08 Feb 2019

Copyright: Franco-German tandem strikes dangerous deal on Article 13

By EDRi

On 7 February, it became publicly known that the blockade in the Council of the European Union on the highly controversial Article 13 of the Copyright Directive proposal nears an end.

The details which had been on the heart of the disagreement between the Union’s most powerful member states, France and Germany, have now been “resolved” [read the agreement here ];. The proposal to how exactly to deal a crippling blow to the freedom of expression on the internet in the EU involves three “mitigating” clauses, added to Article 13: Websites may be exempt from filtering obligations if they are

  1. available to the public for less than three years
  2. making an annual turnover of less than 10 million Euros
  3. visited by less than five million unique visitors per month

These amendments, while supposedly proposed to the benefit of small websites and start-ups, are rendered essentially meaningless by their extremely narrow scope – just think of any online service you regularly use and see if it would make the cut for exemption! Any shosting service provider, however small it may be, and no matter how clearly its audience and services are defined, will be obliged to conclude licensing agreements with everyone producing content on the internet, meaning nearly any internet user. Hosting service providers will also have to install error prone and expensive upload filtering technologies as soon as a three-year maturity is reached, or earlier if they deliver a service that attracts visitors and capital quickly. But the immense complexity of the EU copyright system, as well as the vast number of authors with whom to establish licenses that would need to be taken into account, make it essentially impossible for smaller website providers to ever have legal certainty about their liability for their user’s conduct on their services.

In essence, the only way to to avoid liability would be adopting content filtering technologies. These are mainly provided by the same corporations who ”coincidentally” were heavily involved in lobbying the European Commission to have their products enshrined in European law. Lastly, but most importantly, upload filters will not only be extremely expensive to acquire for the website owners, but they will also pose a fundamental threat to the freedom of expression of citizens on the affected webpages, meaning essentially all websites that feature user generated content. Content recognition technologies have so far an abysmal record in achieving their set out tasks. They are fundamentally unfit to recognise the subtleties of parody, satire or any other exemption that the Directive in principle recognises, yet in practice makes impossible to protect.

The “solution” that the Franco-German tandem is proposing, and which will most likely be rubber-stamped by the Council on 8 February, is not mitigating the extreme dangers posed by Article 13 to any meaningful extent. Instead, the Council continues to head for an internet in which rightsholder societies acquire a “gatekeeper” function for the internet, with the possibility to sue any internet company that fails to delete an unlicensed piece of content uploaded by one of their thousands (or millions) of users from their platform. Mass upload filters and overblocking are likely to be outcome if this agreement is also accepted by the European Parliament.

A final trilogue session with the European parliament, taking place on 11 February, will decide on how exactly the negotiating EU institutions aim to break the internet as we know it. A vote in the plenary of the European Parliament, possibly in March or April 2019, will be the last chance for the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to listen to the concerns of entities such as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and a plethora of civil society organisations, programmers and academics.

[correction on 11 February 2019: the original publication said that the obligation in 13(4aa) was that “Websites may be exempt from concluding licensing agreements” when it should have said “Websites may be exempt from filtering obligations” ];

To #SaveYourInternet, you can get in touch with your local and national MEPs, let them know about your concerns, and ask them to reject Article 13.

Franco-German agreement ((04.02.2019)
www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Mandate-Romania-February-8.pdf

Copyright: Open Letter calling for the deletion of Articles 11 and 13 (29.01.2019)
https://edri.org/20190129-coalition-deletion-art-11-and-13/

Copyright: Compulsory filtering instead of obligatory filtering – a compromise? (04.09.2018)
https://edri.org/copyright-compulsory-filtering-instead-of-obligatory-filtering-a-compromise/

How the EU copyright proposal will hurt the web and Wikipedia (02.07;2018)
https://edri.org/how-the-eu-copyright-proposal-will-hurt-the-web-and-wikipedia/

EU Censorship Machine: Legislation as propaganda? (11.06.2018)
https://edri.org/eu-censorship-machine-legislation-as-propaganda/

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29 Jan 2019

Copyright: Open Letter calling for the deletion of Articles 11 and 13

By EDRi

On 29 January 2019, EDRi, along with a large stakeholder coalition consisting of 87 organisations, sent a letter to the Council’s Working Party on Intellectual Property, European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip and the European Parliament trilogue negotiators to ask for a deletion of the controversial Articles 11 and 13 in the Copyright Directive proposal. The letter comes in a crucial moment since the negotiations are stalled after a revised mandate for the Council failed to be adopted on 18 January.

