Politicians Start To Push For Autonomous Vehicle Data To Be Protected By Copyright Or Database Rights

from the battle-for-the-internet-of-things dept

Autonomous vehicles are much in the news these days, and seem poised to enter the mainstream soon. One of their key aspects is that they are digital systems -- essentially, computers with wheels. As such they gather and generate huge amounts of data as they move around and interact with their surroundings. This kind of data is increasingly valuable, so an important question poses itself: what should happen to all that information from autonomous vehicles?

The issue came up recently in a meeting of the European Parliament's legal affairs committee, which was drawing up a document to summarize its views on autonomous driving in the EU (pdf). It's an area now being explored by the EU with a view to bringing in relevant regulations where they are needed. Topics under consideration include civil liability, data protection, and who gets access to the data produced by autonomous vehicles. On that topic, the Swedish Greens MEP Max Andersson suggested the following amendment (pdf) to the committee's proposed text:

Notes that data generated during autonomous transport are automatically generated and are by nature not creative, thus making copyright protection or the right on databases inapplicable.

Pretty inoffensive stuff, you might think. But not for the center-right EPP politicians present. They demanded a vote on Andersson's amendment, and then proceeded to block its inclusion in the committee's final report.

This is a classic example of the copyright ratchet in action: copyright only ever gets longer, stronger and broader. Here a signal is being sent that copyright or a database right should be extended to apply not just to works created by people, but also to the data streams generated by autonomous vehicles. Given their political leanings, it is highly unlikely that the EPP politicians believe that data belongs to the owner of the vehicle. They presumably think that the manufacturer retains rights to it, even after the vehicle has left the factory and been sold.

That's bad enough, but there's a bigger threat here. Autonomous vehicles are just part of a much larger wave of connected digital devices that generate huge quantities of data, what is generally called the Internet of Things. The next major front in the copyright wars -- the next upward move of the copyright ratchet -- will be over what happens to all that data, and who, if anyone, owns it.

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Filed Under: autonomous vehicles, copyright, database right, eu, eu parliament, iot, juri


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 15 Oct 2018 @ 1:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    OK, I think I see the disconnect here. You're talking about what happened physically to cause the crash. I'm talking about what happened to cause the software to misbehave in a way that allowed the crash to happen - which can be caused by things that occurred long before the visible symptoms became apparent.

    Getting data from immediately before the crash might be useful to determine that X was what happened, but it's useless in determining WHY X happened, if the reason is that a faulty sensor or specific unusual set of inputs triggered a memory leak that meant that the software responded much more slowly than normal to a certain warning trigger. You often need access to longer log records to make a valid examination of some issues. Note, I'm not talking months or years here, I'm only pointing out that a few moments may not be enough to fix what actually caused the crash before the next one is triggered by the same bug.

    "Do you really want claims that a robbery or assault to become an excuse for the police to get infomation on who was near a political activists house on a given afternoon or evening"

    No, but the problem there is the system that allows them to go on fishing expeditions, not the fact that this data means there might be more fish to catch.

    "That car data will not only show how you traveled, by how long your vehicle was parked in a given area."

    So, the same as your mobile phone's data shows right now? Yes, you can turn it off, but most people don't.

    "Which is worse for society, a few unsolved accidents, or a total surveillance state?"

    If you believe that false dichotomy, you may wish to read up on the actual situation.

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