the assumption that any sharing of content should be subject to licensing fees. (A hearty thank you to Jakob Kucharzyk for his translation help.)

GEMA isn’t shy about its double-dipping aspirations and has been fighting YouTube for a higher fees for several years now. To date, the end result has been little more than the endless aggravation of German YouTube viewers, who are greeted with the quizzical “Sorry” faces at a disproportionately higher rate than any other nation in the world.

The upside is that the comment period has been extended. The most hardline collection societies don’t appear to be overly eager to shatter the web in search on income, but AKM’s apparent “remix” of the EU Commission’s questionnaire (and GEMA’s thumbs-up) shows how far they’re willing to go to “tax” a stream both coming and going.

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Comments on “Austrian Collection Society Pushing Members To Support Collecting Fees For Every Embedded Video”

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20 Comments
Thinker says:

Not AGAIN!

Now staggeringly and annoyingly stupid there humanoids can be?
Hey, We have a Brilliant Idea! Ups, it only prevents humans to read, comment, analyze and debate legally without yelling across long distances.
My Scientific mind are apparently target again. Like to teach people, nevermind, you are just criminal etc…
Naturally I did answer even those two questions heavily agaist such idiocracy.

If You can, please do the same. Links below:

http://torrentfreak.com/eu-offers-public-a-chance-to-fix-copyright-law-140113/

Just Sayin' says:

you can try to paint it wrong, but..

“If these are codified, embedding a video on a third-party site would trigger a licensing fee.”

First off, you don’t embed on a third party site. You embed on your site, using content FROM a third party site. So as an example, you don’t embed Techdirt on Youtube, but Mike might embed a youtube video on his site.

Now, this is key: Since that video is content on his site (ie, part of the posting) why would it not be subject to copyright rules? Why would it not be subject to licensing? The current “it’s not actually on my server” mentality makes no sense, because the end user sees it as part of the site, and the “third party” that actually has the content has not granted you a license to use it – or is not licensed in a way that lets them grant you that right.

If you don’t do it that way, someone could buy a single license for stock photos, and then just let everyone else hot link the image and not worry about paying. That wouldn’t work out very well, would it?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Weasle to english translation:

?Should the viewing of a web-page where this implies the temporary reproduction of a work protected under copyright on the screen and in the cache memory of the user?s computer be subject to the authorization of the rightholder??

Or in plain text: “Should the internet properly working be considered copyright infringement without authorization of the rightsholder(s)?”

I wonder how much it cost to include that little bit of wording in the questionnaire, given such a change is every ‘collection’ agencies’ wet dreams. ‘Are you using the internet? Then you owe us money, and if you claim otherwise, it’s up to you to prove you have authorization for everything you viewed, read and listened to.’

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Re: Weasel to english translation:

?Should the viewing of a web-page where this implies the temporary reproduction of a work protected under copyright on the screen and in the cache memory of the user?s computer be subject to the authorization of the rightholder??
Technically, it already is. For example, I watched the video of She-Wolf last month with the full authorisation of David Guetta and VEVO.

Anonymous Coward says:

the EU seems to have made the questionnaire deliberately badly worded so that only lawyers can understand it. to me that means that regardless of what changes, if any, will be made to EU copyright law, people are going to risk if actually do so, breaking copyright law unintentionally. that is ridiculous, because 99.9% of people dont do things intentionally, but could be put in the position of not only receiving letters from the ISP, could actually end up in court!

Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder how much it cost to include that little bit of wording in the questionnaire, given such a change is every ‘collection’ agencies’ wet dreams

Is it really, or is it a label suggested idea to break the Internet. Either the collection societies require an accounting for every link on every web page on the net, and so that they can issue a license for each link, or it requires a blanket license for linking to and use of all content on the net. The first option will kill most self publishing, including blogs etc, on the net. Social media site will be left with the option of either blocking all user provided links, or employing enough people to deal with the red tape of allowing links. Either option is likely to kill them.
The blanket license route will not be acceptable to the legacy content companies, as it puts their income in the hands of the collection societies and governments who would set the license fee.
Those proposals seem like a stalking horse to give the legacy publishers, labels and studios control over all publication on the Internet, outside of shopping catalogs. These proposals could be used to kill the biggest threat to their business model, creators using the net to go direct to their audience by self publishing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Next copyright trolling idea, your brain infringes on our rights

And once this goes through, the next thing these collection societies will do is go after people for remembering the content of videos and songs they watched/listened to it.

Sure the website paid the licensing pays, and the links you clicked on to go to the site paid licensing fees, but your brain did not!

By using your brain you can constantly rewatch/listen to the best parts off videos and songs endlessly, without ever paying ANY licensing fees! That’s just wrong, your brain is guilty of copyright infringement!

Anyone unable to pay the exorbitant licensing fees for listening to songs/videos in their brain will now have their brains wiped clean of all contents.

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