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EU wants to require platforms to filter uploaded content, including code (blog.github.com)
681 points by calcifer 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 345 comments



Automated filters on content sharing platforms kill creativity. Entire sports disappear from Youtube because they are traditionally accompanied by music.

Think of ice skating. It's been years since I stopped uploading videos of ice skaters to Youtube, because they are automatically deleted based on music matching their filtering database. Others in my ice skating circle share videos on Amazon Prime Photos or similar platforms, never on Youtube.


There should be laws that allow people to sue for damage if wrongfully taken down.


There are. AFAIK, it's never been applied.


If you're referring to the DMCA, there are two important things to know:

1. YouTube supports DMCA notices, because it has to in order to keep safe harbor, but YouTube's preferred/automated system does not use DMCA notices and so is not bound by the DMCA's rules.

2. It's next to impossible to meet the standard for getting punishment/damages out of a false DMCA takedown. The only part of a notice that's made under penalty of perjury is that assertion that you are, or are authorized to act on behalf of, a copyright holder. The claim of infringement is not made under penalty of perjury. The infamous Diebold case did get damages, but only because Diebold literally admitted in court "we knew this wasn't infringing but sent a takedown anyway". As long as the sender of the takedown notice isn't quite that stupid, they won't be on the hook for anything.


Number 1 is the biggest. Youtube’s ContentID system isn’t based on the DMCA


The problem is probably calculating damages, or at least finding damages that outweigh the cost of taking legal action. Projected ad revenue share isn't worth the effort on its own for most people.

Some might cry foul at this. As a thought experiment, I wonder if such cases are worth clogging up our court systems. Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying that violations of law ought to go without remediation... but purely from a pragmatic point of view, I'm not sure that the system is currently set up to handle lawsuits over this as a recourse.


Of course it’s not set up to handle this kind of thing, which is exactly why they do it. You may be legally in the right but have no real recourse.


What alternatives might be available that simultaneously preserve due process for both the accusor and accused when potential damages are anywhere from zero to less than the costs of filing a lawsuit?

In the US, I'm not sure if small claims courts would handle such a speculative case.

We could set up extrajudicial processes via executive bureaucracy, but the end result is simply less transparent courts.

I suppose we could compel businesses to manually validate takedown requests and the like... I am also imagining that would be ripe for abuse to the point it ends up being used antagonistically and ultimately drives down shared revenue for all participants to offset the cost.


A less automated process. Maybe YouTube’s algorithm flags your video but instead of taking it down automatically it gets reviewed by a person who maybe even contacts you. That way you get a chance to justify yourself. Sure, it’s more work for them but it means the uploaded gets a voice in the process that they seem to currently lack. I imagine some of the more obvious false positives could be easily ha does this way.


The DMCA has a counter-claim system. In 2008, Thunderf00t (Phil Mason) quite famously had many of his videos wrongfully taken down by a Christian Extremist called VenomFangX using the DMCA. Phil went through the process of suing him, though they eventually settled, and VenomFangX had to quit YouTube for a year. There was a video series about it[1].

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szlgB1AD5hI


Yeah, of course more laws is the perfect solution. A law for a law, multiply and double.. two times over at least.


I don't see the problem. I occasionally upload dance performance videos with copyrighted music on Youtube. Then Youtube sends me a copyright notice and gives part of their ad revenue to the music owner. That seems fair.


It's not part. It's all. It's well known people can claim a video then get ALL the revenue, or disable it altogether. Also, don't get 3 strikes or you're fucked.


I had fun when I uploaded my classical piano performance to YouTube and it got flagged as copyright infringement by some weird company. I was not sure if I should be upset or flattered :D


More like mad to the point of meltdown.

Seriously though, when you copy and upload 'their' (in many cases the author is long dead, or in your case they even attacked the author) works of art it's "How dare you, you are single-handedly responsible for the breakdown of the fabric of society. You should be locked up forever, we lost over 1bn moneyz because of your video!!!!11"

But when they store and sell your age gender and other personal data to other shitheads that want to sell you useless stuff you don't need it's all fine and dandy.

This is why I will always endorse piracy at user's discretion as a way to harm stupid greedy corporations relying on a broken copyright law.


FWIW, if they claim your video (and don't take it down) you don't get a strike.


