back to article Internet luminaries urge EU to kill off automated copyright filter proposal

A large group of Internet pioneers have sent an open letter to the European Union urging it to scrap a proposal to introduce automated upload filters, arguing that it could damage the internet as we know it. The European Parliament's Legal Affairs (Juri) Committee will vote on the proposal contained in Article 13 of the …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    One solution to the problem of automated take-down requests for non-existent URLs would be to charge the IP lawyers a handling fee, say $10, per erroneous request. Even a lawyer would baulk at having to pay a million handling fees per day. We might actually see a few IP lawyers being bankrupted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Another solution...

      Is to realise information is free when it gets out sadly.

      But to instead of sending fines and punishing people who have information, to help educate them and promote paying content creators and being reasonable human beings.

      1. Grikath

        Re: Another solution...

        Is to simply shoot the IP lawyers.

        1. ratfox

          Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2

          "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2

            They should have killed the mouse years ago then we wouldn't have such stupid long copyright times to worry about.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2

            But the IP lawyers will be placed at the head of the queue.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another solution...

        The lawyer gets paid to send the take down request so it is only fair that the host should get paid as well.

        I personally would go further and limit the number of take down requests via restricting IP holders to a single legal agent and also charging tenfold (with an option for site owner to sue in case of malice) if they order a take down of something that is not in breach.

        As things stand it is all too one sided

  2. Mark 85

    and being reasonable human beings.

    Normally yes, but lawyers and corporates usually aren't "reasonable" where profits are concerned, thus the loud screams from Google, FB, etc. There is a problem for copyright holders who don't have deep pockets and can afford a copyright lawyer. The abuse by the corporations and copyright lawyers can only make it harder for the little guy to get compensation.

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      There is a problem for copyright holders who don't have deep pockets

      The biggest problem for small copyright owners is not piracy, it is visibility. The big companies can pay for massive advertising campaigns. The small guys rely on visibility on web sites. It doesn't help them that a higher proportion of their users may be forced to pay, if no one even knows their stuff exists!

      That visibility will go away almost completely when all sites except Google and Facebook stop allowing users to upload content and messages due to the imposition of unreasonable liabilities and high cost barriers to entry.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eventually the internet will become shopping, bureaucratic forms, news, fake news and personal content to help with the shopping ads, oh and government monitoring, mustn't forget that one.

    No one would have believed, in the early years of the 21st century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless world of the corporations. No one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinised as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of intelligence in the government. And yet, across the gulf of the internet, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded it with envious eyes, and slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us…

    1. Paul Herber Silver badge

      TWotW - 120 years old.

      And Woking hasn't improved in all that time.

    2. Kane

      "No one would have believed, in the early years of the 21st century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless world of the corporations. No one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinised as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of intelligence in the government. And yet, across the gulf of the internet, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded it with envious eyes, and slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us…"





  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was the freetards who broke it for everyone.

    It is one thing hosting abandonware, rips of old records which never made it to CD, things which are no longer available for no good reason. It is entirely another posting this week's blockbuster and refusing to pay for anything which can be taken for free, legitimised by virtue of some invented ideology.

    Did they really think it was a victimless crime; that those losing money they expected to get would just take it lying down?

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      It was the freetards who broke it for everyone.

      I don't agree with that at all.

      I blame the copyright owners cartel who have extended the length of their ownership again and again until it has no real end point.

      Why, for instance, is Robert Johnson's music still under copyright? He died in 1937 and no-one who had anything to do with his recordings is even alive any more.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Arguably it's the abuse of copyright material by freetards that has led to the extension of copyright terms.

        Another way of solving this is to really pass the liability buck on to the site users who put this stuff up in the first place. This is the cure situation, really, except that it doesn't work at present because no one has a clue who a YouTube (for example) user really is. All YouTube has is a dodgy email address.

        So if YouTube were forced to know the legal identity of a user before they were allowed to sign up, the blame for copyright breaches could be passed on efficiently. That would soon cure the problem we have today.

