After Insisting That EU Copyright Directive Didn't Require Filters, France Immediately Starts Promoting Filters

from the because-of-course dept

For months now we’ve all heard the refrain: Article 13 (now Article 17) of the EU Copyright Directive would not require filters. We all knew it was untrue. We pointed out many times that it was untrue, and that there was literally no way to comply unless you implemented filters (filters that wouldn’t work and would ban legitimate speech), and were yelled at for pointing this out. Here’s the MEP in charge of the Directive flat out insisting that it won’t require filters last year:

Over and over and over again, this is what they insisted. Of course, we all knew it wasn’t true, and the German government quietly admitted that filters were necessary a few weeks ago. That didn’t stop the vote from happening, of course, and the Parliament questionably moving forward with this plan. Still, it’s rather striking that just a day after the vote, as pointed out to us by Benjamin Henrion, France’s Minister for Culture gave a speech in which he admits that it requires filters and hopes that France will implement the law as quickly as possible in order to start locking down the internet. The quotes here are based on Google translate, so they may not be perfect, but you get the idea. Incredibly, in talking about the Directive, Riester starts off by saying that the passing of the Directive was “despite massive campaigns of misinformation” which seems rather ironic, since it’s now clear the misinformation came from those who insisted it didn’t require filters, because soon after that he says:

I also announce that the Higher Council of Literary and Artistic Property, the HADOPI and the CNC will jointly launch in the coming days a “Mission to promote and supervise content recognition technologies”.

In other words, now that the law is passed, it’s time for everyone to install filters.

Riester also suggests that France may be the first to transpose the Directive into French law, meaning that it may be implemented long before required under the Directive. As he said: “there is no time to lose on this subject.” If you’re a site that has any user-generated content in France, good luck. Your government just sold you out. Of course, if you’re a company selling filters, I guess send your lobbyists over to Paris quick and cash in.

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Comments on “After Insisting That EU Copyright Directive Didn't Require Filters, France Immediately Starts Promoting Filters”

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89 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Filters are censorship

When alcohol was banned, it didn’t stop the consumption of alcohol. The consumers wanted their stuff, so they got it. Being labeled criminal didn’t matter much, it was obvious the law was insane.

The newest incarnation of insanity (EU copyright directive) will have similar effect. The pirate bays, getting ever emptier, will once again appear to be the great new heaven to escape from the insanity. I.e. one operator of the piracy function deterioated much, thus tipping the result in favor of piracy.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Filters are censorship

Except you can’t get around this law like you can others. If the thing that is impacted is publishing information on the public internet, then going underground with that to somewhere the public can’t see it defeats the purpose. Piracy was never going to be affected by this law and is a red herring.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Filters are censorship

"If the thing that is impacted is publishing information on the public internet, then going underground with that to somewhere the public can’t see it defeats the purpose. Piracy was never going to be affected by this law and is a red herring."

Not according to the public portrayal of the legislation – from the lobbyists backing it.

The reality is what we just discussed – legitimate venues will become conspicuously inconvenient to use, rolling us right back to the 1990’s where piracy was the be-all, end-all of obtaining entertainment.

"Except you can’t get around this law like you can others."

The point is that you can – much as it was with prohibition there is a demand which will be met. The law will make so much of normal legitimate online interactions so odious the default will become circumvention from the consumer side.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Filters are censorship

The point is that you can

OK, let’s pretend we’re in Europe (maybe you are I have no idea) and TechDirt is a European web site. TD doesn’t have the money to implement filters or risk gigantic fines, so they close down the comments on their articles. How do we get around the law to continue publicly discussing TD’s content?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Filters are censorship

Facebook, who will pay all the license fees for all content that has ever existed or will exist. You will find the correct FB page by searching using Google, who will pay all the license fees for all content that has ever existed or will exist.

Now everyone is happy, see! Win-win

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Filters are censorship

"How do we get around the law to continue publicly discussing TD’s content?"

We use a VPN and set the entrance node to the US or Canada. The burden will be on TD – which would take no legal risks being open to Canadian or US commenters as long as Mike geoblocks the hell out of any ip address currently registering as european.
That puts TD in the clear.

And we are in the clear since it would be a truly dreadful law which required individuals to not travel or communicate across national boundaries.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Filters are censorship

The VPN idea sounds great, but would it really get around the law? Common sense says "of course a web site can’t be held liable for not knowing a VPN user is in Europe" but who wants to bet the future of their business on the intersection of European law and common sense? Does the article specify that the penalties don’t apply to VPN users? I don’t remember seeing anything about that, and I’ve read it. I can easily see a prosecutor setting up a demonstration for a judge involving unlicensed copyrighted material accessed from Europe via a VPN, followed by massive fines.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Filters are censorship

"Common sense says "of course a web site can’t be held liable for not knowing a VPN user is in Europe" but who wants to bet the future of their business on the intersection of European law and common sense?"