If it works in baseball it works literally everywhere!


No it's part of the revenue, not all. Youtube (Alphabet) keeps some and the music copyright holder gets the rest.


All of the revenue that matters.

All of the revenue that otherwise would have been the uploaders.


Those of us uploading amateur dance and sports videos weren't really getting any revenue in the first place so I don't see your point. 70% of 0 is still 0. But then I've never felt entitled to make a profit from someone else's content.


Then use free music on your video if you want to make money?

If I want to use someones music in my ad or product showcase or movie or anything that will make money I need to pay those artists for using their work. You should also IF you want to make money from it.


People are claiming free music, too. That statement might be misleading as written. I think the most common version of it is if two creators derive from the same free source, one of them may use one of the automated copyright claiming systems and it could claim the other.


If I can hear or view it I should be able to share it.


Why?


The difference here is apparently they're deleting OP's videos, while only removing a portion of your revenue. I wonder if OP is monetizing the videos too, or if practices have changed in the intervening years.


> gives part of their ad revenue to the music owner. That seems fair.

It's only fair if the money goes to the real copyright holder. We know that Youtube is broken here, and allows non-copyright holders to claim the ownership.


This. Luckily someone torrented the olympic freeskating, so I could watch it with my kids.


Is this music a skater has picked to perform to or background music played by the venue?


Every ice skater chooses their music months beforehand. The music is timed to the routine and movements will emphasize beats in the music too. Some skaters will compose new music for their routine or work with artists to co-create a new musical/skating piece. I believe Carolina Costner of Italy has done this in the past (please check me on that though, google has nothing to say).

Suffice to say, the music they choose may be copyrighted or long out of copyright (I'm looking at you Carmen). Skaters are never paid for competitions, thus they can play their music without worry at the events. Recently, music with words has now been allowed at competitions.

Here is a brief over-view of music and ice skating: https://twitter.com/voxdotcom/status/965031866775437312


If a competitor wins a prize does that prize constitute income for tax purposes?

I don’t mean in the specific case of ice skating but in the general professional performer / athlete sense.


I don't know if they still do but historically they had to pay.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/08...


Why not? Everybody else does.


Indeed - I wasn't clear if the videos mentioned were performances as you describe or footage of friends/family on a public rink. thanks for the extra info.


> Skaters are never paid for competitions, thus they can play their music without worry at the events.

In this case, isn't the usage covered by the event venue paying ASCAP? I don't think there's an exemption for "but I'm not making any money off of it".


Turns out, the copyright issue is a complicated, but settled, issue:

> But the basic rule is simple: Standard licensing fees paid by broadcasters cover these uses, and the money makes its way, eventually, to songwriters as royalties.

Most of the time, when songs are included on television, producers have to pay for a so-called synchronization license from music publishers. Negotiations can lead to high fees for the most in-demand pieces, like Beatles songs.

But since the Olympics are considered a “live event,” even when tape-delayed, no such special permission is needed, said Steve Winogradsky, a lawyer who is an expert in music licensing. [0]

[0]https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/arts/music/olympics-figur...


I doubt it matters.


It does not, but indeed I was referring to the music used in the skating programme.


So if I understand correctly it's picked by the skater and integral to their performance made to an audience. Is it licenced for use at the event?

I would prefer you didn't have such issues with sharing videos.


An ice skater programme does not use the music as is. The music is edited one way or another to fit the time allocated for the programme. Sometimes a skater uses two or more pieces of music mixed together.

I do not know about the Olympics but I checked with the national ice skating federation, and there are apparently no special licensing fees for ice skating events. Ice rinks pay the usual fees for public performance, though.


Ah - yes it's the public performance license fee that I was thinking of. Thanks for clarifying.


Despite being an early(ish) Bitcoin investor and believer I’ve been very cynical about ICOs and altcoins. My view has taken a pretty abrupt change in the past month. The internet can be successfully re-decentralized, and we have the means to do it. Between all of the scams and clueless developers, some will get it right. Unfortunately, for some, it means things like Uber, Airbnb, WhatsApp and others probably belong as protocols rather than commercial ventures that make SV and California so wealthy.


