Germany Wants To Limit Memes And Mashups Derived From Press Publishers' Material To 128-by-128 Pixels In Resolution, And Three Seconds In Length

from the yeah,-that-sounds-totally-reasonable dept

Last month, Mike wrote about France’s awful proposals for implementing the EU Copyright Directive’s upload filter (originally known as Article 13, but Article 17 in the final version). Just as France was the most vocal proponent of this dangerous development, so Germany was the main driving force behind the ancillary copyright requirement, also known as the snippet or link tax. And like France, Germany has managed to make its proposed national implementation (original in German) of what was Article 11, now Article 15, even worse than the general framework handed down by the EU. The former Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda has a Twitter thread (in German) that picks out the main bad ideas. Under the German proposals, in general only “single words or very short extracts” of a press article can be quoted without a license. Specifically, free quotation is limited to:

the headline

a small-format preview image with a resolution of 128-by-128 pixels

a sequence of sounds, images or videos with a duration of up to three seconds

The proposal states that the new ancillary copyright does not apply to hyperlinks, or to “private or non-commercial use” of press publishers’ materials by a single user. However, as we know from the tortured history of the Creative Commons “non-commercial” license, it is by no means clear what “non-commercial” means in practice. Press publishers are quite likely to insist that posting memes on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter — all undoubtedly commercial in nature — is not allowed in general under the EU Copyright Directive. We won’t know until top EU courts rule on the details, which will take years. In the meantime, online services will doubtless prefer to err on the side of caution, keen to avoid the risk of heavy fines. It is likely they will configure their automated filters to block any use of press publishers’ material that goes beyond the extremely restrictive limits listed above. Moreover, this will probably apply across the EU, not just in Germany, since setting up country-by-country upload filters is more expensive. Far easier to roll out the most restrictive rules across the whole region.

Before the new laws go into operation, people can submit their views to the German government at the email address

konsultation-urheberrecht@bmjv.bund.de

until 31 January 2020. Now might be a good time to remind the German lawmakers — politely — that supporters of the EU Copyright Directive insisted repeatedly that memes were “exempt” and “safe” under the new rules. Germany’s unbalanced and extreme implementation shows that simply isn’t true, and means that memes and mashups are most definitely under threat — just as many of us warned.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

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Comments on “Germany Wants To Limit Memes And Mashups Derived From Press Publishers' Material To 128-by-128 Pixels In Resolution, And Three Seconds In Length”

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43 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Imagine a law that said you were not allowed to urinate even in legally constructed toilets, or in your own house. That’s what the original copyright laws said.

And now imagine a new law that says you can urinate, but only in one designated location in the country, and that toilet involves a hole the size of a pinprick, and the legal urination process requires you to rest your balls on a bed of chainsaws.

That’s the reality you want everyone else to live in. Fuck that noise.

tp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

you were not allowed to urinate

there are many places where such thing is not allowed:
1) public places like train stations, under bridges, golf courses, next to shopping malls, swimming pools, tourist destinations, museums etc
2) safety issues, like trains, electricity outlets, lightning strikes, under power lines
3) environmental issues, like you’re not allowed to build sewers in locations where they obtain drinking water from

Are you claiming all these limitations on urinating are somehow not needed?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

"Are you claiming that a law banning urinating in your own home toilet is therefore reasonable, then?"

TP appears to be claiming exactly that. And delivers as arguments against being able to urinate in your own toilet bowl the rhetoric argument that "there are many laws against public urination".

As fine a chewbacca defense as I’ve ever seen.

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
tp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

he’s claiming that the extra restrictions that you ignored him mentioning would be a bad thing.

they did not seem to be too bad when previous rules were in effect. The meme authors just took some copyright risks when they consider their memes to be more important than following copyright laws.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

"they did not seem to be too bad when previous rules were in effect’

Which has what to do about disliking the new rules, exactly?