        Identity could be established by charging for the services, say 5 bucks. And it could then be ad free.

        It would also placate the concerns of law enforcement agencies over illegal content like paedophilia, terrorist related materials etc. Post junk like that, police are going to be knocking on the door pretty quickly.

        The big Internet companies have got fat on the back of a socially damaging business model. About time there was some restitution.

        1. Charles 9

          Until the miscreants start taking to stealing accounts and posting their dodgy stuff using those. That way, the plods start knocking on innocent doors while they get away scot-free, probably further protected by hostile sovereignty.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Until the miscreants start taking to stealing accounts and posting their dodgy stuff using those."

            This happens a lot already. most of the really illegal content is hosted on hacked servers so the first port of call for the plods is the address of the admin for the server involved.

      2. David Nash Silver badge

        I think you'll find it's more complicated than that

        It's not black and white. It's partly been broken by the freetards who want the latest movies for nothing etc, but also completely abused by extended copyright periods, such as the aforementioned Robert Johnson's music.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I had an erroneous takedown of youtube stuff.

        Not Robert Johnson music (though another great blues man - John Lee Hooker)

        Vid was me playing a few bars that a mate had recorded- and I'm no great delta blues man - I'm bog standard at best - just that the clip was lacking my usual level of errors, but even an almost deaf person could tell it was a "nobody" playing, and not a guitar master.

        I'm assuming that was some automated detection (or just saw mention of artist & piece I was (badly) attempting in clip description and worked on that basis)

        The current zero cost for getting a takedown wrong is awful (as others have said it needs a fine system, so erroneous takedowns cost the accusers money)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Yeah there's lots of automated detection on YouTube. I have an ancient gaming video that I was listening to music while playing. It managed to pick the right track over the engine noise from the game and resulted in the clip being muted, all completely automated.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the comments so far, the villains are corporations, corporations, lawyers, corporations, and freetards.

    Does nobody think that perhaps the EU likes the idea of Internet censorship and has plans far beyond these paltry measures to utterly control what its citizens see and say?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nah, they need all member states to agree before they can do that.

    2. Martin Gregorie

      I'll probably get downvoted for this, but...

      I think an automated solution, based at least partly on the methods behind security systems might work like this:

      • Require all copyright assertions to be registered in a distributed register. If a work isn't registered it isn't protected. Have the register maintained by one of the international copyright institutions, e.g. WIPO
      • Let anybody who publishes copyrightable material for public access have either free or low cost access to the register and connect it up to their upload process so that attempts to upload copyrighted material will be rejected unless the uploader is registered as the copyright owner and indicates he's waiving copyright on that platform. This prevents the freetards from ripping off copyright owners while providing immunity to the publisher.
      • If the publisher doesn't want to sign up, that's fine, but he will be liable for copyright infringement if he doesn't.
      • In return, copyright owners will agree to copyright expiring no more than ten years after the author's death.
      • Those selling copyrighted material can continue as normal provide they pay royalties - this could be an automated process via the online register.

      Of course, the upload blocker needs to be smart enough to see through attempts to disguise copyrighted material, but isn't that what all these wonderful AI systems (cough! pattern matchers, cough!) are supposed to do infallibly and reliably?

      I think something like this is fair to everybody. Authors get recompensed for their work. Co-operating publishers get immunity from copyright hassles. Ordinary punters can still get access to (paid-for) copyrighted material and to material that's now out of copyright. Freetards get their well-deserved black eye.

      1. JBowler

        You just need a fingerprint algorithm

        Upvoted: producers upload signatures of their work, upload-receivers generate a test hash which is matched by a central database against the uploaded signatures. If there is a match there may be a problem. An exact match (the upload-receiver can trivially generate the publisher signature) is an immediate block.

        Fraudulent signature submitters are easily traced (like, obviously, if you submit a signature you need to have contact information to receive any ROYALTIES) and anyone who tries fraud from that angle is very likely to end up in court.

