It Took Four Months And Thousands Of Dollars To Overturn One Manifestly Stupid Upload Block: Imagine How Bad It Will Soon Be With EU Copyright Directive's Blanket Use Of Filters

from the this-is-gonna-be-bad dept

The upload filters required by the EU's Copyright Directive are not yet in operation -- even though France seems keen to bring them in as soon as possible. So we have been spared for the moment the inevitable harm to freedom of speech and loss of online users' rights that this ill-conceived and dishonest legislation will cause. But a minor case in the Czech Republic provides a foretaste of what is to come. It concerns the Czech file-sharing and hosting site Ulož.to. TorrentFreak has the details:

Late last year, the Municipal Court in Prague ruled that Ulož must filter and block files that reference the word "Šarlatán" ('Charlatan') which is also the name of a Czech movie.

Blocking files that merely reference a particular word is a ridiculously crude approach: all kinds of material will be caught and blocked. Fortunately, the stupidity of this move, requested by the movie distributor Cinemart, was understood by the High Court in Prague when Ulož appealed against the order. However, it took four months to overturn the preliminary filtering order, during which time Ulož was obliged to comply with the lower court's instructions. Not unreasonably, it is now seeking compensation for the unnecessary work this entailed, as well for its legal costs:

Ulož is seeking 585,000 Czech Koruna (~$27,320) to compensate for the filtering and monitoring costs, and another 200,000 (~$9,340) to cover the legal costs and fees.

In itself, it's hardly a ground-breaking result. But even for this minor case, it required considerable amounts of time and money before a manifestly unjust ruling was thrown out. Imagine how things will be once the EU's new upload filters start to operate. They will give rise to many cases -- hundreds? thousands? more? -- where material is wrongly blocked, but where sites are unwilling to allow it to be posted on appeal. Most members of the public will give up at this point, deterred by the prospects of unknown costs for what are likely to be far more complex legal questions than the simple one considered in Prague. All-in-all, the isolated case of Ulož does not bode well for what will soon be the painful everyday reality of copyright across the whole of the EU.

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Filed Under: article 17, censorship, copyright, eu, eu copyright directive, prague, upload filters


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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 8:20am

    How is that different from current practice where I get $48 for 8 years of work?

    Under your copyright scheme, you wouldn’t even be able to offer Meshpage as a tool for doing anything, since — by the standards you believe should be set for programmers and copyright infringement prevention — your program wouldn’t even be able to do anything. And that’s if the programs you used to make your program would even let you make your program, since they would also exist under your copyright scheme.


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