People need to understand the different parts that make the EU administration. The EU commission is not "the EU". It's the parliament that decides if proposals of the commission become law. The parliament has a history of rejecting stupid proposals (e.g. software patents).

But the Github folks are right! Please, tell your MEPs that/why this is a stupid idea - it's important!

(I sometimes wonder why the commission proposes stupid things. Uninformed? Corruption, uhm I mean lobbying?)


The Commission is made up of member states and they often push through unpopular proposals that they'd never get through their home legislatures, a process known as "policy laundering". When an unpopular measure comes from the EU they can say "oh look, bad Brussels / bad EU made us do it", even when it was their own suggestion in the first place. The UK government has a particular history here, which is why it's ironic that we're attempting to leave the EU.


Not really ironic. It is exactly one of the reasons that I want to leave. It's very easy for our government to subvert democracy by having the EU make unpopular legislation.

If our government brings in legislation then I want them to be accountable to that, and not have the ability to pass the buck.


Yes and no. We're still going to have to manufacture everything according to EU and global standards if we want to sell stuff outside our own borders. It's just now we're about to lose any influence and votes over how those standards are made.

You may (and quite rightly) say that EU elections are not decided on these issues and particular EU Parliament representatives have been useless and actively undermining the EU, but that's not really the EU's fault.


Why do you lose a say over global standards? Surely you now represent yourselves directly on global standards bodies, instead of indirectly via the EU's common position?


But there's no representation on the EU standards bodies at all, and realistically there are two kinds of standard manufacturers tend to care about: US (mostly UL) and CE.


The EU's standards often just transcribe the standards agreed at a global level, though [1]

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/automotive/legislation/u...


Often != Always, though.

Losing the ability to affect these European standards is a price to pay, Brexit being one big trade-off after all. But I'm still unclear on what the advantages are that make it worth it.


You need a certain amount of heft to have your way in standards bodies. 500m people in the EU vs 65m in the UK ...

Plus global standards are now being derived from EU standards.


That 500 million includes the UK...


Because like a human is less influential than a country, so is a country less influential than 28 countries.


28 countries that can barely agree that the sun rises every day


Which is why you need a formal political process! If everyone already agreed on everything then there wouldn't be much point


That's hardly an unreasonable situation given that it very much depends on where you are in the world and what time of year it is.

The wider point here being that of course they don't agree on "basic" matters - neither does everybody within a single country.


Maybe for now, but it's looking increasingly possible that the EU won't be around or will be significantly diminished in the relatively near future. Salvini becoming PM in Italy would likely accelerate this a lot.


Don't believe the hype. After campaigning for years on a NOEURO platform, one week in he's already said we won't leave the eurozone quickly, which is akin to say we never will.


Salvini will not become PM in Italy. His center-right coalition was held together by the requirements of our electoral law and is already starting to fall apart. Di Maio will most likely become the PM of a very weak coalition and while his party had strong anti-EU claims they pretty much retracted every single one of them as soon as the polls started to show a strong chance of winning the election.


People have been saying that since the EU was created. Excuse my scepticism.


Scepticism is reasonable, but the future of the EU -- or the EU in its current form, if you prefer -- is also a reasonable thing to consider.

Among the discussions I had before the referendum, perhaps the clearest pro-Leave voices were a couple of very highly qualified and experienced economists. Their basic position was simple enough: the EU has not fixed the fundamental vulnerabilities in its economic and political structure that caused the big problems a few years ago, and so they considered it more likely than not that the EU would run into serious problems again in the not-too-distant future.

Between that risk and the general trends in global trade, they felt that on balance it would be healthier to shift our economy and foreign trade to be less dependent on the EU and build stronger trading relationships with the rest of the world. That in turn requires distancing ourselves from the "ever closer union" vision and being free of the constraints that come with belonging to the EU's customs union.


What you just described as constraints are what brush bureaucracy aside for me every day in business with the EU. The customs union is a dream, it even makes dealing with countries outside of the EU much easier


The customs union is a dream, it even makes dealing with countries outside of the EU much easier

How does imposing high tariffs and onerous non-tariff barriers make dealing with countries outside the EU easier? The advantages of the Customs Union for internal EU trade are clear, but this is the first time I've ever seen someone argue that it's advantageous for external trade as well.


