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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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 1:09pm

    Why look at all those skull-and-crossbone flags risng...

    Actual copyright infringers meanwhile will continue to be largely unaffected, and in fact will see a huge surge in numbers as people are punished time and time again for trying to go the legal route until they decide that if they're going to be treated as criminals no matter what then why jump through all the hoops?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 9:12pm

      Re: Why look at all those skull-and-crossbone flags risng...

      going to be treated as criminals no matter what

      That's the endgame: Make everyone a criminal / pirate. Then you can justify even more draconian copyright protection measures to politicians.

      "Obviously the massive uptick in piracy means we haven't done enough to combat it. Now we need and must have X to ensure the protection of our IP."

      The IP cartels have played this song and dance routine countless times before and gotten exactly what they wanted. It's profitable for them to do so. Of course they will continue doing it. The only way this stops is for the public to make it unprofitable. Unfortunately, I fear that the only way that will happen is if the public as a whole simply stops buying the crap and makes piracy the default choice.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 12:22am

        Re: Re: Why look at all those skull-and-crossbone flags risng...

        Unfortunately, I fear that the only way that will happen is if the public as a whole simply stops buying the crap and makes piracy the default choice.

        That's still giving them more than they deserve, the way to really stick it to them is to not buy or pirate their stuff, to make it indistinguishable from content that doesn't even exist as far as the public is concerned and instead give attention and money to non-parasitic creators.

        If their sales tank and they can point to a bunch of torrents of their stuff then they get to argue that the hammer just needs to be brought down even harder, but if their sales tank because no-one even cares that they came out with new stuff as all the focus is on better content then that argument becomes much harder to sell, and it becomes all the more obvious that what they're really trying to kill is competition, not copyright infringement.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 2:14am

      Re: Why look at all those skull-and-crossbone flags risng...

      "Actual copyright infringers meanwhile will continue to be largely unaffected..."

      The sheer stupidity of copyright law and copyright enforcement when it comes to the digital environment was pretty much spelled out back in the 80's.
      The original Pirate Party founder, Rick Falkvinge, posted a little essay - "The copyright industry: A century of deceit" - which is still very worth reading today about how technology and the basic refusal of humans in general to accept that ideas can be owned, has always, very consistently, demolished the copyright concept in every arena where the two opposing views came into conflict.

      Humans are literally evolved to learn from others. It's how we work.

      What is really annoying is that every copyright directive ends up the same - an utter waste of taxpayer money and resources - before quietly collapsing, just yet another Red Flag Act quietly abandoned. And as you said, as usual pirates will give no fsck's about the matter because the only inconvenienced parties will be the fully legitimate ones.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        tp (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 2:47am

        Re: Re: Why look at all those skull-and-crossbone flags risng...

        as usual pirates will give no fsck's about the matter because the only inconvenienced parties will be the fully legitimate ones.

        This is the intended effect. It allows government to recognize the pirates from regular people. When legitimate people spend time trying to get the onerous copyright requirements implemented, they will learn practices that are actually useful, i.e. how to handle misuse of the published material. Those pirates who never bothered to consider these issues, will be blinking like a red flag in the government's copyright checking tooling. Then authors are completely different breed, since they need to follow the strictest copyright standards, or else they never get their copyrighted works to the market. This this kind of "pirate - end user - author" kind of levelisation pattern can be used to plan marketing activities for different user groups. Then pirates will just receive different treatment than what luxury they'll give to real authors.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2021 @ 3:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Why look at all those skull-and-crossbone flags risn

          If the copyright regime you dream of came to pass, you would not be able to afford write meshpages.

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            icon
            tp (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 4:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why look at all those skull-and-crossbone flags

            If the copyright regime you dream of came to pass, you would not be able to afford write meshpages.

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

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2021 @ 4:37am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why look at all those skull-and-crossbone fl

              You have been able to make the program without significant expenditure to locate license holders and obtain licenses. If you had to do that you would have to spent a lot money before writing a line of code.

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

            • 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.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 8:16am

          When legitimate people spend time trying to get the onerous copyright requirements implemented, they will learn practices that are actually useful

          …like how to get around DRM that either refuses to work or can no longer “phone home” to the system that “clears” the DRM mechanism.

          Those pirates who never bothered to consider these issues, will be blinking like a red flag in the government's copyright checking tooling.

          And when the number of “pirates” rises above a number that the legal system couldn’t reasonably punish and society couldn’t afford to bankrupt into homelessness and poverty, what then, toilet paper man?

          authors are completely different breed, since they need to follow the strictest copyright standards, or else they never get their copyrighted works to the market

          You really don’t think self-published works are a thing, do you.

          This this kind of "pirate - end user - author" kind of levelisation pattern can be used to plan marketing activities for different user groups.