Actually it’s pretty clear cut that a lawyer will say the same.

Because the terrible thing is that if that liability exists then american citizens and companies will similarly have to be held liable under the very european article 13.

"Does the article specify that the penalties don’t apply to VPN users?"

The law doesn’t specify the user at all. It targets the platform. It also only applies to the platform being forced by law to implement extremely stringent filtering under EU law.
So unless they radically rewrite and amend the entire directive to include user liability the user and VPN do not come into this equation. Should the directive be so amended it’s pretty clear that’s a violation of the EU charter and the directive will fall due to the ECJ, the same way the data retention directive did.

"I can easily see a prosecutor setting up a demonstration for a judge involving unlicensed copyrighted material accessed from Europe via a VPN, followed by massive fines."

At which point, if the platform is american, it asks why there were no takedown requests, gains safe harbor, and the case dies.
Or if it was a european platform, the platform dies because there is no excuse.

So the argument still stands; If a european citizen accesses a US-based platform from a US exit node then there is no issue. If the EU citizen uploads material to youtube(US) there is no issue, if the material in question survives takedown processes.

If the european tries to access youtube from the EU pot odds are he won’t be able to upload – or view – anything on it.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Filters are censorship

"What is left after linking, file transfers, and uploads are all banned?"

Everything.

Just not legitimately.
There’s a massive motivation on all levels of society as a whole to utilize the internet to capacity and so it will be utilized. The same tools currently used by filesharers and the security-conscious will be used as the default by everyone since, at least as far as the EU is concerned, the open network will be a barren wasteland only populated by gatekeeper corporations.

We’ve seen this before, and it always ends up the same – as a damning reminder that no communications technology will ever be subject to meaningful and effective regulation.

Anonymous Coward says:

the whole aim has and always will be to enhance the control of everything and everyone, everywhere by the entertainment industries! when even the timing and order of the vote for this despicable law had to be suddenly changed, just so it would be voted in, it shows how bad it is and how desperate those who wanted it brought in were to get it so! it doesn’t excuse those MEPs who are now crying that they didn’t realise what they were voting on. they are supposed to be intelligent people, in charge of ensuring the public dont get screwed. when they cant be bothered to pay enough attention to what is happening and then vote ‘the wrong way on the wrong topic’, we know we’re in deep shit! i still cant help but wonder if these people are in fact just trying to cry wolf in a vain attempt to keep their jobs when the MEPs are voted into place in a few weeks time, and knew all along what they were voting for but now, as in the time honored fashion of the lying assholes who are politicians, cant even grow a pair and admit what they have done!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So when the order of the vote was changed, WHICH groups were notified of the change (to make them ‘not confused’ when they voted) and by WHOM? This is the real question that should be asked, not that there would be an actual answer, but I’m sure we know…

Those who wanted to lock down the internet were notified by their owners (aka lobbiests) as to the change in the vote order…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Is...

"but the needed code is already written and set to be used as soon as it’s needed."

You mean the one-line script which adds european domains to the dmca blacklist? Not much of a job to write. Google and YT can implement that one in five minutes, from the second they get the goahead to roll it into the production stack.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course, if you’re a company selling filters, I guess send your lobbyists over to Paris quick and cash in.

Or, you know, don’t. Because when your filters fail to prevent anything from being posted and the company who bought your filters gets a hefty fine guess who is going to get sued to cover the costs of that fine?

The EU has forced every company that hosts user-generated content to reinvent filtering on their own, go out of business or block the EU (until everywhere else adopts the EU’s idiocy).

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"It’ll protect the filter company though."

It certainly will. There’s at least one snake oil salesman waiting in the wings who was backing article 13(17) for all they were worth.

Snake oil is snake oil though. As the filter needs to be 100% correct in not allowing infringing material, and that’s very far from what content id (the best filter currently in existence) can provide, it’s pretty much a given that there will be numerous actors pushing relatively cheap and non-functional solutions onto platforms dumb enough to trust them.

After which one copyright troll will suffice to put that platform out of business.

This leaves any platform which wants to do business in the EU and has an accurate assessment of reality with one of two options; Spending 100 million USD on filter development, or buy a license to use contentid (arguably almost as expensive).

