EU Announces Absolutely Ridiculous Copyright Proposal That Will Chill Innovation, Harm Creativity

from the how-hard-did-they-work-to-make-it-this-bad? dept

This is not a surprise given the earlier leaks of what the EU Commission was cooking up for a copyright reform package, but the end result is here and it’s a complete disaster for everyone. And I do mean everyone. Some will argue that it’s a gift to Hollywood and legacy copyright interests — and there’s an argument that that’s the case. But the reality is that this proposal is so bad that it will end up doing massive harm to everyone. It will clearly harm independent creators and the innovative platforms that they rely on. And, because those platforms have become so important to even the legacy entertainment industry, it will harm them too. And, worst of all, it will harm the public greatly. It’s difficult to see how this proposal will benefit anyone, other than maybe some lawyers.

Not surprisingly, the EU Commission is playing up the fact that this package does knock down some geoblocking in setting up more of a “single market” for digital content, but after Hollywood started freaking out about it, that proposal got watered down so much that plenty of content will still be geo-blocked. And there’s so much other stuff in here that’s just really, really bad. As expected, it includes a ridiculous ancillary copyright scheme, which should really just be called the “Google tax” for linking to copyright-covered content.

The proposal does away with the liability limitations for platforms, effectively requiring any tech platform that allows user-generated/user-uploaded content to build or license their very own ContentID system. This is ridiculous. If the idea was to punish Google, this will do the opposite. Basically no startup will be able to afford this, and it will just lock in platforms like YouTube as the only option for content creators wishing to upload video. Protecting intermediary liability has been shown, time and time again, to enable new innovation and also to enable greater creativity and free speech — and the EU Commission basically just tossed it in the garbage because some Hollywood interests think (incorrectly) that internet companies “abuse” the protections.

The EU Commission barely hides the fact that they’re doing this to try to protect legacy industries while punishing innovative ones:

The Copyright Directive aims to reinforce the position of right holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the online exploitation of their content on video-sharing platforms such as YouTube or Dailymotion. Such platforms will have an obligation to deploy effective means such as technology to automatically detect songs or audiovisual works which right holders have identified and agreed with the platforms either to authorise or remove.

Newspapers, magazines and other press publications have benefited from the shift from print to digital and online services like social media and news aggregators. It has led to broader audiences, but it has also impacted advertising revenue and made the licensing and enforcement of the rights in these publications increasingly difficult.The Commission proposes to introduce a new related right for publishers, similar to the right that already exists under EU law for film producers, record (phonogram) producers and other players in the creative industries like broadcasters.

The new right recognises the important role press publishers play in investing in and creating quality journalistic content, which is essential for citizens’ access to knowledge in our democratic societies. As they will be legally recognised as right holders for the very first time they will be in a better position when they negotiate the use of their content with online services using or enabling access to it, and better able to fight piracy. This approach will give all players a clear legal framework when licensing content for digital uses, and help the development of innovative business models for the benefit of consumers.

The proposal also includes a new “exception” for text and data mining — which sounds like it could be a good thing, but even it was designed in a manner to “protect” legacy publishers, and which will seriously harm smaller innovators and researchers. The exception is only limited to those engaging in scientific research, meaning that any other kind of research that involves data mining is at risk in the EU. Basically, the EU just gave away that entire important and growing innovative industry. Almost all of the major work in AI and machine learning these days involves data mining, and the EU just told all those companies to go find a new home.

Just looking around at various European-based organizations, they’re pretty much agreed that this is a complete disaster. Here’s Communia, saying “this is not how you fix copyright.”

Today?s proposal buries the hope for a more modern, technologically neutral and flexible copyright framework that the Commission had hinted at in its initial plans for the Digital Single Market. The proposal largely ignores crucial changes to copyright that would have benefitted consumers, users, educators, startups, and cultural heritage institutions. It also abandons the idea of a digital single market that allows all Europeans the same rights to access knowledge and culture. Finally, it completely ignores the importance of protecting and expanding the public domain.

And here’s EDRi, saying that the proposal “fails at every level.”