        The guys who rip off other peoples' work might claim to be aggregators. Sorry. Don't like aggregators, sounds like alligators to me. Aggregation is not protected use of copyrighted work.

        Other guys with smaller scroti might claim to be commentators, but, honestly, fair re-use of a copyrighted text, sound or image requires selection of the content and that will certainly defeat any current day fuzzy match algorithm.

        Three Chord Wonders will, of course, continue to hire expensive graduates to claim that their three chords are copyright, but, once again, the fuzzy match algorithms cannot be fooled because if they were every tune would be a copyright violation of every other tune. Those guys can go fight it out in the mud pits they desire.

        John Bowler

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You just need a fingerprint algorithm

          This technique is already used in a couple of ways. The simplest is the Cinavia watermark used to stop camcorder recordings made in cinemas from playing on Blu-ray players. Little processing power needed to detect it.

          Fingerprinting either of the video or the audio is generally effective but isn't perfect and is skewed toward false negatives. There are ways to defeat it in video. Fingerprinting audio can cause false positives if, for example, a song in a sound track uses a recording that was released elsewhere.

          Cinavia is an example of invisible/inaudible watermarking and like the other systems has an astronomical odds against a false positive. Cinavia is either there or it's not, so it would work in this application but other watermarking technologies carry a payload that can be used to trace the point of theft. For them, the watermark detector needs a content provider specific key which is a closely guarded secret so there is perfect valid security reason to not hand them out.

          1. Charles 9

            Re: You just need a fingerprint algorithm

            Cinavia is actually audible (barely). They do this intentionally so it's harder (but still not impossible) to mangle without adversely affecting the actual audio track.

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        @Martin Gregorie

        The Berne Convention grants copyright automatically, and formal registration is prohibited, so the law would have to change.

  6. The Nazz

    Use it or lose it.

    As the SO oft reminds me.

    Release it commercially at reasonable rates or lose it. Not used in 3 years max, lose it.

    Not to mention the term of copyright and no longer releasing creative works into the public domain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's ok.

      I'm just waiting for the Lawyers heads to explode once we get a colony on Alpha Centauri. A 3 light year*/3 years time difference in temporal arrangement will give them no end of proverbial philosophical conundrums on who is "first" to invent something and "when" the copyright fails/expires.

      In fact, if I note my servers to be currently there, can I use that as proof of first to invent? ;)

      *Give or take acceptable error margins

  7. eldakka

    One of the problem with implementing a system as proposed by the EU is how does an automated system make value judgements on the copyrighted material put up such as fair use?

    Will it tear down news video's that contain a snippet of copyrighted content in the report?

    Or videos posted of people going about their daily routines - someone dancing to (copyrighted) music, or filming a live event - say a sporting event - but in the filming capturing audio played over the loudspeakers of a song?

    Or youtube channels that provide commentary on public events or TV shows, movies, that include snippets for commentary?

    The current system is an "allow all unless copyright holder legitimately objects", but this system is a "deny all unless poster can reasonably show legitimate use". Which shifts the burden from the individuals making money from the copyrighted products, to the mostly non-moneymaking posters of the material. Sure, the platforms hosting the material might be making money from that hosting, put the individual who likely made the posting isn't. Therefore greater harm is experienced by the posters - the public - as many of their posts will be blocked and they probably couldn't be bothered to fight putting up their video of the stupid dance they did.

    1. JBowler

      Fair use is easy

      Fair use requires selection, so if I post a video and it contains a sound track part or all of which is copyright any copyright infringement algorithm is checking the VIDEO, not the sound track. The video is copyright too, but by the original producer.

      If the mechanism recognizes the copyright of the *UPLOADER* then the uploader will have a copyright entry and if someone disputes fair use then it is easy to chase that guy down and have a wet T shirt fight in the mud pit most lawyers languish in.