Signatories express the view that a compromise on Article 13 seems more difficult to achieve now that, after criticism from 70 Internet luminaries, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, civil society organisations, programmers and academics,  even large parts of the creative industries are calling for a halt of negotiations on Article 13. Similar criticism has been raised about the ancillary copyright proposal in Article 11 that has lead to Google threatening to leave the EU market.

Despite two years of negotiations, European policy makers have not managed to find the right balance in the text. Thus, the letter calls to delete both Articles 11 and 13 from the proposal completely in order to allow for a swift continuation of the discussions.

Read the letter below or in pdf format here.


Open Letter calling for the deletion of Articles 11 and 13 in the copyright Directive proposal

Your Excellency Deputy Ambassador,
Dear European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip
Dear MEPs Voss, Adinolfi, Boutonnet, Cavada, Dzhambazki, Geringer de Oedenberg, Joulaud, Maštálka, Reda, Stihler,

We are writing you on behalf of business organisations, civil society organisations, creators, academics, universities, public libraries, research organisations and libraries, startups, software developers, EU online platforms, and Internet Service Providers.

Taking note of the failure of the Council to find a majority for a revised negotiation mandate on Friday 18 January, we want to reiterate our position that the manifest flaws in Articles 11 and 13 of the proposal for a Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market constitute insurmountable stumbling blocks to finding a balanced compromise on the future of Copyright in the European Union. Despite more than two years of negotiations, it has not been possible for EU policy makers to take the serious concerns of industry, civil society, academics, and international observers such as the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression into account, as the premises both Articles are built on are fundamentally wrong.

In light of the deadlock of the negotiations on Articles 11 and 13, as well as taking into consideration the cautious stance of large parts of the creative industries, we ask you to delete Articles 11 and 13 from the proposal. This would allow for a swift continuation of the negotiations, while the issues that were originally intended to be addressed by Articles 11 and 13 could be tackled in more appropriate legal frameworks than this Copyright Directive.

We hope that you will take our suggestion on board when finalising the negotiations and put forward a balanced copyright review that benefits from wide stakeholder support in the European Union.

Yours sincerely,

Undersigned organisations:

Europe
1. European Digital Rights (EDRi)

2. Allied for Startups

3. Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)

4. Copyright for Creativity (C4C)

5. Create.Refresh

6. European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA)

7. European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA)

8. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES)

9. European University Association (EUA)

10. Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER)

11. Open State Foundation

12. Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition Europe (SPARC Europe)

Austria
13. epicenter.works – for digital rights

14. Digital Society

15. Initiative für Netzfreiheit (IfNf)

16. Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA Austria)

Belgium
17. FusionDirectory

18. Opensides

19. SA&S – Samenwerkingsverband Auteursrecht & Samenleving (Partnership Copyright & Society)

Bulgaria
20. BlueLink Foundation

Czech Republic
21. Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe)

22. Seznam.cz

Denmark
23. IT-Political Association of Denmark

Estonia
24. Wikimedia Eesti

Finland
25. Electronic Frontier Finland (EFFI)

26. Finnish Federation for Communications and Teleinformatics (FiCom)

France
27. April

28. Conseil National du Logiciel Libre (CNLL)

29. NeoDiffusion

30. Renaissance Numérique

31. Uni-Deal

32. Wikimédia France

Germany
33. Bundesverband Deutsche Startups

34. Chaos Computer Club

35. Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V. (dbv)

36. Digitalcourage e.V.

37. Digitale Gesellschaft e.V.

38. eco – Association of the Internet Industry

39. Factory Berlin

40. Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft (FITUG e.V.)

41. Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL)

42. Silicon Allee

43. Wikimedia Deutschland

Greece
44. Open Technologies Alliance – GFOSS (Greek Free Open Source Software Society)

45. Homo Digitalis

Italy
46. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights

47. Roma Startup

48. Associazione per la Libertà nella Comunicazione Elettronica Interattiva (ALCEI)

Luxembourg
49. Frënn vun der Ënn

Netherlands
50. Bits of Freedom (BoF)

51. Dutch Association of Public Libraries (VOB)

52. Vrijschrift

Poland
53. Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation

54. ePaństwo Foundation

55. Startup Poland

56. ZIPSEE Digital Poland

Portugal
57. Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D³)

58. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)

Romania
59. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee)

60. Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)

Slovakia
61. Sapie.sk

Slovenia
62. Digitas Institute

63. Forum za digitalno družbo (Digital Society Forum)

Spain
64. Asociación de Internautas

65. Grupo 17 de Marzo

66. MaadiX

67. Platform in Defence of Freedom of Information (PDL) (added on 31 January 2019)

68. Rights International Spain

69. Xnet

Sweden
70. Dataskydd.net

71. Föreningen för Digitala Fri- och Rättigheter (DFRI)

United Kingdom
72. Coalition for a Digital Economy (COADEC)