> high tariffs

https://fullfact.org/europe/uk-leaving-eu-trade/

" EU’s trade weighted average MFN tariff was 2.3% for non-agricultural products. This is an average figure and tariffs on some individual products are much higher, especially on agricultural goods. The EU tariff on cars, for example, is 10%."

Is 2.3% really worthy of being called "high"? Many of these tariffs are reciprocal anyway.

The customs union allows containers to unload at Rotterdam and perform customs clearance once there, in a giant dedicated facility, before being transshipped to wherever they are destined for.


Is 2.3% really worthy of being called "high"?

Perhaps not for most industries, although presumably this is a relative scale and those working with tight margins might disagree. But as you point out yourself, the tariffs do vary significantly by industry and can be much higher in some cases.

One could equally point out that average tariffs under the WTO arrangements are also only a small percentage, which is falling, but can also be significantly higher in some sectors. Apparently quite a few people are concerned that the harder possible varieties of Brexit would cause trade with the EU to suffer severely because of those tariffs.

My personal view is that the tariffs look like a relatively small barrier overall, and while we should be careful about the sectors that could be hit much harder, it's the non-tariff barriers where we should be concentrating most of our attention.


Surely the obvious problem with trade weighting as a measurement of the average tariff is that it's biased against sectors where very few imports happen because the tariffs on those goods render them uneconomical?


Because there is a common well established set of rules with lots of other countries that makes the (electronic) paperwork really easy. In fact admin wise it is no harder to import from Chile than France. The CCT is to much simpler than having 28 sets of rules for countries who want to sell into the EU.

Tariffs are there but that is not unique to the EU, indeed one might point to the USA and metal tariffs... When you say 'non-tariff barriers' do you mean the safety standards or the quality standards? They are both barriers I'm very happy to have.


Interesting perspective. As someone who's on the services side rather than goods, I'm not so familiar with the practicalities here, so thanks for sharing.

I'm still rather surprised to see someone write that importing from outside the EU is no harder in terms of admin than importing from within. Surely importing from elsewhere within the EU needs very little admin at all, so if goods crossing the EU border are also not a big deal in practice, why do you think parts of our business community are so concerned about the overheads of trade with the EU post-Brexit if we wind up outside the SM/CU?


>why do you think parts of our business community are so concerned about the overheads of trade with the EU post-Brexit if we wind up outside the SM/CU?

Because you loose the systems of the CU that make it so easy! It is easy to import into the customs union because

1) It is worthwhile to other countries to make specific agreements with the EU, because you make them once and they are valid for the EU28. Many countries have these deals with the EU.

2) As another poster mentioned, once goods are cleared for the EU they can shop to any EU country.

3) The common commodity code system means that once you have established what code your goods fall under you can send them to all 28 countries.

4) Outside of the CU we would have to have our own customs agreement with every country in the world. Develop our own systems, commodity codes, standards, IT etc.

5) Outside of the CU we would have to agree Tariffs with every country in the world rather than CCT

6) Outside of the CU our goods will have to clear customs into and out of the EU. Most UK goods currently ship to Calais which is not a customs port and has no facilities for this. I don't see the incentive for France to build them either.

7) Outside of the CU goods attract VAT when they clear customs. Whilst you can claim it back, there is a catastrophic cash-flow impact for importers.

8) None of this is agreed yet with 1 year to go!

9) UK has land border with Ireland that is totally open and must be so under the Good Friday Agreement (for those that don't know this is a fundamental treaty of the peace process in Northern Ireland), of which the USA and EU are co-guarantors. The Customs Union is what allows this to work. Without it you have to have customs because goods in Ireland are now free to move across the EU. The UK government has already agreed to keep 'regulatory alignment' (a customs union) with NI to allow this to happen in the November deal (which it seems to be pretending didn't happen right now). Under the agreement between the Conservative party and the DUP whatever agreements are made must cover the whole UK or they withdraw co-operation and the government falls.

Interesting how this plays out....I suspect we will have a CU with a different name as a fudge.

RE: Services I would be more concerned than goods. Professional qualifications are currently good for the whole of Europe. Chartered Accountant or Engineer you can practice in all 28 states. Not so after Brexit. If you are selling to consumers then you will have to abide by all of the the same standards and rules as the EU sets, but not get any say in them any more.