Pretty much given it takes exactly one five minute cost-benefit analysis to come up with the conclusion that doing business in the EU isn’t profitable at all.

Youtube, with a filter already paid for and developed, can risk it – but will have to tighten filtering paradigm by a lot, as the current operation still results in takedowns. Service will turn to shit in any nation to implement the directive, effective immediately.

France has historically led the march into incredibly bad decisions where immaterial rights are concerned and this time around promises to be no different. Vive la France

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The platform trying to buy that expensive filter will remain liable since article 13 (17) does not care about the means, only the result.

I was replying to someone saying the buyer of the filter will sue the seller of the filter. The buyer will not be able to (successfully) sue the seller for any failures because the seller will require indemnification in the sale contract.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"The buyer will not be able to (successfully) sue the seller for any failures because the seller will require indemnification in the sale contract."

Mea maxima culpa.

Possible. There are a few provisions under EU common consumer protection law which tend to override contracted indemnification. Some protections you can’t sign away.

Although I do believe you can do so with damage claims and 3rd party responsibility.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Top of the hour

And Jhon lamented and rent his little remaining hair and said unto the lord. “Why has thou forsaken me and rendered me as fertile as the desert. And why lord do the children of Israel flock upon my manicured garden. And I yell and yell, “You must leave children of Israel for this is my manicured garden.” And they remain as unmoving as Lots wife.”

btr1701 (profile) says:

If you’re a site that has any user-generated content in France, good luck.

I still don’t get why the rest of the world needs to worry about this. Unless you have a physical presence in France/EU, you’re not subject to this idiocy.

If, for example, I’m a dung beetle enthusiast living in Alabama and I create a website celebrating dung beetles in all their glory, with a discussion forum and a gallery where people can upload their favorite dung beetle photos and songs they’ve written praising the mighty poop bug, I don’t care if some of the fans who participate on my site are in France or not. I’m a U.S. citizen, in the U.S., with no physical presence in France, and therefore not subject to French (or EU) law. I sure as hell don’t have to pre-filter and/or license every comment and file that’s uploaded to my forum.

If France doesn’t like how I’m running my site, France can block access to my site from within France but that’s the sum total of their recourse against me.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to run my dung beetle wiki the same as I always have. All hail the beetle!

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"I’m a U.S. citizen, in the U.S., with no physical presence in France, and therefore not subject to French (or EU) law. I sure as hell don’t have to pre-filter and/or license every comment and file that’s uploaded to my forum."

Here’s the issue in a nutshell – no one from using a european ip address will be able to get your webpage through any search result. So unless all your fans come in from europe through word of mouth and manually sent-out URL’s, you won’t get european visitors oohing and aahing over your mighty celebrated low-grade scarabees.

And that’s how the EU’s hamfisted shit-show will impact your readership of poop bug enthusiasts.

Primo Geek (profile) says:

Not just the EU

What I don’t understand is how, legally and practically, this won’t also apply to users everywhere in the world. Sure the Facebooks of the world can implement geofencing. However, geo-fencing is not 100% accurate and do they want to take on the legal liability of that risk? What if an EU user posts to .com instead of .fr? Don’t you think that France would haul that company into court especially if they have a presence there? We all know filtering sucks so how many companies will just prohibit posting because it raises too much of a legal risk? Also, practically speaking, do they want to spend the money to have two development teams building two different products?

I’m a glass half-empty person but I think non-EU users should be worried about this.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Not just the EU

"I’m a glass half-empty person but I think non-EU users should be worried about this."

I am sure they are, however, from the outside the issues are different than from the inside. The idea that sovereignty’s can enforce their rules anywhere that is not their sovereignty is something that will come under greater and greater scrutiny as more and more bully’s try to impose their will.

Unfortunately there will be some deep hurt to those that become the test cases, in the beginning. Also, unfortunately there will be no holding those bully’s accountable for their misbehavior prior to being told in no uncertain terms that they don’t have standing to enforce rules outside their jurisdiction.

Anonymous Coward says:

If i was an artist i,d do a cartoon,
in the middle is a giant robot,
with dozens of arms,
crushing ants or small creatures .
The robot is the eu commission, the ants are small artists,
creators whose freedom is now almost gone.
They have the choice of signing up with old legacy companys or else face having most of their content blocked in the eu.
The eu web will be ruled by filters and bots which will likely
block most content uploaded by users
or mainly only allow content licensed by sony, fox, cbs etc
which is properly licensed .
Maybe the council for liberty can explain how this magic filter can work ,it ,ll block all illegal content,
while allowing uploads that are reviews, parodys, fair use ,
commentary .
And explain how small websites that do not have millions
to install filters will not shutdown,
eu countrys have 2 years to bring in laws to follow the
directive.
Each country could have slightly different laws ,
depending on how they choose to follow the directive
based on their constitution.
There should be a sign in front the eu commision.
Artists, creators, welcome your robotic overlords.
Content filters,algorithm,s ,bots .