73. Open Rights Group (ORG)

International
74. Alternatif Bilişim Derneği (Alternatif Bilişim) (Turkey)

75. ARTICLE 19

76. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

77. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)

78. COMMUNIA Association

79. Derechos Digitales (Latin America)

80. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

81. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)

82. Index on Censorship

83. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

84. Israel Growth Forum (Israel)

85. My Private Network

86. Open Knowledge International

87. OpenMedia

88. SHARE Foundation (Serbia)

89. SumOfUs

90. World Wide Web Foundation

 

EDRi continues to follow the negotiations closely and calls all citizens and civil society to act and defend their digital rights through the #SaveYourInternet campaign.

Copyright: Compulsory filtering instead of obligatory filtering – a compromise? (04.09.2018)
https://edri.org/copyright-compulsory-filtering-instead-of-obligatory-filtering-a-compromise/

How the EU copyright proposal will hurt the web and Wikipedia (02.07;2018)
https://edri.org/how-the-eu-copyright-proposal-will-hurt-the-web-and-wikipedia/

EU Censorship Machine: Legislation as propaganda? (11.06.2018)
https://edri.org/eu-censorship-machine-legislation-as-propaganda/

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21 Jan 2019

Copyright negotiations begin to derail

By EDRi

The negotiations on the EU’s highly controversial Copyright Directive proposal continue. The last trilogue meeting between Commission, Council and Parliament was originally scheduled for today, 21 January 2019. The event was, however, called off on late Friday evening 18 January by the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council.

It has become increasingly clear that the manifest problems with the text make it hard to find an acceptable compromise on the future of platforms’ and search engines’ liability regimes. A blocking minority formed by Germany, Poland, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary and the Netherlands did not approve the Presidency’s revised Council mandate.

This makes it less likely that the EU institutions will find a common position on the deeply flawed Article 13 of the proposal, which will either directly or indirectly require online companies to implement highly error-prone upload filters to search user uploads for copyrighted material. The divisions in the Council are yet another sign of the high degree of polarisation and increasing lack of support for the proposal, which was also highlighted by the fact that even the creative industries called for a halt of negotiations on Article 13 in a joint letter. More than 70 Internet luminaries, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, civil society organisations, programmers, and a plethora of academics have been highly critical of the proposal from the start.

The suspension of trilogue negotiations does, however, not mean that the fight against upload filters and for the freedom of expression is decided: In fact, it is now more crucial than ever to get in touch with your local Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and national ministries, and ask them to oppose Article 13.

EDRi continues to follow the negotiations closely and calls all citizens and civil society to act and defend their digital rights through the #SaveYourInternet campaign.

Copyright: Compulsory filtering instead of obligatory filtering – a compromise? (04.09.2018)
https://edri.org/copyright-compulsory-filtering-instead-of-obligatory-filtering-a-compromise/

How the EU copyright proposal will hurt the web and Wikipedia (02.07;2018)
https://edri.org/how-the-eu-copyright-proposal-will-hurt-the-web-and-wikipedia/

EU Censorship Machine: Legislation as propaganda? (11.06.2018)
https://edri.org/eu-censorship-machine-legislation-as-propaganda/

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20 Nov 2018

Letter to the EU Council: Stand for citizen’s rights and the European digital economy in the copyright negotiations!

By EDRi

On 19 November 2018, EDRi, together with 53 other NGOs, sent a letter to the Council of the European Union. The letter draws attention to the ongoing concerns regarding the proposal on copyright in the Digital Single Market, ahead of a crucial meeting on 23 November.

You can read the letter here (pdf) and below:

Your Excellency Deputy Ambassador,

We, the undersigned, are writing to you ahead of the 23 November COREPER 1 meeting, at which copyright in the Digital Single Market will be discussed by the Austrian Council Presidency. We consider that it is too early at this stage to give a renewed mandate to the Austrian Presidency.

Representing human, privacy, civil rights and media freedom organisations, software developers, creators, journalists, radio stations, higher education institutions and research institutions, we would like to draw your attention to our ongoing concerns regarding the proposal. We believe that both the Council and the Parliament texts risk creating severe impediments to the functioning of the Internet and the freedom of expression of all. In previous open letters of April 26 (here) and July 2 (here), we urged European policymakers to deliver a reform that upholds fundamental rights of all to freedom of expression as well as core principles such as limitation of internet intermediaries’ liability (which is essential to ensure the balance of rights repeatedly required by CJEU rulings) and access to knowledge.