          Marketing to all three groups is always going to be different regardless of whatever “levelization” means in your fucked-up mind. But pirates will always be both the hardest sell and the easiest, ironically enough. They’re willing to support quality products instead of whatever the media says is The Next Big Thing — so making a good product is the easiest way to make a convert out of a pirate.

          pirates will just receive different treatment than what luxury they'll give to real authors

          …fucking what

          can you post one comment without a sentence so nonsensical that it breaks the average brain when said brain tries to parse it

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 8:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Why look at all those skull-and-crossbone flags risn

          "It allows government to recognize the pirates from regular people."

          If I didn't already know you were just in it for the trolling...but fine; No, the government isn't magically going to recognize pirates because if that was possible then government would have done so quite a few years ago.

          No, tp, as is usually the case this latest idiocy is going to be a burden on the normal consumer many of them won't bear which either means they abstain completely or go pirate.

          "...will be blinking like a red flag in the government's copyright checking tooling."

          That crystal ball which magically tells governments who is naughty and who is nice?

          "Then pirates will just receive different treatment than what luxury they'll give to real authors."

          The "real author" who like you is such a monumental fsckup the only way they have to get a product to market is if government cripples the competition of anyone who actually knows how to do creative work?

          Here's my prediction, tp. Just as with anything which was attempted to stem and hinder radio, the tape cassette, the VCR, the mp3 file format, the DVD, the USB and the PC this ends with copyright losing another round to technology. It's a matter of how long it takes before the politicians in charge quietly start sweeping this directive under the rug.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2021 @ 5:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It allows government to recognize the pirates from regular people

          The government has demonstrated time and time again that they can't. Not through automated code, not through humans. But you knew this, seeing that you keep readily jumping to the defense of Prenda Law and Malibu Media after they got caught suing the wrong people.

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

          • icon
            tp (profile), 10 May 2021 @ 2:50am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The government has demonstrated time and time again that they can't.

            As explained before, government can do whatever the businesses consider significant enough features that they actually implement. This is why summoning of government is available technique when you want society as a whole to help getting your software to the market. If businesses consider copyright checking important enough, of course it is possible to implement it. And once businesses decide to implement the feature, we can say that government implemented it. Business entities are just following instructions they extract from ordinary human's expertise collections. And government can decide what they teach in schools and universities, so it's government's job eventually to provide enough hints for private business entities that they should invest in the copyright checking features. Given that this is required by the law, all the companies should be investing in this.

            If this doesn't happen in your area, you need to contact your elected government representatives, and ask them why this feature is not getting the attention that it requires.

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

  • icon
    GHB (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 2:35pm

    It's the DMV version of copyright filters

    You'd know that you cannot have prohibited words on your license plate based on the state you are in. And even with that policy, people are using creative methods to avoid it, such as spelling variations, just spelling the syllable of such words, using alternative character that resembles another, etc.

    With text in general, there is even more freedom than being restricted to just A-Z and 0-9.

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

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 29 Apr 2021 @ 2:37pm

    Pronunciation guide

    For those wondering how to pronounce Ulož, it's You Lose.

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

  • icon
    solongsowrong (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 2:39pm

    Upload filters are designed to keep the monopoly of contents

    Imagine you are an independent writer, music composer, painter, and so on... You don't want to affilate to any cartel like MPA or RIAA, producing and selling on internet your own works. These kind of societies who suck money from affiliates pockets, will be notbso happy you successfully bypassed their monopoly of content distribution.

    So, they asked to layers and tech experts, who know very good the internet, how to stop competion (LEGITIMATE COMPETITION) by the part of independent creators. They went out with upload filters whose final goal is turn internet from opened to everyone contribute, into a network where only few entities can upload andbmake money and, if you too want make money from your OWN work, you need to go trough these societies that cost you money.

    You can be blocked from upload your OWN music, your OWN drawings, your OWN books, softwares and many others. For people like me, that is an independent creator, this would be the ruin, the bankrupt! Exactly what they want with upload filters

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 2:20am

      Re: Upload filters are designed to keep the monopoly of contents

      "These kind of societies who suck money from affiliates pockets, will be notbso happy you successfully bypassed their monopoly of content distribution."

      Throughout human history every industry has suffered the influx of the middleman who at some point had a market reason to exist which vanished as technology progressed. Usually the middleman industry does not react well and asks for protective legislation to preserve their niche.

      Copyright law was written, from start to finish, exclusively to cater to that middleman industry. And the threat to that model has always been new technology allowing individuals to copy and store songs and movies.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 3:50pm

    It's not just about piracy , it's likely that legal content eg reviews , parodys , memes etc will be blocked as the filters will be looking for words , audio and video that might be infringing , automatic filters cannot tell fair use from infringing
    Content
    One example tumblr has lots of blogs devoted to marvel comics and movies with images from comics and movies
    Will most of tumble simply be blocked by filters
    Piracy will continue its simply the smaller websites that host user content and images that will be forced to filter content
    that will be effected most
    Small websites can't afford to employ moderators to check every image or video clip

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 3:58pm

      Re:

      That if the filters will get up and running and its now looking like they wont.

