back to article Euro privacy watchdog raises eyebrows at mulled EU copyright law

Europe's top data expert has given a tentative green light to a proposed European copyright law – but warned that it needs to be very carefully written if it's not to distort markets or interfere with fundamental rights. European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Giovanni Buttarelli was asked to contribute his thoughts about …

  1. John G Imrie
    Big Brother

    Coppyright Law aka protect Mickey Mouse Law

    I would be happier if major copyright holders stopped lobbying for further extensions.

    Copyright was originally designed to allow the author a period of time to reap the rewards of their endeavours, not to fund a multimillion / billion(?) £ corporations.

    BB Icon because someone will be watching you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The biggest corporation of all is actually...

      Maybe you should read the site more closely?

      The fact that the music industry gets more revenue from vinyl than from billions of YouTube streams tells you something is very wrong. Google is exploiting a loophole to reduce the rates its pays - and the smallest suffer the most. But don't let facts spoil your day. Keep fapping away about how evil it is to pay people fairly.

      1. Oddbin

        Re: The biggest corporation of all is actually...

        Pretty sure most of the people involved would already have been paid in the process. These aren't little two-people-in-a-shed companies.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: The biggest corporation of all is actually...

          "These aren't little two-people-in-a-shed companies "

          Actually, most are. You need to visit more record labels. Many would be glad to have an actual shed.

          It was small independent labels who got a worse deal than big labels, because when you have dominant market power you can screw the little guy harder:

          And if you are a dominant player dealing with a DIY artist, who is her own label and publisher, you can completely grind them into the ground:

          So that was the background which persuaded the European Commission that there was an unfair playing field. Apple and Spotify supported the change - they don't enjoy the UGC loophole. Google has the filters but uses them as a competitive weapon.

          Disclaimer: tweaking Article 13 would not be *my* preferred option when one dominant player is exploiting a unique advantage in one sector. That seems a classic case for a surgical strike using competition law. Google is abusing its monopoly position in video distribution. Nice, clean and simple. But objecting to the law because (the activist slogan this week) it helps entrench Google, or (the usual Chicken Little response from slacktivists) the sky might fall, doesn't help level the playing field.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The biggest corporation of all is actually...

            >Actually, most are. You need to visit more record labels. Many would be glad to have an actual shed.

            Sorry Andrew but you need to look at who controls the market and size of back catalogue.

            Total recorded Music worldwide is controlled by 3 record cartels labels having over a 70% market share of all recorded music.



            Take off your rose tinted glasses and see the ugliness in all it's glory, it's full of used car and double glazing salesman.

      2. eldakka

        Re: The biggest corporation of all is actually...

        Maybe you should read the site more closely?

        No @AC, I think you need to read the site (and it's source material) more closely and apply some critical thinking and analysis to some of their articles.

        The fact that the music industry gets more revenue from vinyl than from billions of YouTube streams tells you something is very wrong. Google is exploiting a loophole to reduce the rates its pays - and the smallest suffer the most. But don't let facts spoil your day. Keep fapping away about how evil it is to pay people fairly.

        From the article you cite:

        Although YouTube is the world's de facto music jukebox, the music sector gets less money from Google's 25 billion YouTube streams than it does from the puny annual sales of vinyl (4.1 million units, according to the record labels' association, the BPI). According to industry-funded body UK Music, YouTube brings in about 50p per user per year.

        50p per user per year? Across 100's of millions of users? That's not bad for what is effectively zero costs, it's all pretty much pure profit.

        Vinyl has material costs, manufacturing costs, distribution costs, stocking costs. Since the vinyl industry is so small compared to 30 years ago, manufacturing costs of vinyl are relatively high. Vinyl is a premium channel, high costs, high margin, low volume. It's not particularly surprising that a premium line has higher revenue, or otherwise why would they still invest in such a low-volume channel?

        I've just gone to one of the source article for the cited article, and it says (emphasis mine):

        Audio streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music pay around £4.3bn or £15 per user annually for the music they use – significantly more than the £650m or 50p per user returned annually to the industry by firms like YouTube.

        So, £650m is more than they make on 4.1 million record sales? For total record revenue to be £650m on 4.1 million units means an average selling price of £158. But then, how much of that £158 is profit? That is revenue, and the Youtube £650m would be nearly all profit.

        Also, it is completely misleading to compare vinyl sales to just Youtube income, it is cherry-picking. Vinyl is a stream of revenue, Youtube is a single company out of the 'streaming' stream of revenue. It'd be like pulling out a single retailer who sells vinyl and using just their figures.

        To be intellectually honest, the entire streaming market should be being used when comparing it to the entire vinyl market. And to do this at the very least you'd have to throw in the stated Spotify, Apple and Youtube revenue, which is £4.95billion pounds.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Coppyright Law aka protect Mickey Mouse Law

      Copyright was actually (in the 18th century) originally intended to prevent flawed copies of works spoiling the reputation of the originator. The composer Handel was one the early promoters of the principle, due to publishers making faulty copies of his music scores for sale with his name on them but without his approval.