In the current negotiations, these values are severely threatened, most importantly due to:

  • Art. 13 (upload filters): Changing or reinterpreting the liability regime for platforms and making them directly liable is a threat to fundamental rights as +70 Internet luminaries, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, NGOs, programmers, and academics have stated repeatedly. The resultant upload filters (“content recognition technologies”) would push internet intermediaries to rely on technologies that are error prone, intrusive and legally questionable1. Relying on very imperfect algorithms to regulate free speech online will put the diversity of opinions and creative content at risk. The legal uncertainty created for European companies will mean that they will never know how much filtering will be enough to be considered to be “enough” for 27 national transpositions of the Directive. The only option will be blocking of legal content.
  • Art. 11 (press publishers’ right): As analysed by a plethora of academics (see here and here, for example), a press publishers’ right is not needed and will have only harmful outcomes. Furthermore, as a result of this proposal, user-shared links on social media, news aggregation websites and search engines will no longer show extracts or will become unavailable, posing limits to the freedom of citizens to seek and impart information. Media plurality will suffer as new or innovative news sources will no longer be treated equally in the display of results on the internet. Additionally, user-created content on platforms will no longer be able to include extracts of licensed works, as quotation rules among European countries are not harmonised.

For the ongoing trilogue negotiations, we urge you to reject obligatory or “voluntary” coerced filters and to keep the current liability regime intact. Enforcement of copyright must not become a pre-emptive, arbitrary and privately-enforced censorship of legal content.

Moreover, we ask you to hear the voice of academic research that a press publishers’ right will not have the intended effect and will instead lead to a less informed European society.1

For all of the above reasons, we call on you to take a firm stance for citizen’s rights and the European digital economy in the ongoing trilogue negotiations. We call on you to stand up for a copyright that respects the foundations of a free, innovative and open digital society that delivers a vibrant, open marketplace for artists and their works.

Best regards,

EUROPE
1. Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)
2. European Digital Learning Network (DLEARN)
3. European Digital Rights (EDRi)
4. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES)
5. Knowledge Ecology International Europe (KEI Europe)
6. Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU AUSTRIA
7. epicenter.works – for digital rights
8. Freischreiber – Verein zur Förderung des freien Journalismus

BELGIUM
9. KlasCement.net

BULGARIA
10. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

CROATIA
11.Digital DemoCroatia

CZECH REPUBLIC
12. EDUin

DENMARK
13. IT-Political Association of Denmark

ESTONIA
14. Estonian Human Rights Centre

FRANCE
15. Wikimédia France

GERMANY
16. Chaos Computer Club
17. Digitale Gesellschaft e.V.
18. Freischreiber
19. Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL)
20. Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V.
21. Wikimedia Deutschland

GREECE
22. Open Technologies Alliance – GFOSS (Greek Free Open Source Software Society)

ITALY
23. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights

LUXEMBOURG
24. Frënn vun der Ënn

NETHERLANDS
25. Bits of Freedom (BoF)
26. Kennisland

NORWAY
27. Elektronisk Forpost Norge

POLAND
28. Centrum Cyfrowe
29. ePa ń stwo Foundation

PORTUGAL
30. Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D³)
31. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)

ROMANIA
32. ActiveWatch
33. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee)
34. Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)
35. Centrul pentru Inovare Public ă (Center for Public Innovation)
36. Digital Citizens Romania

SLOVENIA
37. Digitas Institute
38. Forum za digitalno družbo (Digital Society Forum)
39. Intellectual Property Institute

SPAIN
40. Asociación de Internautas
41. Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI)
42. Rights International Spain
43. Xnet

SWEDEN
44. Wikimedia Sverige

UNITED KINGDOM
45. Open Rights Group (ORG)
46. Statewatch

GLOBAL
47. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
48. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)
49. COMMUNIA Association
50. Creative Commons
51. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
52. Open Knowledge International
53. OpenMedia
54. Wikimedia

 

LIST OF ADDITIONAL SIGNATURES

Update on 20 November 2018

55. World Wide Web Foundation (Global)

 

Update on 3 December 2018

56. Electronic Frontier Finland (Finland)


1 See CJEU cases Scarlet VS SABAM (C-70/10) in filtering and Promusicae v Telefónica (C/275/06) on the obligations of Member States on balance of rights.

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10 Oct 2018

What’s next for Europe’s internet censorship plan?

By Guest author

In September 2018, a key European vote brought the EU much closer to a system of universal mass censorship and surveillance, in the name of defending copyright.

