Supporters Of Article 13, After Denying It's About Filters, Now Say It's About Regulating Filters Which They Admit Don't Work
from the get-your-freaking-story-straight dept
As the EU Parliament gets ready to vote on the EU Copyright Directive and Articles 11 and 13, the desperation from the supporters of these laws is reaching a fever pitch. It’s gotten to the point that their own arguments no longer make any sense and are totally inconsistent with what they’ve been saying for months. Late last week, a new group sprung up with a website called Manifesto4copyright.eu. It is an astounding document in so many ways, not the least of which is it admits that Article 13 is about filters, while also admitting that filters don’t work.
It starts off with a huge misrepresentation: that the authors supporting it are for an “open and fair internet without censorship.” Except that’s belied by the rest of the “manifesto,” which makes about as much sense as any other ranting internet manifesto:
We all live among the digital revolution. We want to shape it, not prevent it. Authors must be paid. Therefore, the internet needs good rules. There is no freedom without rules! Otherwise, only the strongest will prevail as has happened with the internet-giants. We are no technophobes. We want good governance for the digital world. We want an open and fair internet.
Authors are paid. If they sell their works to willing customers, they get paid. Nothing has changed. Indeed, artists are making more money than ever before. Also, what’s with the Orwellian “there is no freedom without rules” line in there?
Of course, the next paragraph suggests who might actually be behind this particular manifesto. See if you can figure it out by looking at the “myths” they claim they are busting:
The criticism we have is merely of the myths and fighting talk, which are poisoning the current debate: A free internet at no charge, publishers as evil exploiters, authors ripped off by collecting societies, the enforcement of copyright as censorship.
Wait, who’s asking for an internet free of charge? No one that I know of. And also, if you don’t believe that copyright is frequently and regularly used for censorship, you simply have not been paying attention and have no place in this debate. You are ignorant.
But, let’s focus in on the other one: complaining that it’s a myth that publishers and collection societies rip off those they supposedly represent. I’m guessing that this manifesto was put together by those very collection societies. And since they insist this is a myth, let’s go for a little walk down memory lane about collection societies.
- There was the Spanish collection society, SGAE which was raided by the police after its top execs were accused of stealing $550 million from artists.
- A UK government-backed inquiry into abuse by collection societies received so many entries from people so angry that it felt it needed to block their release.
- In the US, ASCAP both announced that it was taking in more money than ever and that it was cutting payments to artists on the same day.
- In India, courts had to step in to block collection societies from collecting money from concerts they had no right to collect money from.
- In Germany, GEMA told musicians that they were simply not allowed to offer music for free as it would violate GEMA’s rules.
- In Peru, another corruption scandal found that a collection society there was diverting revenue from artists to friends.
- In Kenya, a collection society was found to be paying less than one-third of the money it was supposed to be giving out. That resulted in a court having to step in and bar the collection society from continuing to collect.
- In France, the local collection society made bands pay the collection society in order to make their own albums, and again in order to get paid the money they are owed.
And those are just a few quick examples from Techdirt in doing a quick search. There are many, many, many more such stories. In 2012 there was an entire paper detailing more examples. And, since that was 7 years ago, last year, a second version of the paper was published with even more examples.
So, gee, I wonder where we get the idea that collection societies rip off creators?
And, from there, things get even weirder in the manifesto:
Google and Facebook are already using filter algorithms. They filter not only ? as intended ? illegal content (e.g. pornographic or terrorist content), but also completely legal content (e.g. photos of naked bodies). They do so arbitrarily and without democratic regulation. The new directive, however, will regulate filters. At the same time, the platforms currently earn their money by making third parties? content accessible and advertising it, without paying appropriate fees to the creators of this content ? photographers, musicians, authors, graphic artists. This is where the new directive on European copyright law comes in: Article 13 regulates how licensing works for platforms. Platforms should pay creatives fair and reasonable remuneration by obtaining licences for the global repertoire. If they have such flat-rate licences from collecting societies, they do not need to filter content.
Google and Facebook are already using filters. We agree. But then… it admits that the filters don’t work, because they work “arbitrarily.” And then they admit that Article 13 will “regulate filters” which apparently no one told them they’re not supposed to admit to until after Article 13 becomes law. Indeed, every time we mention that Article 13 will require filters, someone shows up in our comments with some demand about how the law says nothing anywhere about filters. Yet here, whoever is behind this manifesto appears to be arguing the following:
- Google and Facebook already use filters.
- Those filters are arbitrary and block legal content
- Article 13 will “regulate filters”
- And then they don’t need to use filters any more.
I’m honestly stumped. It’s true that filters don’t work very well. But nothing in Article 13 fixes that. I think they’re trying to say that if companies just pay to license up every bit of content (i.e., throw lots of money at collection societies described above) then they won’t need to use filters any more, but that is not what Article 13 says by any stretch of the imagination. First, for that to be true, it would only apply if a site could be guaranteed that it was even possible to license every possible bit of content ever. Which it is not. And thus, they would still need to use filters. Which will lead to mass, automated censorship.
The manifesto goes on from there, with some other nonsense — such insisting that “Memes are safe!” — but it’s really not worth spending more time on it, other than to suggest that if this is truly the best that collection societies could do with their propaganda, perhaps next time they should pay their writers more to write something coherent, and which doesn’t disagree with basically all the other lobbying messaging about Article 13.