So yes it is much simpler to be in the Customs Union.


Fascinating, thanks. Looking at your detailed examples, it seems like there are a few recurring themes.

One theme seems to be that the CU is convenient for those importing to or via multiple EU countries, because you have the same rules to comply with wherever you bring the goods in and then once inside they can go anywhere else inside.

Another seems to be that a UK outside the CU would have to make its own arrangements with trading partners, including the EU at that point, and everyone would have to implement any necessary customs checks at borders, including the Irish border and ports of entry for UK goods into the EU.

Finally, there are a couple of separate issues, in terms of the VAT/cashflow issue and the timescales for figuring all of this out.

Is that a fair summary?


> were a couple of very highly qualified and experienced economists

Name them.


Not playing that game, sorry. Suffice it to say that they were post-doctoral researchers and subsequently worked for several years in major City companies you've heard of, both reaching senior positions unusually quickly.

[Edit: This was a private discussion at a mutual friend's house, on a controversial subject. I have no idea whether the people in question have expressed their views publicly, and no intention of outing them if they have not, particularly given that their personal views may be at odds with their employers'. In any case, they aren't public figures and it's unlikely anyone here would know them unless they happened to have worked with them. And even then, there is still no good reason anyone needs to know their names unless an ad hominem is about to follow. Downvote all you like, but downvoting isn't an argument.]


If you don't want to cite your sources, that's fine. However, without a proper citation there is no way to verify the credentials which you have claimed for them or the accuracy of your summary of their position. Your claims that they were "very highly qualified and experienced economists" and "post-doctoral researchers" who "subsequently worked for several years in major City companies you've heard of, both reaching senior positions unusually quickly" are at best an irrelevant distraction, and could be considered an attempt to lend unsubstantiated authority to your own position.


Please concentrate on the arguments. I deliberately mentioned only brief details about them originally precisely to avoid this sort of distraction, and I see no value in continuing down this path. If people want to assume that rather than simply relaying a brief personal anecdote that was relevant to the conversation I was instead making up a whole back story behind fictitious people just to make my own position look more authoritative, that's up to them but I doubt anything interesting or productive will come of it.


Can you outline the argument? I know there's a conventional (and strong) argument against the EU in that it combines the 'worst of both worlds' for many of its members, since they have a single currency but they don't have the kind of federal system that would balance that out. I don't see how that would effect the UK though - since it still has the pound. I also don't see how the UK could conceivably be said to be disadvantaged by the EU - given that financial services + co seem to depend upon EU membership.


I know there's a conventional (and strong) argument against the EU in that it combines the 'worst of both worlds' for many of its members, since they have a single currency but they don't have the kind of federal system that would balance that out.

Yes, that was essentially their position. The EU when it was smaller was mostly a group of member states in at least broadly equivalent economic situations. As it has grown, there are much wider disparities, and that undermines some of the original assumptions behind the Single Market.

For example, if there is an incentive to have cheap labour move from a relatively poor economy to a relatively wealthy one, you have potential for abuse on the relatively wealthy side, and you also have a risk of a "brain drain" effect that holds back growth in the poorer economy.

Likewise, trying to unify the markets across such widely different EU states is economically unsound. They aren't really one big market, because basic factors like cost of living and household income vary widely from one member state to another. Forcing businesses to treat all member states equally (which subsequent to that discussion the EU actually has been working to legislate) means you usually price the poorer member states out of the market, which is good for neither the potential customers in those states nor the businesses who would have been happy to supply them.

I also don't see how the UK could conceivably be said to be disadvantaged by the EU - given that financial services + co seem to depend upon EU membership.

The EU is mostly a good thing for trade with the EU. But by belonging to the EU, and in particular the Customs Union, the UK gives up the ability to negotiate its own trade agreements with non-EU trading partners. Instead, it is required to impose the EU's standard tariffs and other non-tariff barriers when trading outside the bloc, and the EU is rather protectionist in its stance there.

Put another way, just as EU membership brings well-documented advantages in terms of tariff-free trade and ease of access to the EU market, it also imposes directly analogous disadvantages in terms of forcing tariffs and other barriers when trading with non-EU markets, and the UK has limited ability to change that situation while remaining in the Customs Union because any relevant trade agreements are negotiated via the EU and not the UK itself.