Members of the EU Parliament voted to advance the new Copyright Directive, even though it contained two extreme and unworkable clauses: Article 13 (“censorship machines”) that would filter everything everyone posts to online platforms to see if matches a crowdsourced database of “copyrighted works” that anyone could add anything to; and Article 11 (“the link tax”), a ban on quote more than one word from an article when linking to them unless you are using a platform that has paid for a linking license. The link tax provision allows, but does not require, member states to create exceptions and limitations to protect online speech.

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With the vote out of the way, the next step is the “trilogues”. These closed-door meetings are held between representatives from European national governments, the European Commission, and the European Parliament. This is the last time the language of the Directive can be substantially altered without a (rare) second Parliamentary debate.

Normally the trilogues are completely opaque. But Julia Reda, the German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) who has led the principled opposition to Articles 11 and 13, has committed to publishing all of the negotiating documents from the Trilogues as they take place. (Reda is relying on a recent European Court of Justice ruling that upheld the right of the public to know what’s going on in the trilogues.)

This is an incredibly important moment. The trilogues are not held in secret because the negotiators are sure that you’ll be delighted with the outcome and don’t want to spoil the surprise. They’re meetings where well-organised, powerful corporate lobbyists’ voices are heard and the public is unable to speak. By making these documents public, Reda is changing the way European law is made, and not a moment too soon.

Articles 11 and 13 are so defective as to be unsalvageable; when they are challenged in the European Court of Justice, they may well be struck down. In the meantime, the trilogues — if they do their job right — must struggle to clarify their terms so that some of their potential for abuse and their unnavigable ambiguity is resolved.

The trilogues have it in their power to expand on the Directive’s hollow feints toward due process and proportionality and produce real, concrete protections that will minimise the damage this terrible law wreaks while we work to have it invalidated by the courts.

Existing copyright filters (like YouTube’s ContentID system) are set up to block people who attract too many copyright complaints, but what about people who make false copyright claims? The platforms must be allowed to terminate access to the copyright filter system for those who repeatedly make false or inaccurate claims about which copyright works are theirs.

A public record of which rightsholders demanded which takedowns would be vital for transparency and oversight, but could only work if implemented at a mandatory, EU level.

On links, the existing Article 11 language does not define when quotation amounts to a use that must be licensed, though proponents have argued that quoting more than a single word requires a license.

The trilogues could resolve that ambiguity by carving out a clear safe harbour for users, and ensure that there’s a consistent set of Europe-wide exceptions and limitations to news media’s new pseudo-copyright that ensure they don’t overreach with their power.

The trilogues must safeguard against dominant players (Google, Facebook, the news giants) creating licensing agreements that exclude everyone else.

News sites should be permitted to opt out of requiring a license for inbound links (so that other services could confidently link to them without fear of being sued), but these opt-outs must be all-or-nothing, applying to all services, so that the law doesn’t add to Google’s market power by allowing them to negotiate an exclusive exemption from the link tax, while smaller competitors are saddled with license fees.

The trilogues must establish a clear definition of “noncommercial, personal linking”, clarifying whether making links in a personal capacity from a for-profit blogging or social media platform requires a license, and establishing that (for example) a personal blog with ads or affiliate links to recoup hosting costs is “noncommercial”.

These patches are the minimum steps that the trilogues must take to make the Directive clear enough to understand and obey. They won’t make the Directive fit for purpose – merely coherent enough to understand. Implementing these patches would at least demonstrate that the negotiators understand the magnitude of the damage the Directive will cause to the internet.

From what we’ve gathered in whispers and hints, the leaders of the trilogues recognise that these Articles are the most politically contentious of the Directive — but those negotiators think these glaring, foundational flaws can be finessed in a few weeks, with a few closed door meetings.

We’re sceptical, but at least there’s a chance that we’ll see what is going on. We’ll be watching for Reda’s publication of the negotiating documents and analysing them as they appear. In the meantime, you can and should talk to your MEP about talking to your country’s trilogue reps about softening the blow that the new Copyright Directive is set to deliver to our internet.

This article was originally published by EDRi member Electronic Frontier Foundation https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/10/whats-next-europes-internet-censorship-plan-0

Today, Europe Lost The Internet. Now, We Fight Back. (12.09.2018)
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/09/today-europe-lost-internet-now-we-fight-back

Trilogues: the system that undermines EU democracy and transparency (20.04.2016)
https://edri.org/trilogues-the-system-that-undermines-eu-democracy-and-transparency/

Press Release: The European Parliament must in principle grant access, on specific request, to
documents relating to ongoing trilogues (22.03.2018)
https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2018-03/cp180035en.pdf

Save Your Internet
https://saveyourinternet.eu/

(Contribution by Cory Doctorow)

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10 Sep 2018

Censorship Machines or citizens? EU Parliament decides on Wednesday

By Diego Naranjo

On Wednesday 12 September 2018 at noon, the European Parliament will be voting again on the copyright Directive.

