EU's Mandatory Copyright Content Filter Is The Zombie That Just Never Dies

from the back-again dept

For the past few years, there's been a dedicated effort by some to get mandatory filters into EU copyright rules, despite the fact that this would destroy smaller websites, wouldn't work very well, and would create all sorts of other consequences the EU doesn't want, including suppression of free speech. Each time it pops up again, a few people who actually understand these things have to waste a ridiculous amount of time lobbying folks in Brussels to explain to them how disastrous the plan will be, and they back down. And then, magically, it comes back again.

That appeared to happen again last week. EU Parliament Member Julia Reda called attention to this by pointing out that, despite a promise that mandatory filters would be dropped, they had suddenly come back:

The draft of the proposal included a requirement that any site that doesn't have licensing agreements with rightsholders for any content on their site must take "appropriate and proportionate technical measures leading to the non-availability of copyright or related-right infringing works...." In other words, a mandatory filter.

Incredibly, as Reda discovered, despite the fact that this issue is now in the hands of the EU Parliament, rather than the EU Commission, the metadata on the draft rules showed it was created by the EU Commission. After meeting with the MEP who is in charge of this, Reda posted that that individual, Axel Voss, claimed it was a "mistake" to include the requirement for "technical measures" (uh, yeah, sure), but still plans to make platforms liable for any infringement on their platforms.

One of the many problems with this is that the people who demand these things tend to have little to no understanding of how the internet actually works. They get upset about finding some small amount of infringing content on a large internet platform (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) and demand mandatory filtering. Of course, both YouTube and Facebook already have expensive filters. But this impacts every other site as well -- sites that cannot afford such filtering.

Indeed, Github quickly published a blog post detailing how much harm this would do to its platform, which in turn would create a massive headache for open source software around the globe.

Upload filters (“censorship machines”) are one of the most controversial elements of the copyright proposal, raising a number of concerns, including:

  • Privacy: Upload filters are a form of surveillance, effectively a “general monitoring obligation” prohibited by EU law
  • Free speech: Requiring platforms to monitor content contradicts intermediary liability protections in EU law and creates incentives to remove content
  • Ineffectiveness: Content detection tools are flawed (generate false positives, don’t fit all kinds of content) and overly burdensome, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that might not be able to afford them or the resulting litigation

Upload filters are especially concerning for software developers given that:

  • Software developers create copyrightable works—their code—and those who choose an open source license want to allow that code to be shared
  • False positives (and negatives) are especially likely for software code because code often has many contributors and layers, often with different licensing for different components
  • Requiring code-hosting platforms to scan and automatically remove content could drastically impact software developers when their dependencies are removed due to false positives

A special site has been set up for people to let the EU Parliament know just how much damage this proposal would do to free and open source software.

Of course, the requirements would hit lots of other platforms as well. Given enough uproar, I imagine that they'll rewrite a few definitions just a bit to exempt Github. It appears that's what they did to deal with similar concerns about Wikipedia. But, that's no way to legislate. You don't just build in a list of exemptions as people point out to you how dumb your law is. You rethink the law.

Unfortunately, when it comes to this zombie censorship machine, it appears it's an issue that just won't die.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 12:29pm

    How do they expect the technical means to identify works where the copyright does not allow them to be posted, using the non existent central database of works, and what licenses have been granted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 2:47pm

      Re:

      The nerds will figure it out after nerding sufficiently hard.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Mar 2018 @ 2:23am

      Re:

      Magic!

      Seriously, that's the only possible effective way, unless the copyright system is reformed to enforce registration and a central database that can be queried.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2018 @ 7:04pm

        Re: Re:

        Hmmmm..... I guess we need to start having desprate people report to Central Licensing of the misdeeds of others. In other news, how's the special debugger firewall coming?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 12:32pm

    please explain to me why it is that when the public want something and it is defeated, why is that 'thing' never, ever allowed to be suggested again, yet when it's something that these industries want, not only is it able to be suggested time after time after time by officials who are supposed to be impartial, it never dies even when it is said to be dead? is it simply because these 'officials' are bribed and allowed to get away with being bribed? is it simply that, regardless of what is said, these topics will be allowed to keep coming back until they get voted through because it is the entertainment industries or a section of that want it in place and they wont stop until they get what they want, ie complete control of the 'net and the ability to continue to do fuck all while able to rake in money for ever?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 12:38pm

    If the concern is about people posting copyrighted (and presumably closed-source) code to Github, then how could filtering efforts possibly stop this? The obvious 'solution' of the site --as well as every open source repository-- having a filter database consisting of all closed-source/copyrighted code ever created would not be very practical for obvious reasons.