The European Commission has proposed a Copyright Directive that could not conceivably be worse. The text that was launched today includes a proposal to potentially filter all uploads to the Internet in Europe. The draft text would destroy users? rights and legal certainty for European hosting companies. The new Directive?s proposal for a new 20-year ?ancillary? copyright for ?news? outlets repeats painful mistakes made in Germany and Spain, which hurt publishers and Internet users alike.

?We need a copyright reform to make Europe fit for the 21st century. We now have a proposal that is poison for European?s free speech, poison for European business and poison for creativity?, said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights. ?It could not conceivably be worse.?

And here’s EU Parliament member Marietje Schaake, noting how wrong this approach is:

It lacks ambition and instead reads like a defence of old business models. We need a real copyright revolution instead. Publishers might have legitimate concerns about their decreasing revenues, but a retrograde reform of copyright law is not the solution.

So the EU Commission has taken the exact wrong approach. It’s one that’s almost entirely about looking backwards and “protecting” old ways of doing business, rather than looking forward, and looking at what benefits the public, creators and innovators the most. If this proposal actually gets traction, it will be a complete disaster for the EU innovative community. Hopefully, Europeans speak out, vocally, about what a complete disaster this would be.

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Comments on “EU Announces Absolutely Ridiculous Copyright Proposal That Will Chill Innovation, Harm Creativity”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A large part is that anytime you hear a government body talking about ‘rights holders’ you can be pretty sure that ‘the public’ isn’t considered part of that group. Instead the only ‘rights holders’ that are considered are large companies, who clearly need ‘protection’ from that dastardly market that has the gall to change over time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually this has the stench of both the worst of the right holder interests and the large internet companies.

It holds both a very steep protection of the likes of Youtube and Dailymotion as well as a heavy influence, not from creators as the commission promises, but for older publishing institutions.

The mess even outside the cited section looks like a commissioner having given up on coming up with anything. The proposals have been separated into small bits and different industry interests seems to have literally written the specific parts (copyright infringement: Passing along other peoples work as his own!). There is absolutely nothing in it that signals coherency, a modicum of moderation of demands or even a will to hide those facts. It is sad to read!

Peter (profile) says:

>> Publishers might have legitimate concerns about their decreasing revenues.

Indeed they might. On the other hand, their job has changed. Before the internet, it could take millions of Euros and a lot of skill to produce and launch a new album or book in the form of physical copies in every retail outlet in Europe.

Now, Youtube and other have taken over the job, and eliminated most of the upfront investment. What’s wrong with Youtube taking a part of the publisher’s share in return?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What’s wrong with Youtube taking a part of the publisher’s share in return?

I should think that would be obvious you pirate commie terrorist! Obviously the fact that they made X profits before means they are owed, forever, X, no matter what happens or how the market may change. To even think otherwise is a clear sign of a criminal mind, and you should be ashamed of even asking the question.

The idea that just because sites/services like Youtube have taken the place of the old publishers means that said publishers should somehow make less money now than they made when they were the only avenue of publication is beyond absurd. If anything they should be making more money with the absolute explosion of creativity, and if the newer companies aren’t going to hand over the proper amounts on their own then it’s clearly time to introduce a law to make the revenue sharing mandatory.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“after Hollywood started freaking out about it, that proposal got watered down so much that plenty of content will still be geo-blocked.”

Hollywood is in the EU? Or maybe the EU is a US state? Why would the US care for Bollywood ?

“Basically no startup will be able to afford this, and it will just lock in platforms like YouTube as the only option for content creators wishing to upload video.”

Bug? Feature?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: EU

Oh sure mate! The earliest date the UK will leave the EU is in 2020. You Brits will show those Frenchmen!

The UK already lost billions in the first few weeks after the first Brexit vote when a huge amount of capital left London. Do you really think that this state of mind can survive until 2020? I predict that you( the UK ) will get another vote later in this decade and it will end like iLand, when it had an obviously not faked, 2nd vote about joining the EU. First vote says No! but the 2nd one will be a pro EU vote and if you think that anything that happens during the voting day counts then either except my “You’re cute” or just think that plebs have anything to say.