As EDRi and 57 other NGOs have been saying since the proposal was launched, and it has been said by academia, the UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Internet luminaries, and many others Article 13 of the Directive is a fundamentally flawed proposal.

The vote in July prevented the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee from entering directly into secret negotiations (called trilogues) with the EU Council and there has been a little more time to keep debating different aspects of the Directive and to propose new alternative texts (amendments). These new amendments were discussed over the last two weeks, in closed-door meetings in the Parliament.

These amendments go from making the text even more unclear and damaging (the ones proposed by the Rapporteur Axel Voss MEP and Cavada MEP) to deletion and almost everything in between.

The best option for dealing with a bad proposal is to delete it, so this is what MEPs should be asked to vote for. However, the EU works on the basis of compromise, and some MEPs may not wish to vote for outright rejection. In that case, we would encourage those MEPs who won’t ask for deletion that to support the amendment from the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), which is a compromise that has received significant cross-party support.

If you have not contacted your MEP yet, you still have time! Go to www.saveyourinternet.eu and call, tweet or email your MEP and let them know your opposition to upload filters.

Read more:

Copyright: Compulsory filtering instead of obligatory filtering – a compromise? (04.08.2018)
https://edri.org/copyright-compulsory-filtering-instead-of-obligatory-filtering-a-compromise/

EP Plenary on the Copyright Directive – Who voted what? (23.07.2018)
https://edri.org/who-voted-what-in-the-ep-plenary-on-the-copyright-directive/

Press Release: EU Parliamentarians support an open, democratic debate on Copyright Directive (05.07.2018)
https://edri.org/press-release-eu-parliamentarians-support-open-democratic-debate-around-copyright-directive/

Action plan against the first obligatory EU internet filter (28.06.2018)
https://edri.org/strategy-against-the-first-obligatory-eu-internet-filter/

Moving Parliament’s copyright discussions into the public domain (27.06.2018)
https://edri.org/moving-parliaments-copyright-discussions-into-the-public-domain-2-0/

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28 Jun 2018

Re-Deconstructing upload filters proposal in the copyright Directive

By Diego Naranjo

This week we have published a new analysis of the proposal for upload filters in the Copyright Directive proposal. The paper is a new paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of relevant parts in the text adopted by the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI Committee). The work complements our first analysis of the initial proposal by the Commission.

In our new analysis you will be able to read the relevant adopted texts by JURI, on the left, and our explanation of what these paragraphs mean in practice on the right. The necessity of our new detailed analysis lies in the recent misunderstandings about what the text means and what it doesn’t mean. This text could become the basis of the negotiations between the EU Parliament and the Council. MEPs will decide whether the Copyright Directive is built on closed-door negotiations or an open, democratic debate during the 5th of July vote in the EU Parliament’s Plenary vote.

Your action is crucial to keep an open internet which is free of upload filters.
Act now: Ask you MEPs to attend and vote in your interest on the 5th of July! #SaveYourInternet!

Read more:

Moving Parliament’s copyright discussions into the public domain (27.06.2018)
https://edri.org/moving-parliaments-copyright-discussions-into-the-public-domain-2-0/

We can still win: Next steps for the Copyright Directive (20.06.2018)
https://edri.org/next-steps-copyright-directive-article-13/

Press Release: MEPs ignore expert advice and vote for mass internet censorship (20.06.2018)
https://edri.org/press-release-meps-ignore-expert-advice-and-vote-for-mass-internet-censorship/

EU Censorship Machine: Legislation as propaganda? (11.06.2018)
https://edri.org/eu-censorship-machine-legislation-as-propaganda/

Copyright Directive: Busting the myths (13.12.2017)
https://edri.org/censorship-machine-busting-myths/

(Contribution by Diego Naranjo, Senior Policy Advisor)

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27 Jun 2018

Moving Parliament’s copyright discussions into the public domain

By Joe McNamee

With just eleven months to go before the 2019 European elections, European citizens’ reactions to certain aspects of the Copyright Directive mean that there is more interest than ever in what decisions are being made by the European Parliament, as well as how these decisions are made. This is great news for pro-Europeans and a great opportunity for the Parliament to demonstrate its democratic credentials… or great news for Eurosceptics if the Parliament fails to deliver. It is clear for all stakeholders involved that in order for the legitimacy of the Copyright file to be maintained, JURI’s negotiation mandate needs to be rejected next week. 

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On the 5th of July there will be a vote on whether to start secretive, undemocratic closed-door “trilogue” meetings with the EU Council, or to have a public discussion of the full Parliament in September.