      Thus the "copy right" was (on similar lines to GDPR in respect of personal data processing) intended to give the author control over the copying of his or her work, not to prevent copying. Indeed, that period in music, one of the most fertile and imaginative for hundreds of years, was grounded in composers using other composers' ideas and even borrowing passages from their works. What they weren't allowed to do was copy each others' scores verbatim in entirety without permission, and particularly to ascribe such copies to the original author.

      Money reared its ugly head later when it became possible to make a profit by restricting access to works in the name of 'copyright'. The freedoms to extend and assign copyright clinched the position that led to where we are now - thousands of good artistic works locked up in vaults in perpetuity because their copyright has run out, so there's no money to be extracted for their release, and (as many excellent rock bands found out) mandatory assignation of their copyright to producers who subsequently make all the money out of it.

      Over the last few decades the entire regime of intellectual property protection, which evolved rationally as a progressive scale between short term strong protection (e.g. patents) at one end and long term light protection (e.g. copyright) at the other, has been perverted by greedy magnates into an arbitrary jumble of increasingly strong protection of increasing duration with ever greater penalties attached for ever more trivial acts counting as infringement.

      This proposed law would not solve that problem, but promises to give interested and unaccountable third parties the right to exercise a power that should be solely vested in the legislature. Furthermore, just as now our web searches do not return an objective selection of published pages but instead what Google thinks we should want to see, based on what Google thinks we meant by our search terms, if this law were to come to pass, media providers would have the opportunity by virtue of the lack of transparency of their 'automation' to limit our choices in media consumption.

      Were copyright to return to its original principle of being cause for civil, not criminal, action, the problem of 'piracy' could be controlled by any media rights owner determined enough to monitor usage and take action, but criminalising an act and then appointing non-judicial interested parties to police it is tantamount to legalising vigilantism, and more importantly, is unlikely to work as anticipated without significant adverse side effects.

  2. Nick Kew

    Broadly his response is that Article 13 doesn't break anything, but that it has the potential to cause a lot of harm if applied badly or worded poorly.

    Seems reasonable. And certainly an approach Sir Humphrey would be happy with.

    Isn't there an additional problem with an EU directive, in that national governments might twist implementation of it to their own Agendas? In the case of UK governments, that could be anything from US or other lobbyists to deliberate sabotage in the interests of discrediting the EU directive.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Yes, there should really be a caveat on this opinion:

      When interested parties are directly involved in the drafting of a law, the probability of its being both worded poorly and applied badly rapidly approaches 1. Therefore, the actual law, if any, must be drawn up by people who have no contact whatsoever with any of the companies concerned. That way, there is at least a fighting chance that it won't be deliberately sabotaged.

  3. tiggity Silver badge


    Automated takedown of lots of England football clips due to chants of "3 lions on my shirt", "footballs coming home" brass musicians playing "Great Escape" theme etc

    As automated software spots content belonging to copyrighted "music" works and pulls down the videos.

    Automated takedowns will get things wrong, because context matters

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Automated takedowns will get things wrong, because context matters"

      Yeah, context matter - you can avoid to publish your local exhibition so the context stays very local and not attempting a wordwide audience, maybe in the hope to monetize it, and anyway allowing Google & C. to monetize it.

      The problem is exactly how large the "context" is today through "platforms" like YouTube. You may think you're just publishing for a few friends, but that's not what's really happening - it will get indexed and maybe advertised in many other contexts.

      Those are issues which didn't exist before this kind of huge sharing containers accessible by everyone.

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Exactly was classifies as a small business to be except from having to implement automatic filtering?

    If a company of say 5 people develop an app or website that makes 10's millions every year from user uploaded content are they exempt?

    Is it determined on your businesses profit, number of employees, number of users of your service, or a combination of all of these?

    They media companies complain that they only make 50p per Youtube user, but with the amount of users of Youtube it is still a big chunk of cash that they wouldn't be getting if Youtube decide that they will remove copyrighted content rather than letting the media companies monetise it.

    If this law were to guarantee that artists would receive at least 50% of the revenue generated from views I would support it but even with streaming from Apple and Spotify how much does the artist actually receive compared to what the record company takes?

  5. eldakka

    do not aim to mandate general surveillance

    "The provisions contained in this proposal… do not aim to mandate general surveillance of activities on the internet," he notes,...

    OK, where general surveillance means monitoring everyone all the time, I agree.

    However, it does mandate widespread surveillance.

    To pro-actively scan uploads for copyrighted material requires opening the data, reading the data, analysing the data, and then making a decision on whether or not to block it. That is, by definition, surveiling those particular uploads.

    Sure, not every site on the Internet has to implement this surveillance, just the large sites do, which accounts for significant amounts of user activity on the Internet.

  6. CarlWoods

    Maybe many have paid, but I still hope that at least some benefit will be.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like