The argument being made at the time was that since our foreign trade has been shifting steadily towards a greater proportion being with non-EU partners, the balance between the benefits on the EU side and the costs on the non-EU side was shifting in the wrong direction. (And if the EU did then suffer further economic troubles, that would reduce the benefits of continued membership significantly, pushing the balance further/faster in that other direction.)


I don't know if I agree that the EU is fundamentally unsound. Federal systems work. Germany is one example of this. The US is another. States are stronger together. The unsound bit is half-assing it.

I think the politics side is really where the UK will find the rub, though. The EU isn't going to be pleased with the UK for leaving. There's a great incentive on their side to make it turn out badly for the UK. Which means it's a little bit like if Mexico got on the USA's shitlist, just so they could get better trade deals with Brazil.


Speaking personally now, I'm in two minds about a lot of this.

It seems clear that the inability of different EU member states to operate their own fiscal policies while tied to the same currency has caused harm (albeit of very different kinds) in recent years to both Greece at one end of the scale and Germany at the other, and to a lesser extent to various other member states. If the EU was a fully federal system, with combined political/legislative leadership to go with the combined economic/currency ties, maybe that wouldn't have happened. However, I doubt we'll see that level of integration any time soon, because it brings too much other baggage. That being the case, while I don't have the knowledge or experience to judge the odds myself, I can see why some economists might be wary of the same effects that caused so much trouble a few years ago doing so again in the future.

As for the EU not being pleased about the UK leaving, that seems inevitable, but I'm hoping that cooler heads will prevail. Poisoning the well won't help either side, and clearly we're still going to be trading and collaborating in many other ways post-Brexit. We can dig in with red lines about this or that, but NI is still going to suffer economically just like Ireland if they mess the border arrangements up. They can make a fuss about blocking City financial services all they like, but it's their own big businesses using those services and they have no credible alternative based within the EU27, and those businesses weren't just spending all that money on those financial services out of charity.

For myself, it saddens me that the whole affair seems to be characterised more by divisive rhetoric and mistrust now than by a constructive, amicable approach. I take the view that if we're going to have Brexit then obviously the UK-EU relationship will change, but it's still in our mutual interests to collaborate in numerous ways, and I think there were also numerous ways that these negotiations could have gone better if most of the political leadership on both sides hadn't been weak and hostile from day one.


> They can make a fuss about blocking City financial services all they like, but it's their own big businesses using those services and they have no credible alternative based within the EU27, and those businesses weren't just spending all that money on those financial services out of charity.

I think this is extremely complacent. Financial services aren't an immovable object like a steel press or a coal mine, they're a bunch of people in an office. A lot of financial companies already have all sorts of European presences (either for tax reasons or through acquisitions), and they're already gearing up to move to Europe. E.g. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/01/11/payment-tran...

So much of the UK argument seems to be "once we're out of the EU, the rules that apply to countries that are not in the EU won't apply to us because we're special". This is not convincing.

The whole thing reminds me of Greece: "it would be a disaster for our country if the EU followed its pre-agreed rules, so they won't". This was not a convincing reason to bend the rules.


Financial services aren't an immovable object like a steel press or a coal mine, they're a bunch of people in an office.

This is the standard argument, but I don't think it's a very strong one.

You can't pick up and move a steel press, but you can build a new one in a new country. Assuming it's a welcome development, that is mostly just a matter of investment money and building time. Hiring local staff to run it is probably relatively straightforward.

Financial services, as you point out yourself, are all about the people. It's an industry built on experience and knowledge. Obviously today many of those people work in the City and live within range of the City. There is also an ecosystem built around the City to support that work.

As far as I can see, nowhere else within the EU currently has anywhere close to that level of capability and established supporting infrastructure. There are only two ways that is going to change: either large numbers of existing staff from the City or maybe other global financial hubs are convinced to relocate to other member states where the new facilities are being set up, or a new generation of staff is developed locally.