    Well, obvious to most anyone outside of Facebook, who apparently never saw any potentially negative consequences about its decision to ask everyone to submit their nude photographs of themselves so Facebook could check for any unauthorized use.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2018 @ 9:21am

      Uh, that's not how it works

      Your assumptions about how copyright and FOSS interact are way off base -- most FOSS code is still copyrighted, simply licensed under either a permissive (BSD/MIT model) or copyleft (GPL model) license. In fact, the GPL itself relies on copyright to function -- a fact that's lost on GPL violators, who find themselves committing copyright infringement as soon as they step outside the GPL's bounds.

      Besides: do you really expect a bot to understand mixed licensing scenarios, "scenes a faire", and code that mixes copyrightable and non-copyrightable elements?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2018 @ 10:12am

        Re: Uh, that's not how it works

        most FOSS code is still copyrighted

        And Github missed the biggest problem: if they scan for something, and find it, then what? How can an automated system possibly know whether it was authorized? This is true even without complex mixed licensing; if you upload the binary of a GPLed program, and the README has a working source code link it's probably fine. If not, it's non-compliant. More liberal licenses often still require a copyright statement.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Darkhog, 20 Mar 2018 @ 1:10pm

    Only one way to deal with zombies

    Shoot it in the head. Meaning, destroy any documents mentioning it until it'd be too costly to rewrite these from scratch. And I mean all digital and all hardcopies.

    Yes, the person who'd manage to pull it off most likely goes to jail, but not everything that's legal is right and vice versa.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 20 Mar 2018 @ 1:19pm

    MAYBE!!

    someone Does know what this would cause..
    Can you see all the Fonts being Copy protected, or extending CP to fonts that are in a NEW venue..
    Many companies have already LOCKED UP pictures to be rented/sold for use.. ANd it can be done. So Why is this happening.
    How about CP on News items??
    CP on Publishing.. Which would mean that Any distribution would Require Proof that it is/was purchasing or givin to the agency.

    There is 1 other thing about this..There are ways to protect your site and data..but Who is responsible? Forcing others to be responsible MEANS I dont have to do anything, except send out letters..
    Random letters going around looking for my data..
    But HOW to prove it is yours, and NOT someone elses, or a mis-sent Take down.

    Its also another Step to control Data on the net. Bombard a site with notices, and they have to protect themselves and PROVE every bit of data is independent and PAID FOR..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Mar 2018 @ 1:46pm

    Automation is good

    Aw, they're just trying to save Internet companies the cost of hiring thousands and thousands of people to do something that has such great possibilities when automated (and so fast), and no extra people needed. They know it can happen, 'cause they believe the nerds have nerded hard enough. They just know it.

    And btw, it has absolutely nothing to do with those extra anonymous campaign contributions.

    Have a nice day!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 20 Mar 2018 @ 2:22pm

    I'm sorry but copyright is completely fucking broken.

    To put the rights of few above the rights of many is folly. Literally few. Literally folly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 4:54pm

      Re: So you're okay, "Rapnel", if majority vote away your rights?

      > To put the rights of few above the rights of many is folly. Literally few. Literally folly.

      Clearly you have not thought that through to might have adverse consequences for you as a minority of one, and appear to be unable to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Rapnel (profile), 20 Mar 2018 @ 7:51pm

        Re: Re: So you're okay, "Rapnel", if majority vote away your rights?