An open debate and an opportunity for all MEPs to have their say on this clearly very important topic would greatly benefit the democratic process. For this reason, civil society has urged MEPs to vote for a public debate on the Directive and, therefore, against the negotiating mandate.

However, representatives of the copyright lobby, as well as certain Parliamentarians claim that citizens are misinformed. In order to clarify the issues, we have prepared a detailed line by line analysis of the adopted text in Article 13 in the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI).

A public discussion would help clarify some of the misunderstandings that have been circulating:

1. “This is only about Google and Facebook”

The definition describing the companies that are covered is very unclear. Indeed, Axel Voss MEP said on German TV that he was not even sure if Google and Facebook are covered and that the scope of the Directive will be subject to interpretation by the Court of Justice of the European Union (Zapp, NDR TV, 13 June 2018).

2. “This is only about videos and music”

Article 13 covers all kinds of content that can be uploaded – text, images, music, audiovisual content and even choreography.

3. “The JURI text does not include any mention of upload filters”

The text refers to:
–  “measures leading to the non-availability of copyright or related-right infringing works or other subject-matter” (Article 13.1) – which means upload filters
–  based on the relevant information provided by rightholders (Article 13.1a) – which means the lists of files to be filtered out
– such as implementing effective technologies (recital 38) – which means upload filters.

4. “The proposal says that the Charter of Fundamental Rights must be respected in the agreements between rightsholders and service providers”

The Charter of Fundamental Rights is binding on Member States and the European Commission. It is not binding on agreements between private companies.

5. “No personal data will be processed by the filters”

The proposal says that there must be a complaints mechanism in place. How can users complain about their work being filtered when it will be
impossible to match the complainant with the material that has been filtered?

6. “Memes are not covered”

The EU Copyright Exception for parody has been implemented differently across the EU and not implemented at all in some Member States. Therefore, unquestionably, memes are covered by the proposal and would be filtered by very imperfect algorithms, if the proposal is adopted in its current form.

7. “Agreements have to be “appropriate and proportionate””

Yes, this is true. But for whom do they need to be appropriate and proportionate? Logically, they need to be appropriate and proportionate for the parties to the agreement – and users are not parties to the agreements!

8. “There is an obligatory complaints mechanism”

Article 13 makes it clear that internet companies are free to impose their own terms and conditions. So, internet companies would have a choice – admit that content was being filtered on the basis of the law and implement a complicated and expensive complaints mechanism – or filter on the basis of their terms and conditions and avoid the expense of implementing a complaints mechanism. They won’t implement a meaningful complaints mechanism!

9. “There is no general monitoring obligation”

A general obligation to monitor all uploads searching for millions of text, audio, audiovisual and image files is a general monitoring obligation.

Read more:

Re-Deconstructing upload filters proposal in the copyright Directive (28.06.2018)
https://edri.org/redeconstructing-article13/

We can still win: Next steps for the Copyright Directive (20.06.2018)
https://edri.org/next-steps-copyright-directive-article-13/

Press Release: MEPs ignore expert advice and vote for mass internet censorship (20.06.2018)
https://edri.org/press-release-meps-ignore-expert-advice-and-vote-for-mass-internet-censorship/

EU Censorship Machine: Legislation as propaganda? (11.06.2018)
https://edri.org/eu-censorship-machine-legislation-as-propaganda/

Copyright Directive: Busting the myths (13.12.2017)
https://edri.org/censorship-machine-busting-myths/

(Contribution by Joe McNamee, EDRi Executive Director)

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30 May 2018

Join the coordinated calls against EU’s Censorship Machine

By Andreea Belu

Several organisations in different European countries have picked up their phones and mobilised against Article 13. Article 13 introduces automated filters for user content being uploaded on online platforms. The measure is part of EU’s proposal for a new Copyright Directive and poses huge threats to individuals’ rights and freedoms, but also obliges online platforms like Google and Facebook to monitor our communications and become the Internet police.

The goal of our calls is to convince the key undecided MEPs in the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament to oppose a censored internet, filtered by automated algorithms under the control of internet giants.

Why now?

JURI is set to vote on its opinion on the 20th-21st of June. Once JURI concludes on its position, it will hold secret talks with the European Council – who already adopted their negotiating position – and reach an agreement.

The bad news? The European Council decided to support mass monitoring and filtering of internet uploads on the 25th of May. The good news? Some MEPs in the JURI Committee are opposing the measure and some are undecided. Unfortunately, the number of MEPs against Article 13 is not yet enough to block the proposal. If we do not convince just a few more to oppose the article too, we will lose the JURI vote. We can not allow this to happen, if we should preserve the internet free from censorship machines.

