Why A 'Clever Hack' Against Nazis Shows How Upload Filters Have Made Copyright Law Even More Broken
from the cloak-of-invisibility dept
As Techdirt has pointed out many times, one of the biggest problems with the EU Copyright Directive’s upload filters is that they will necessarily be automated, which means they will inevitably be flawed. After all, it can take the EU’s top judges weeks to decide complex questions about whether something is copyright infringement or not. And yet Article 13/17 expects software to do the same in microseconds. This kind of collateral damage from clueless algorithms is already happening, albeit on a small scale. Boing Boing has an interesting new twist on this problem. Cory Doctorow writes about an idea that RJ Jones mentioned on Twitter:
My friend gave me a tip! If you need to drown out fascists, bring a speaker & play copyrighted music at their rallies cause it will be easy to report their videos & get them taken down for copyright.
Once the EU’s upload filters are in place, it won’t even be necessary to report the videos: they will almost certainly be blocked automatically by algorithms that don’t know about fair use and the like. But Doctorow points out a big problem with this idea:
The thing is, as much as it’s a cute way to sabotage Nazis’ attempts to spread their messages, there is nothing about this that prevents it from being used against anyone. Are you a cop who’s removed his bodycam before wading into a protest with your nightstick? Just play some loud copyrighted music from your cruiser and you’ll make all the videos of the beatings you dole out un-postable.
As this underlines, using copyright material in the background creates a kind of cloak of invisibility for the foreground actors — both good and bad — that makes certain videos impossible to post to the Internet if upload filters are in place. This is not what copyright is supposed to do. It shows how far copyright has been perverted from its original purpose — “the Encouragement of Learning”, as the 1710 Statute of Anne puts it. The problem arises from the use of dumb algorithms that don’t understand the context of the copyright material they are filtering. It confirms once more what an incredibly stupid idea it was for EU lawmakers to allow Article 13/17 to pass.