        Close but not quite. I refer, of course, to the unnatural perversion of what is and what is not a right to copy. You seem to resemble exactly what you defend, a perversion. A perversion magnified well beyond reasonable bounds and scope. You defy the reasonable space that would maintain a proper fitment and acceptance into, of and for the humanity that surrounds and nurtures. You represent and defend something that is well passed indefensible. And, further, you represent a direct and hostile intrusion into much more than your precious moral right to prevent. You represent the hostile greed of majority power by proxy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 4:34pm

    Are they infringing upon copyright each time they resubmit this thing?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 4:51pm

    Just like print media. Why should "teh internets" be different?

    YOU must make a positive factual case for the rampant "freedom" to use other people's content / work, not just float out equivocal adjectives and shriek, "Innovation!" -- I'll need actual examples, and they can't be near identical clones that change a few text strings, all trying to gain money easily. That's not innovation, it's same old focus on money...

    Somehow print media handled this problem. That of course was before Ivy League McEducated Kleptomaniacs had websites on which to daily claim that using content that others make is legal, let alone moral.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 5:00pm

      Re: Just like print media. Why should "teh internets" be different?

      Masnick is sure getting lame. And with good cause: just EVERY notion he's ever trotted out about "free" content keeps getting declared illegal in every venue, and more restrictions piled on too. He's gotta be having a crisis of confidence in his notions, unless he's truly a maniac! But who else would keep pushing theft of intellectual property for 20 years now, with negative results...

      ---
      Webster Tarpley told this joke:

      How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

      None! When the one they were given in grad school burns out, they're in the dark!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 5:30pm

        Re: Re: Just like print media. Why should "teh internets" be different?

        I always endlessly reply to myself to make sure everyone knows how normal I am.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 6:25pm

        How many out of the blues does it take to make one common law?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 6:31pm

        Re: Re:

        If you tards knew how to actually enforce copyright without using children and grandparents as your meal ticket maybe you wouldn't get this much backlash.

        How's that John Steele defense fund coming along, blue boy?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Lurk-a-lot (profile), 21 Mar 2018 @ 2:09am

        Re: Re: Just like print media. Why should "teh internets" be different?

        > Webster Tarpley told this joke:
        >
        > How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?
        Not yours, but fair use. With an automated copyright filter you would have been filtered.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2018 @ 5:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And a no-contest system like what Richard Bennett wants in a SOPA revival, would see blue's non-existent fair use earn him the loss of his Internet privileges.

          Copyright-types never did have the ability to think ahead.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2018 @ 7:09am

      Re: Just like print media. Why should "teh internets" be different?

      To: Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 4:51pm

      What the actual Hell? Honestly, I thought you were Mr. Big Content yanking our chains again but no, you're really that thick.

      YOU must make a positive factual case for the rampant "freedom" to use other people's content / work, not just float out equivocal adjectives and shriek, "Innovation!" -- I'll need actual examples, and they can't be near identical clones that change a few text strings, all trying to gain money easily. That's not innovation, it's same old focus on money...

      Fair use. You're welcome.

      Somehow print media handled this problem.

      Fair use. If they can't comment on stuff they can't do their jobs. Think about it (for once!): if they had to bow to copyright every time they'd have to blur or pixellate the backgrounds of every film or photo they ever took or get permission to take photos or film in which shop fronts and artworks appear. They'd have to get a licence to quote from newspapers, documents, etc. because copyright is automatic from the momement the work is fixed in tangible form.

      That of course was before Ivy League McEducated Kleptomaniacs had websites on which to daily claim that using content that others make is legal, let alone moral.

      I note you're not demanding licence fees from Mike for your post. He's using your content, Blue. Using content that others make is both legal and moral at all times, even without a licence, where fair use applies. Of course, posting here implies that you've given Mike permission to use your pearls of wisdom...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2018 @ 10:14am

      Re: Just like print media. Why should "teh internets" be different?

      Somehow print media handled this problem.

      Has it? If I grab someone else's writing and send it as a letter to the editor, would they be liable for printing it? Are they expected to scan everything just in case?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2018 @ 5:13am

    Copyright nazis, basically.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DNY (profile), 21 Mar 2018 @ 7:59am

    feature or bug?

    Are you sure that suppression of free speech is something the EU doesn't want? I suspect that's a feature, rather than a bug, from the point of view of the European Commission.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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