"they consider their memes to be more important than following copyright laws"

They did comply with copyright rules, you blithering idiot. That’s why people are unhappy when the rules are potentially changing.

tp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

They did comply with copyright rules, you blithering idiot.

They did not, assuming the information about their need to borrow press publisher’s material is accurate. The previous version of copyright laws did not allow this borrow operation at all, and thus all the sites that assumed it to be allowed were criminal organisations.

Proper sites (like slashdot) had their own reporters rewriting the newsfeed in such way that publisher’s material is not visible in the front page. (while the news being derived from publisher’s material is still dubious, even attempting to give their own view is better practise.) Reality in internet is just wild west in copyright area. Some entities are attempting to do it correctly.

Obviously meme authors wouldn’t be so angry about new rules, if they had not had issues following copyright laws in the past.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Actually, under previous copyright laws, a lot of memes would be considered “fair use”, which this law doesn’t consider at all.

Obviously meme authors wouldn’t be so angry about new rules, if they had not had issues following copyright laws in the past.

Uhhhh… what? That logic makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The new copyright laws are more restrictive than the old ones, so some things that complied with the old rules won’t comply with the new ones.

Also, unlike the old rules, these rules impose an inalienable right to licensing fees, so even if someone has no interest in charging licensing fees or is okay with the work being used in such a manner, even if it was done without prior permission, some stuff that would be allowed by the author no longer can be.

So yeah, your logic is completely invalid.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"Are you claiming all these limitations on urinating are somehow not needed?"

You somehow turn a comment about a person’s own house into a rhetorical non sequitor involving public places and drinking water.

Why am I not too surprised to see that you are, as usual, completely unable to retort to an argument without moving the goalposts to the other side of the globe?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

"They’re just misunderstanding what copyright and the law says about urinating."

Less so than you who regularly conflates your own rather twisted ideas about what copyright is and how it works with actual judicial precedent.

Now consider that comedy and parody have always been fair use exceptions in most jurisdictions and try again.

Every now and then German maximalists try pushing the envelope – not too surprising given that the main perpetrator, GEMA, hasn’t changed it’s culture much since Hitler invented it.

Fortunately that only ever lasts long enough for either the public as a whole to wholeheartedly reject it or for the constitutional courts to strike it down.

The reality is that this proposal simply provides yet more incentive for meme pundits to start putting their higher-quality images and gifs through tor-mediated links. Which, in the end, only serves to move MORE of the public internet into the darknet avenue.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Another reason why copyright needs to die. It’s long since failed at fulfilling it’s original purpose. Now it exists only as a censorship and profiteering tool, and this is just yet another example of that fact. Society no longer receives the benefits they are entitled to for granting copyrights, it’s time to end copyright.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Train wreck ahead

I still don’t get how the news publishers don’t see links with short extracts as free advertising.

They’re bonkers.

And, when this is implemented their traffic will drop as will their revenue and we’ll all get to say:

We warned you

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Google: If we stop carrying your stuff, your traffic is going to drop.

Newspapers: We don’t care!

[Google stops carrying news excerpts from certain papers, whose traffic drops tremendously as a result]

Newspapers: [surprised Pikachu face]

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

While using a meme was certainly fitting in this case it isn’t quite accurate, as past responses indicated that the last step would be more appropriate as…

Newspapers: (running to the courts with tears in their eyes) Judge, Google’s being mean to us again, make them give us money!

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"Newspapers: (running to the courts with tears in their eyes) Judge, Google’s being mean to us again, make them give us money!"

I wish I could say that no one’s that dumb.

But alas the likely outcome will be that the courts possibly comply after which Google gives europe up as a bad job and europe drops twenty years behind in IT economy and infrastructure.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Train wreck ahead

"I still don’t get how the news publishers don’t see links with short extracts as free advertising."

It varies. With some, they’re just bad at monetising traffic. With others, it’s because the articles are AP feeds repackaged as clickbait, so they know that there’s no value to what they publish outside of the visible extract.