      But the *UPLOADEE* doesn't care, because the video is apparently fair use and, anyway, THIS CAN BE MADE TO WORK, it just requires NON DENIAL by internet luminaries. It is a problem that has a solution and, with that solution, every person who uploads a video or a commentary or who, like me, posts a comment like this, can claim their copyright.

      [Copyright is not a license, it is just the right to grant a license.]

      John Bowler

  8. gormful

    Invest in hard drives

    How the hell can a Web site be expected to recognize and filter ALL copyrighted material unless it has a database of all that material? Does the regulation mandate that EVERY rightsholder supply free copies (or hashes) of EVERY copyrighted work to EVERY Web site?

    1. Kabukiwookie

      Re: Invest in hard drives

      EVERY rightsholder supply free copies (or hashes) of EVERY copyrighted work to EVERY Web site?

      Free copies? No, not free. Anyone who's required to implement these measures can probably buy a solution with a hit ratio of 1%, with a forced subscription model to ensure the signature database is updated at regular intervals.

      1. Lyndon Hills 1

        Re: Invest in hard drives

        Need to check el Reg rules, but I believe this comment is copywright to me. It'll be a bit of a faff for me to now generate a hash of my comment and distribute it all websites.

        --edit now I need to generate another hash and redistribute...

  9. JBowler

    The internet luminaries could simply submit an RFC for a signature/validation protocol

    Or maybe they couldn't, as they are going somewhat moldy.

    A solution needs to allow simple registration of copyright, via posting of the reliable signature of original material (text, sound, image, conforming XML combination of the preceding) to a central database (which may be freely replicated) which is used by upload-receivers to validate content.

    Validation (i.e. the upload-receiver end) is not hard. They already do this is so many ways and it is just AdBlock plus (running on this site as I type, 3 ads on this page blocked so far).

    The issue is correct recognition of copyright data via a signature; that is an INTERNET problem, not a legal one. If we can't do it we deserve to be put out of business, or have our rather generous pension relocated to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the case of the moldy ones. The issue is that the signature is not something like dSIG or message hashs, which only recognize identically the original data, it is a fuzzy match like face or fingerprint recognition. The upload-receiver has to transmit sufficient information (the uploaded data is sufficient but over the top) to the database so that the negatives and positives can be relatively reliable. I trust no moldy old fool will tell me this can't be done; bees can't fly and 5GHz 28+ core processors can't exist, I've heard it all before.

    Now I put pretty much all the stuff I publish in the public domain, so I don't give an airborne enjoyable experience, but if I ever did start publishing anything that I don't currently publish I would be sending signatures to that database immediately.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: The internet luminaries could simply submit an RFC for a signature/validation protocol

      What's to stop a mangler from just altering the content enough to throw off the signature? Steganographic mangling is nothing new. Not even stuff like Cinavia (which encodes in the audible range to avoid being mangled) is immune.

    2. strum

      Re: The internet luminaries could simply submit an RFC for a signature/validation protocol

      >the reliable signature of original material

      How does that cope when the original material is sped up/slowed down and re-saved? Seems to be trivial to defeat.

    3. Aedile

      Re: The internet luminaries could simply submit an RFC for a signature/validation protocol

      How would this system cope with fair use like parody or snippets used for reviews?

  10. Ole Juul

    Where's the line?

    The proposal would see all companies that "store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works" obliged to "prevent the availability… of works… identified by rightholders."

    With the explosion of cheap servers available these days, a lot of people run things that are very similar to what the, so called, large companies are doing. At what point do I, as an individual, come under attack? Words like "large amounts" don't exactly define my limits in any legally useful way. It seems like these legislators are only able to see part of the internet. I don't personally make copyrighted material available other than my own, but a lot of people do.

  11. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Cut back copyright times....

    If the IP lawyers insist on having tight application of copyright legislation, let them have it for the 7 years (extensible to another 7) that was originally proposed when copyright was invented.

    At the moment pretty much ALL information is owned by somebody - you often can't find out who - and using anything historical opens you to legal threat....

  12. onefang

    I see the problem...

