Tomorrow the EU Votes on the Future of the Internet

Tomorrow the EU will vote on the future of the internet. Specifically, a proposal involving copyrighted material that are controversial in how they would work (via EFF).

[How to Use ‘Right to be Forgotten’ as a Censorship Tool]

Current System

The way things stand today, companies that let their users communicate in public (by posting videos, text, images, etc) are required to respond to claims of copyright infringement by removing their users’ posts, unless the user steps up to contest the notice.

That’s how it works right now, and this system of “notice and takedown” is embodied in the¬†Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Copyright holders aren’t happy with this process, because copyrighted content can just be reposted again.

The new system these copyright holders want would be a “notice and staydown.” Rightsholders would send companies behind these sharing platforms a digital copy of their catalog. The company would then have to build a special copyright filter and block uploads that match an item in the catalog.

This is what YouTube’s Content ID system does. It analyzes the audio track of uploaded videos to see if the audio is copyrighted. But it’s not perfect, and sometimes legitimate content can get removed.

Future System

The EU will vote on whether a new Copyright Directive should include Article 13. This is a clause that makes copyright filters like Content ID mandatory for the whole internet. And it won’t just be for audio, but also videos, photos, code, and text.

The EFF’s blog post goes into more detail, and shares three facts on the potential for abuse:

  1. Anyone can add anything to the blacklist of “copyrighted works” that can’t be published by Internet users;
  2. The blacklists have to accept thousands of works at once; and
  3. New entries to the blacklist have to go into effect instantaneously.

But more disturbing is targeted censorship: politicians have long abused takedown to censor embarrassing political revelations or take critics offline, as have violent cops and homophobic trolls…But under Article 13, everyone gets to play wholesale censor, and every¬†service has to obey their demands.

[Censorship Archives – The Mac Observer]

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