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

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 2:23am

        Re: Re:

        "That if the filters will get up and running and its now looking like they wont."

        Oh, there's too much lobbying money invested in this. At least some countries will run those filters. With predictable abysmal failure as a result.

        One can only hope the copyright directive, this latest limp hurrah by the copyright cult ends up costing the industry a lot of money in damages before it collapses.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2021 @ 3:56pm

    Its looking like the upload filters start will not be able to start to operate before being taken down in court, there already talk about them being delayed.

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 29 Apr 2021 @ 5:42pm

    I'm too lazy to go check, but am I remembering correctly that this was passed by renaming it at the last minute so that politicians were tricked into voting for it?

    If so, why has nobody brought a case before the European Court of Justice to have it thrown out based on the fact that they pulled a bait-and-switch?

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

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 29 Apr 2021 @ 8:41pm

    even though France seems keen to bring them in as soon as possible.

    I stand corrected...apparently in French, "Hadopi" translates as "we don't understand technology but believe we should control all of it."

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

  • icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 12:38am

    Whether to laugh or cry...

    "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."

    Oh you sweet, naíve summer child...

    We know how this scales and the closest analogy on offer here would be the automated DMCA takedown trolling and mass-mailed "speculative invoicing" practiced by US copyright trolls.

    This being copyright there's even odds it'll also involve something rarely seen in europe - litigatory profit motive.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2021 @ 3:52am

    There will be a no of test cases where legal material is blocked
    ie reviews parodys satire public domain videos etc
    One problem is creators give up making certain types of material that's legal because iit will likely be blocked eg
    Videos with classical music that's in the public domain
    as we have seen on YouTube it happens every day
    Some news show uses a public domain video clip and dmcas
    Anyone else that uses that video or audio clip
    At least there's the option of bringing a case to the European
    Court about over blocking

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

  • icon
    Blake C. Stacey (profile), 30 Apr 2021 @ 10:37am

    Apropos, there's an interesting post today from the Organization for Transformative Works, who run Archive Of Our Own (AO3):

    Germany is working on implementing Article 17, which makes significant changes in European copyright law. This has created an exciting opportunity to clarify that fan fiction is legal under German copyright law.

    The German government has sent a draft bill to the two houses of Parliament. The final vote is planned for the beginning of May. The government proposal makes clear that nonprofit websites like the Archive of Our Own should not be required to get licenses from copyright owners, as commercial websites like Facebook and YouTube will have to do. The draft bill also proposes to explicitly legalize fan fiction, fan art, and many other transformative works, as part of the EU exception for “caricature, parody and pastiche”.

    There is one problem, and one risk. The problem is that the proposal includes language that is not required by Article 17 and that could be confusing and unduly restrictive of the ability to engage in caricature, parody and pastiche. This language restricts caricature, parody and pastiche “to the extent required by the specific purpose,” which would invite second-guessing of an artist’s purpose by courts and copyright claimants. Fan fiction, like caricature, parody and pastiche in general, has its own artistic existence and courts should not ask whether a work of fan fiction takes “too much” of the characters.

    The risk is that some lobbyists are asking for a remuneration requirement for caricature, parody and pastiche—including fan fiction and fan art—even if they are not posted on commercial websites. The consequences of a payment requirement would be perverse: it would favor commercial platforms over nonprofits such as the Archive of Our Own and Wikipedia. This is because users could freely upload fan fiction, fan art, memes etc. to YouTube or Facebook, because the commercial platform would already be paying a collecting society through the implementation of Article 17, but the same users would have to pay a collecting society if they wanted to upload the same fan fiction, fan art or memes to their personal website or to a nonprofit website such as Archive of Our Own. In practice, the law would strengthen the big commercial platforms by creating an incentive for internet users to close down their private websites, leave nonprofit platforms such as AO3, and move their activities to a Facebook group instead. [...] We believe that the law should not add an additional condition, not part of Article 17, to the exception for parody, caricature and pastiche, saying that uses should only be allowed “to the extent required by the specific purpose”. This wording only serves to muddy the waters, because it is very difficult for a user to determine the extent of the use of a work that is “required” for the purpose of fan fiction, fan art, and other transformative uses. Likewise, we believe that the law should protect individual fans and noncommercial websites, and fight against the dominance of Facebook and YouTube, by rejecting a compensation requirement for the exception for parody, caricature and pastiche.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2021 @ 2:30am

      Re:

      Ah (not so) plausibility... 'We're not saying that people will have to pay for fair use in the form of caricatures, parodies and similar content, we're merely saying that the platforms that host such content would sure be a lot safer and better off if they did pay...'

      Certainly reads like they're trying to have it both ways, claiming that they aren't demanding to be paid for fan works and that sites that host such content won't be required to pay for a license, but at the same time making it so legally risky to allow such content without paying for a license that most platforms will either block it or pay up anyway.

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


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