    "Just Google alone receives three million takedown requests every day – that's every day. The system is so broken that big corporations are now sending automated requests with millions of links that may or may not exist, just to try to cover the issue."

    So big corporations automatically send millions of potentially bogus links, and Google gets millions of links. And they wonder why it doesn't scale?

  13. Rob Crawford

    The automated systems don't work

    Anybody who follows any number of channels on YouTube will find the following

    Automated DCMA claims for stolen material (which isn't stolen)

    DCMA complaints from falsely claiming ownership of material

    DCMA complaints when "fair use" applies

    False claims of regarding ownership of background music tracks

    The system doesn't work already so why would you introduce a system which is even worse?

    Even if the fingerprinting did work properly, it would still be a minefield and would simply benefit those with the right lawyers.

  14. Giovani Tapini

    Automated systems hmm

    I suspect would prevent any kind of news outlet from working as images would match a copyright version. They would be posted so fast that the system would not keep up.

    Similar images taken from the iPhone next to you would also score a hit as being only marginally different.

    Any kind of meme, fair use, or school project would have content removed.

    About half of books would be taken down as there are always similar sets of words across genre's.

    The lawyers are looking to outsource their own work back to internet businesses that because of a big few assume everyone has masses of untapped resources to do their job.

    I see this as moving copyright firmly into the realm of censorship and will certainly not be good for anyone.

  15. ds6

    Fellas, have I got the plan for you. Know how Google/Alphabet/et al. get away with farming human intelligence to train their massive neural networks and AIs via reCAPTCHA? Just replace cars and storefronts with "Baby" by Justin Bieber and "FORTNITE BATTLE ROYALE 90 PLAYER KILL STREAK (REAL)" by FortniteMaster20. Attach the system to every uploaded file on the Internet (both to stop automated uploads by requiring human intervention and to check the file for compliance) and boom, everyone from your pappy to your dog will be fighting the good fight against copyright infringement!

    And IP lawyers will be out of the job, so that's a plus.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Try watching UGC for a month.

    Entertainment is the only industry where the competition has exactly the same product with zero cost of goods and often gets to market sooner.

    Try this at home: don't watch anything except user generated content for a month.

    And if you think the Hollywood studios earn far too much and are rolling in money, consider this: Google's revenue for the first quarter of 2018 was $31 billion as compared to annual worldwide box office revenue (everything, not just Hollywood movies) for 2017 of $40 billion.

    Which would you rather be without? Google or Hollywood movies?

    Studios get, at most, 50% of the box office in the US and 20% in China. Since most movies worldwide aren't Hollywood movies, it's likely that not much more than $20 billion is for Hollywood movies which would mean the box office revenue for all 5 Hollywood studios is probably at most $20 billion.

    1. Rob Crawford

      Re: Try watching UGC for a month.

      To be honest I would rather lose Holywood and the endless inane crap that gets made these days (and that's ignoring the sequel to the sequel to the sequel of a poor remake) seems that any decent film that is made is in spite of the entertainment industry rather than because of it

      I have seen two recent films in the last two years solely because I was entombed on a Dublin to San Francisco flight and I am still unsure as to whether the films or the flight were the more mind numbing aspect of those 11 hours (I worked through their audio selection on the return flight and even then everything was 30+ years old) the rest of my film watching has consisted of about 5 pre 1970s 'classsics.'

      About twice a month I will get around to watching a documentary and that's it, to be honest I would ditch TV altogether if it wasn't for the rest of the family, my news comes from the radio which doesn't suffer so much from the endless churn of 24 hour news stations.

      The rest of the time I either do something or work through tutorials on YouTube (and similar) and some live streams, Iv'e even been known to play the odd video game one in a while.

      So before dissing the good quality UGC that is out there, have a think about the pap that the entertainment industry tells you that you need to watch

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems to only punish the ones not likely to abuse the system. How would a proposed filter work, if the miscreants just sit behind a vpn whilst they upload encrypted content?

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