Clearly either of those is possible, as is some sort of hybrid. However, I find the most common argument -- that large numbers of City workers will just transplant their entire lives to a whole different country to keep a job -- unlikely. People talk about emigration to the EU a lot since Brexit became an issue, but the reality is that few people have actually done it while we're an EU member state and it is relatively easy, and it could become a much more significant and permanent change after Brexit. That leaves the alternative of building up a local workforce in some new location, but that also means building a new financial centre to challenge the City. At best that is going to take many years, during which presumably access to big finance across the EU27 would be significantly worse than today, and even then it would be a risky endeavour that might never provide the alternative that people were hoping for.

As I said elsewhere, I hope cooler heads will prevail. The alternative to this is that the EU and UK negotiators grow up and realise that continuing relations in this area is hugely in both parties' best interest. If some deal is reached on financial services then the UK financial sector doesn't take a significant hit, and EU27 businesses and governments can continue to rely on the financial services they need with relatively little change or risk. It's hard to see how any plausible alternative isn't much worse than this in the short and probably medium term.


> that large numbers of City workers will just transplant their entire lives to a whole different country to keep a job

A chunk of them already have moved country: https://news.efinancialcareers.com/uk-en/231364/percentage-o...

Not a majority, no, but it's inherently a very international business and the more money is at stake the more willing people will be to move.

It matters a great deal what the UK immigration regime will be after Brexit. The government has refused to give any clarity on this, and there are warning signs that the Home Office would very much like to start treating EU nationals as illegal immigrants. If no agreement is reached otherwise, it will be illegal for all those EU nationals to be employed, rent a house, or have a bank account.

I'm not saying it will be an overnight collapse, but more likely a slow melting away of new business and gradual movement of e.g. Euroclearing. In the short term it may be as simple as moving the flag which says where the company's HQ is and moving its taxpaying nexus inside the EU.

You're also underestimating the willingness of those financial businesses which are within the EU to be comfortable with UK competition.


It matters a great deal what the UK immigration regime will be after Brexit.

Agreed, and this is an area where the facts seem quite clear and I'm hoping that sanity will prevail by the time the dust settles. In fact, what I'm really hoping is that the whole Brexit mess will force the government to fix our immigration and visa system more generally. It's already insanely slow, complicated and unpredictable for those legitimately visiting or moving here more permanently from outside the EU, and that doesn't really help anyone.

For what it's worth, I have no idea where your characterisation of the desired future treatment of EU nationals as illegal immigrants come from, and I think your predictions here are unlikely to the point of being almost inconceivable. The government might have to pay lip service to immigration controls up to a point, but they've been doing that for years anyway. I can't believe even the current lot are foolish enough to undermine the NHS, the education system, the tech and creative sectors, and so on with the kind of draconian system you seem to be envisaging.

I'm not saying it will be an overnight collapse, but more likely a slow melting away of new business and gradual movement of e.g. Euroclearing.

Perhaps. That's certainly a possible outcome in the longer term. Presumably whatever happens in terms of Brexit, any transition, and then any final deal beyond that, the economies on both sides of the Channel are going to adapt in time.

In the short term it may be as simple as moving the flag which says where the company's HQ is and moving its taxpaying nexus inside the EU.

This I find less likely. Various EU governments, notably including the Germans (albeit under the previous administration), have made it very clear that they don't want to see that sort of "technical" movement. And it's going to be very hard for the financial services firms to play games if the national regulators in their new home state(s) want to cause problems for them.

*You're also underestimating the willingness of those financial businesses which are within the EU to be comfortable with UK competition.

Given the scale we're talking about here, I'm curious to know which financial businesses you classify as being "within the EU" at present.


I have a similar feeling. On the one hand, I feel like Brexit happened for all the wrong reasons. I don't remember england being a nationalistic nation when I grew up. I found it profoundly alienating to find myself in a country that had voted for Brexit, more or less, because they don't like immigrants.

On the other, what happened to Greece was appalling, and confirmed everybody's worst fears about the EU being an instrument of Capital in overrunning democratic norms.

I don't think it would be so terrible, in any case, if the EU blocked UK financial services (or if the financial services went under anyway, since I think being in the EU was part of the raison-d'etre). The imbalance of the english economy created by an overweight financial sector that employs basically no-one, and has antithetical legislative needs to all the other sectors, is a lot of what's wrong with the UK as a country. We used to make things. Now all we do is flip houses on the back of one bubble or another. The financial sector has created a weird double-country, with a super-rich capital, and basically impoverished provinces.

