Free Software Foundation Europe Comes To Its Senses After Calling For EU To Fund Open Source Upload Filters
from the producing-better-shackles dept
Most EU digital rights groups are still reeling from the approval of the EU Copyright Directive and its deeply-flawed idea of upload filters, which will seriously harm the way the Internet operates in the region and beyond. Matters are made even worse by the fact that some MEPs claim they blundered when they voted — enough of them that Article 13 might have been removed from the legislation had they voted as they intended.
But one organization quick off the mark in its response was the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), the local offshoot of the main Free Software Foundation. Shortly after the EU vote, it issued a press release entitled “Copyright Directive — EU safeguards Free Software at the last minute”. This refers to a campaign spear-headed by the FSFE and Open Forum Europe called “Save Code Share” that sought successfully to exclude open source software sharing from Article 13. As the press release said:
We are glad we were able to raise awareness and understanding of what drives software development in Europe nowadays among many policy makers. The exclusion of Free Software code hosting and sharing providers from this directive is crucial to keep Free Software development in Europe healthy, solid and alive.
It went on to say:
As upload filters are now introduced, we urge the European Commission to avoid filtering monopolies by companies this directive actually intended to regulate.
That is, indeed, a real threat: Google has spent over $100 million developing its Content ID filtering system for YouTube. Few other companies will be able to match that. Rather ironically, Article 13 may end up giving Google a near-monopoly over large parts of the upload filtering market. Here?s how the FSFE proposed to tackle that problem:
We call on the European Commission to promote the dissemination of Free Software filter technologies, including financial support, for instance within the framework of research programmes Horizon2020 and Horizon Europe.
Perhaps the FSFE was so keen to promote free software everywhere that it didn’t really think this through. Anyway, a couple of days later, the FSFE came to its senses, and deleted the call for “Free Software filter technologies”, and half-apologized:
The original version of this press release urged the European Commission to act to avoid filtering-monopolies, but our description of our position on filters was unclear and incomplete. The FSFE is not, and has never been, in favour of developing “fundamentally flawed filtering technologies”. The FSFE has been fighting against upload filters since the beginning, e.g., as a signatory of Copyright for Creativity or Create Refresh, and joined more than 80 organisations asking the EU member states to reject the harmful Article 13 (now, Art. 17). The FSFE will support solutions to preserve users’ right to be in control of technology and ethical standards for service operators.
That’s more like it: the correct response to the authorities making shackles compulsory is not to try to make better shackles, but to point out how bad any kind of shackle is. The FSFE now seems to agree unequivocally.