"And, when this is implemented their traffic will drop as will their revenue and we’ll all get to say:

We warned you"

…and they will yet again blame someone else and/or try to force Google to pay them for their bad business decisions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Train wreck ahead

They do they just want sites to pay to direct people to them as the big legacy publishers feel that the money made by the likes of twitter/facebook/google has been ‘stolen’ from them.

Its also about control if you make it illegal to link to news sites then yes it hurts the big players but at the same time it kills off the smaller sites (such as Techdirt) because if you cannot search for news sites then you’ll be forced to go to them directly and the majority will turn to the major newspaper sites as they know their names, which means the newspaper can go back to controlling the news cycle and no longer worry about having to compete with internet sites (that may also point out the misleading rubbish they are publishing).

Anonymous Coward says:

Germany clearly wants someone to create exactly one 128×128 (might as well go full 24-bit color, since 32-bit color is typically/always 24+alpha) image to represent Germany in all cases (except for the case where it’s a 128×128 by 3s gif, or similar). That one image, and one 3s clip will be the only legal reference to … [country.gif].

Anonymous Coward says:

They could have set the resolution for images at 1024×768,
no one wants to look at 128×128 images,
this is basicaly an attack on free speech,
will blogs that have a small amount of advertising to pay for server costs be exempt from this,will charity websites that take donations be exempt ?
As in other laws sites like facebook or youtube will just follow the most extreme laws passed , so users will be effected by this even if the french or italian government have more liberal proposals to allow non profits and personal blogs to be exempt from these laws .

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Nathan F (profile) says:

Do you want people to ignore your copyright laws, because this is how you go about it.

Do you want services to stop doing business in your country due to it being too expensive to comply, because that is what is going to happen.

I don’t understand why these lawmakers aren’t looking at what is happening in the real world and crafting their laws to keep it within reasonable limits as opposed to whatever the loudest group says they want.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Giving it back where it belongs

(and handing over cash to Pink Floyd….

Whereupon Pink Floyd then gives it all up to Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford.

Yes, that Berry Gordy who started Motown Records, nee Tamla Records. Barrett Strong singing "Money" was his 8th release, and the propellant to MoTown becoming a force in the music biz.

Fun fact: Barrett Strong was also the author of "Heard It Through The Grapevine" and other Motown hits.

Fun fact #2: The song was originally released in 1959, right in the midst of the Payola Scandal. Good times, good times. 😉

sumgai

Anonymous Coward says:

the whole aim of Articles 15 and 17 were to make it a definite that the lazy fucking publishers of news pieces were able to milk from others rather than doing what they were supposed to, report! the stupidity is that all the ‘repeated’ articles did was benefit them anyway, with links and/or mentions of the original stories, where and by whom. with what happened as far as Spain and Google were concerned, the same needs to happen again so that no extra mention of any news takes place.
until the ‘entertainment industries’ in all their forms are reined in, and copyright is taken out of politicians pockets, because if they are not being financially encouraged to back them, i’ll be a Dutchman’s uncle, then out of the position they have placed it, ie, on a massive pedestal, a few are going to keep dictating who can do what, see what, read what, while the rest of us go without! that is an unsustainable situation that needs addressing asap!!

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That One Guy (profile) says:

I am shocked, shocked I say!

Now might be a good time to remind the German lawmakers — politely — that supporters of the EU Copyright Directive insisted repeatedly that memes were "exempt" and "safe" under the new rules.

You mean to tell me that copyright maximalists lied in order to defend their actions? I… just don’t know what to say, I mean who could have ever seen something like that coming?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I am shocked, shocked I say!

"I didn’t," said Ajit Pai, taking a deep sip from his mug. "I’m pretty sure the EU Copyright Directive never lies, it’s copyright after all. In any case, now that net neutrality is dead, I need one billion Euros to kill net neutrality. Also Richard Bennett needs a full colonic irrigation. This is all very important for investments, I promise."

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