What now?

While sending emails to MEPs implies less effort than calling them, emails can also be less effective as they can be easily ignored or deleted by email spam filters. Phonecalls can not be ignored and are therefore the most efficient method to (literally) make our voices heard. Anyway, when is the last time you talked to an European Parliamentarian?

Join the movement against the Censorship Machine!

In the past weeks, organisations in Romania, The Netherlands and the UK have phoned the key undecided MEPs. Next week, campaigns will be launched in Spain and phonecall meetings will take place in Bulgaria. The EDRi office will mobilise and spend an hour on Tuesday the 5th of June contacting targeted MEPs. The SaveYourInternet movement is also planning a call storm on the 12th of June. Are you going to join us in calling the crucial undecided JURI MEPs? Here’s what you can do:

  • Grab your phone and call ! Here’s some tips on best practices, a suggestion for a call script and a free calling tool.
  • Organise NGOs and friends in a gathering. We prepared guidance for organising and conducting meetings. Easy-peasy, trust us!

Get in touch at andreea.belu(at)edri.org for more materials and coordination tips or if you want to share how your call session went.

Read More

Save Your Internet
https://saveyourinternet.eu/

Proposed internet filter will strip citizens of their rights: Your action is needed! (28.03.2018)
https://edri.org/proposed-internet-filter-will-strip-citizens-of-their-rights/

#CensorshipMachine – How will the decision be taken? (19.03.2018)
https://edri.org/censorshipmachine-how-will-the-decision-be-taken/

5 Devastating Effects of the EU’s Copyright Proposal (29.03.2018)
https://www.liberties.eu/en/news/5-devastating-effects-of-the-eu-copyright-proposal/14659

Copyright Reform: Document Pool
https://edri.org/copyright-reform-document-pool/

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02 May 2018

Leak: The “copyright troika” launches another censorship machine attack

By Joe McNamee

On 27 April, a two-hour discussion was held on the Copyright Directive in the Council of the European Union. The meeting discussed text and data mining, restrictions on quoting from and linking to news articles and the infamous “censorship machine” – mandatory upload filters for European web hosting companies. No deal was reached and new discussions will happen on 4 May.

At the meeting, France, Spain and Portugal (joined by Italy this time) once again tabled extreme measures that would restrict freedom of expression, undermine the ability of European Internet companies to conduct a business, and create huge collateral damage for fundamental rights worldwide. France, Spain and Portugal previously tabled a similar lobbyist-driven proposal in October 2017.

This time, the suggestions include:

Article 2.5 and recital 37a

  • Broadening the scope of the companies covered by the proposals in the Directive to any company whose main activity is to provide hosting of web content, regardless of profit motive. The proposal leaves intact the chaotic approach of excluding certain (badly defined) services, such as “not-for-profit open source software developing platforms” which attempts – but fails – to exclude services like Github.
  • Broadening the scope of the companies covered by the proposals in the Directive by removing a proposed limitation to only cover companies with a profit motive and, again, specifying that certain badly-defined services can be exempted if their activity is not “for profit making purposes”.

Rationale: Ironically, the countries justify this new, chaotic, language on the basis that it “creates legal certainty”.

Article 13.4

As a rather hilarious concession, the Member States suggest that services that impose upload filtering cannot be subject to criminal sanctions (or damages). In short, if European companies:

  • implement upload filters
  • implement a “notice and takedown” system, which also prevents future uploads and
  • ensure that all measures have been “agreed upon by rightsholders,”

…then (and only then) can they be protected from the legal chaos that the Directive creates.

A remarkable compromise, indeed.

Article 13.5

Here, the four countries propose an incomprehensible obligation to “take into account” the nature and size of the rightsholders that need to agree to the “effective and proportionate” measures that internet service providers are required to implement.

Article 13.8

Member States are encouraged to establish the “necessary mechanisms” to assess the appropriateness (but not proportionality) of the measures being implemented by the companies. In short, once the internet companies have finished agreeing with big and small rightsholders about the upload filtering technologies that European providers will need to pay for and implement, in order to filter out audio, audiovisual, visual and text works and other subject matter, those technologies should then also be subject to review by Member States.

Leak: Three EU countries join forces for restrictions & copyright chaos (26.10.2017)
https://edri.org/leak-three-eu-countries-join-forces-to-stamp-out-free-speech-online/

Copyright reform: Document pool
https://edri.org/copyright-reform-document-pool/

Copyright reform: State of play (10.01.2018)
https://edri.org/copyright-reform-state-play/

(Contribution by Joe McNamee, EDRi)

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