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Please stop with the line breaks. Use the preview button, and consider if that looks like something you would like to read. Here is your comment formatted more reasonably:

If i was an artist i,d do a cartoon, in the middle is a giant robot, with dozens of arms, crushing ants or small creatures. The robot is the eu commission, the ants are small artists, creators whose freedom is now almost gone. They have the choice of signing up with old legacy companys or else face having most of their content blocked in the eu. The eu web will be ruled by filters and bots which will likely block most content uploaded by users
or mainly only allow content licensed by sony, fox, cbs etc which is properly licensed.

Maybe the council for liberty can explain how this magic filter can work ,it ,ll block all illegal content, while allowing uploads that are reviews, parodys, fair use, commentary. And explain how small websites that do not have millions to install filters will not shutdown, eu countrys have 2 years to bring in laws to follow the directive. Each country could have slightly different laws, depending on how they choose to follow the directive based on their constitution. There should be a sign in front the eu commision. Artists, creators, welcome your robotic overlords. Content filters,algorithm,s ,bots .

See how much more readable that is? I mean it still has many serious problems, but it’s much better, and actually easier to do that way.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Quoting my previous post about this anon:

I dunno what that particular anon’s deal is, but I see posts like that in a number of threads. Copy-and-paste could explain the weird linebreaks, but not the weird spaces and use of commas instead of apostrophes.

I’m inclined to cut the poster some slack in case they’re disabled or not a native English speaker or otherwise have some difficulty that’s not their fault. But yeah, those posts sure are hard to read.

Petr Reo (profile) says:

What did the French said, actually? please ?

After being flabbergasted by this report of such brazen act of public promotion of the filters a.k.a algorithmic measures by French minister ->

-> I thought I will smack that text of the French over the head of our MEP who was trying to assure us, that filters are just fake news.

-> So I needed to find it in the actual text of the French… and I am flabbergasted again. Is it really there?

  • Surely he, the minister, was boasting stupidly over the new directive and its impact on French cultural ambitions…
  • however I couldn’t detect anything remotely similar to admitting anything- no less need for filters.

I did use machine translation into english though. It is rather good and intelligible – it might have shifted meaning somewhere though?

Where is it? What exactly was he trying to say in what contrxt? PLEASE!?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: What did the French said, actually? please ?

Where is it?

Here: ‘I also announce that the Higher Council of Literary and Artistic Property, the HADOPI and the CNC will jointly launch in the coming days a "Mission to promote and supervise content recognition technologies".’

"Content recognition technologies" means content filters.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

BANNING MEMES

"i somewhere hear that EU is banning MeMes?"

Not outright.

Article 13(17) just demands that any copyrighted work is automatically disallowed from being uploaded to online platforms.
The one and only way to do so is to use filtering technology.

And filtering technology will not see the difference between an infringing image or movie clip or one with a caption on it/otherwise in agreement with fair use, therefore quite a lot of memes will be banned in practice as the platforms won’t have a way to tell what is legal and what is not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: BANNING MEMES

Article 13(17) just demands that any copyrighted work is automatically disallowed from being uploaded to online platforms.

All works are copyrighted, unless in the public domain. Therefore no works under copyright can be uploaded, so here have another copy of Shakespear’s plays.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: BANNING MEMES

"All works are copyrighted, unless in the public domain. Therefore no works under copyright can be uploaded, so here have another copy of Shakespear’s plays."

The main difference bwteen pre-article 13(17) and post is this;

Today, before national implementation of the article, an uploader can post a derivative allowed under fair use legislation – memes, parodies, reviews, etc.
If a stakeholder finds there’s infringement they can demand a take-down. All the copyright trolls and automated takedown bots aside this does allow fair use to exist online.

Post national implementation of the article the platform can’t take the risk of allowing any possibly infringing upload. What used to be a takedown will be an immediate civil charge. So the upload of a captioned meme image or gif (humor/parody), or excerpt for review purposes, is hazardous and no one will risk it unless they have far greater faith in filtering tech than the actual filtering technology experts.

Also, Shakespeare’s works are public domain, but since books of those works have been published under copyright, the filter WILL trigger over shakespeare as well.

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