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.

Filed Under: article 11, article 15, copyright, eu copyright directive, germany, linking, memes, neighboring rights, press snippets


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 3:39am

    And I thought TP was Finnish, has he emigrated and gained power in Germany.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 3:42am

      Re:

      The problem is that there's not much copyright enforcement won't do to have its cock sucked, or to suck someone else's.

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

      • icon
        tp (profile), 23 Jan 2020 @ 4:07pm

        Re: Re:

        Why are you complaining? The previous version of the laws did not allow any except to be used. Now if they actually allow 128x128 image + title, it's clearly going to the copyright minimisation direction.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 4:57pm

          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.

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

          • icon
            tp (profile), 23 Jan 2020 @ 6:57pm

            Re: Re: Re: 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?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 9:53pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

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

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

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 4:23am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 1:33am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

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

              No, he's claiming that the extra restrictions that you ignored him mentioning would be a bad thing.

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

              • icon
                tp (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 3:04am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 3:23am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

                  • icon
                    tp (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 5:52am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

                    • icon
                      bhull242 (profile), 26 Jan 2020 @ 5:37pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 4:22am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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?

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

              • icon
                tp (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 6:22am

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

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

                They're just misunderstanding what copyright and the law says about urinating. Their analogue about ones own home being the target area is completely misplaced.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2020 @ 8:02am

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

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

                  So now you're saying that copyright laws literally dictate where and how someone can urinate? My how your logic wanders.

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

                • icon
                  bhull242 (profile), 26 Jan 2020 @ 5:37pm

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

                  Last I checked, most people create memes in their own home.

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

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 4 Feb 2020 @ 8:12am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 26 Jan 2020 @ 5:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Being somewhat more moderate than the most extremist position is still an extremist position. A 128x128 image + title isn’t much of an exception at all, even if it is slightly better than having absolutely no exception at all.

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Jan 2020 @ 4:54am

    And here we have another example of copyright maximalism, where “fair use” is only for the wealthy.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 5:08am

      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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 5:27am

      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

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Jan 2020 @ 5:38am

        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]

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 9:17am

          Re:

          Excellent and appropriate use of that meme.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 23 Jan 2020 @ 10:27am

          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!

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 4:26am

            Re: 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.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 23 Jan 2020 @ 7:06am

        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.

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

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 26 Jan 2020 @ 5:40pm

          Re: Re: Train wreck ahead

          It’s also worth noting that not every news publisher feels that way. Some do see the links with short extracts as free advertising. They just don’t have the same power over politicians (at least in Europe).

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 9:35am

        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).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 5:55am

    Germany clearly wants someone to create exactly one 128x128 (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 128x128 by 3s gif, or similar). That one image, and one 3s clip will be the only legal reference to ... [country.gif].

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2020 @ 8:01am

      Re:

      Germany clearly wants someone to create exactly one 128x128 image to represent Germany in all cases.

      Oooohh! Can it be a poop emoji? Even better, we can just auto-replace any media file upload from a German IP with it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 6:15am

    Oh, this will certainly solve their problem.

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

  • identicon
    David, 23 Jan 2020 @ 6:18am

    Much too large

    I mean, a 1x1 image can already be trademarked if its color is magenta.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 6:37am

    They could have set the resolution for images at 1024x768,
    no one wants to look at 128x128 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 .

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

  • icon
    Nathan F (profile), 23 Jan 2020 @ 6:49am

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 7:29am

      Re:

      What's that, nathan?

      I can't hear you over the sound of copyright maximalists singing "Money" (and handing over cash to Pink Floyd for the privilege of singing in public).

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

      • icon
        sumgai (profile), 23 Jan 2020 @ 11:06am

        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

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

  • identicon
    Wyatt Derp, 23 Jan 2020 @ 9:16am

    But does it have round corners?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2020 @ 10:03am

    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!!

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Jan 2020 @ 10:30am

    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?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2020 @ 5:47am

      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."

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


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