Anonymous Coward says:

Impact on US service providers

Any idea what kind of impact would this have upon US service providers? The DMCA offers protection from liability to those who follow certain procedures, while this would *create* liability for those who don’t follow EU rules. There is no SPEECH Act for copyright infringement, which raises the question: would the DMCA’s immunoty provisions apply to the enforcement of foreign judgments by US courts?

Anonymous Coward says:

The EU is Grea!

The EU appointed an Ukrainian for matters concerning education, the obvious choice because they are anti Russia, and while he was appointed for minister of education his state’s obligatory books of education included works of authors who were anti jews and promote the believes of the Nazi regime.

One person asked the question if quote: ” could we hope that “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler could be included in the education of the youth?

Anonymous Coward says:

IP The Movie - From bad to worse: I think read about this before...

I think I’ve read about this before…

There was this science fiction story you see, in were there’s a timeline that explains when why and how things went wrong…

I think we’re close to that divergent point that’ll be in history books a hundred years from now. People then will look back and wonder at how such a tragic loss of common sense became a standard norm.

Anonymous Coward says:

the first and most important thing that needs looking into here is what sort of personal incentive the head, if not all members, of the EU Commission was given to, as usual, line up in defence of the Entertainment industries and do whatever can conceivably be thought of to prevent any type of advancement that puts those industries behind the modern, digital approach of all things, not just entertainment. no one in their right mind could come up with these ideas unless greatly ‘encouraged’ to do so, knowing that the reasons are purely self-preservation of the likes of the MPAA, RIAA and all manner of other, more local to Europe movie, music, game and publishing industries rather than doing whatever can be donr to encourage the forward thinking and moving of those industries. the legacy players are so scared of the future unless they can control it and that means taking the Internet and doing with it exactly what it wants. and that has been the whole aim of theirs for 20+ years. they want to stifle innovation and advancement so that, eventually, they have so many restrictions in place on what can/cannot be done, can/cannot be seen/heard/read on the internet unless they give permission and can also charge a fee, while also deciding what can and cannot be made available to others, ie, deciding what web sites are allowed on the net and what they contain, who can view them and what can/cannot be uploaded/downloaded. everything these industries have done til now has moved slowly but ever surely towards that goal and almost every single government is doing whatever it possibly can, not just to allow it but to actively help it in every way possible! an earlier article said about making a new ‘net that was stronger than what we have because of the attacks happening that seem to be aimed at trying to take done the whole thing. we need one to counter what these selfish, non-essential fuckers are trying to take away from the rest of the world, one that they cant screw up, just to aid themselves, one that can advance for the good of everyone!

Anonymous Coward says:

The cited crap is not a proposal as such, but more of a roadmap to hell.

The newest part of actual proposals is the avmsd which is the regulation of content industry like flow-tv, radio, netflix, youtube etc. etc.

Regarding the “upload filtering”, the EP committee seems to agree that it is complete bullshit. It seems unlikely that it will pass in its current extraordinarily stupid form. Still, it seems to agree to very strict requirement on the “for the children”-fallacy and “against terrorism”.

Regarding the 20 % european content requirement, the committee is raising the insanity to 30 %?

The council is very split on the european content requirement: Scandinavia is against the restriction, France finds 20 % far too low and other countries generally seems fine with it as they already have such requirements. Thus, it looks like it can easily pass!

There are some vague language on excemptions being given to small services, yadda, yadda, yadda. It is the kind of vague language that is so typical and so inappropriate in most EU regulation.

Wyrm (profile) says:

Is that a challenge?

“The European Commission has proposed a Copyright Directive that could not conceivably be worse.”

I’m sure it could be. Do you really want them to prove you wrong?

Joke aside, it is terrible, but not surprising. Lobbying works as well in EU as it does in US: powerful legacy companies have the means to influence law-making and the “public interest” is just seen as a poor and poorly connected lobby rather than the main purpose of the law.

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