But this really comes back to what I see as the heart of English dysfunction - and it's English, since the Welsh and Scottish don't seem to share it. The politics are awful. Recruiting half your leadership from one elite boarding school just doesn't work. There's no way you can find enough smart, talented people that way. That's why everything the english state does is always so screwed up. And it's a problem that only gets worse as more power is concentrated in the financial sector.


> But this really comes back to what I see as the heart of English dysfunction - and it's English, since the Welsh and Scottish don't seem to share it. The politics are awful. Recruiting half your leadership from one elite boarding school just doesn't work

This is exactly it. To my mind it's the last retreat of the Empire, inwards and inwards. The idea of having a country operating on a fundamentally equitable basis is just not acceptable to these people. So the UK gets set up almost as a set of internal colonies run from Westminster.

> We used to make things.

We still do - with a lot fewer people. Manufacturing is still big economically, it's just a high-value-add industry that employs a smaller number of white collar workers and robots. It also has terrible press coverage because it's not in London, and the papers are unwilling to dispatch foreign correspondents to the Midlands to find it.


To my mind it's the last retreat of the Empire, inwards and inwards. The idea of having a country operating on a fundamentally equitable basis is just not acceptable to these people.

Our current political leadership do seem to have a very odd view of the world sometimes, possibly due to most of them (a) being rich and (b) never having worked a normal job outside the politics/media/finance bubble.

It's very frustrating that they seem to have gone into this whole business with such an adversarial stance, particularly when even now they don't really seem to have a clear, consistent vision for what they are trying to achieve. To be fair, several of the key figures on the EU side haven't been any better.


Both of your examples share the same language and culture. Europe is much more diverse and that’s a huge barrier to functional politics and democracy on the federation level.


The US is not very culturally homogeneous, at least not as far as I understand it.


That in turn requires distancing ourselves from the "ever closer union" vision and being free of the constraints that come with belonging to the EU's customs union.

Wasn't that exactly what Cameron negotiated before the referendum.


I don't think that was quite the same thing, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, just looking at the negotiated opt-out of the ever closer union principle, how legally binding those negotiations were was never resolved. There appeared to be some doubt about whether they would get past the European Parliament, and the Brexit referendum happened before any definitive position could be established.

Secondly, even if they were binding in theory, how would that have worked in practice? For example, 26 out of 28 EU member states are either in the Eurozone already or in principle required to join in the future. Is it really credible that so many member states would always remain honest and neutral on any policy that might disadvantage the Eurozone just to be fair to those with opt-outs (the UK and Denmark)? Similar arguments apply in other respects, the Schengen Area being maybe the next most obvious case.

Thirdly, that issue was distinct from membership of other EU-based mechanisms such as the Single Market and the Customs Union. The latter in particular seemed to be a big concern for the people I mentioned, not just because it precludes negotiating future trade agreements independently as widely discussed in Brexit-related forums, but also simply because while it makes trade within the EU nice and easy, it also makes trade with partners outside the EU a lot harder, because all members are required to impose the EU's standard barriers and tariffs on external trade.

Obviously whether or not you think ever closer union within the EU is a good thing is a personal/political view and reasonable people can reach different conclusions, but if you had thought it through and concluded that it wasn't, I don't think Cameron's negotiations would have done much to affect your logic or your final decision on that point.


It seems extremely unlikely all 26 of the 28 are going to join the Euro, most of them are dragging their feet over it and I wouldn't be surprised to see some (Italy?) even drop out.

I always thought that talk of ever closer union was scaremongering just like the threat of an invasion of people from Turkey. Possible in theory but the reality is somewhat different.

Trade outside of the EU isn't impossible, Germany sells three times as much to China as we do. If we were really worried about that we would have done something about it years ago. The reality is even in the modern globalised world most of your external trade is going to be with near neighbours.

Personally I think closer union is a good thing in principle but the fly in the ointment is our lack of fiscal discipline. If we had been in the Euro we would probably have suffered as much as Greece has. Even if the vote had gone for remain there was almost zero possibility of us joining the Euro.

This isn't to say the EU is perfect, there is plenty of room for improvement, I just think on balance we were better in than out and there are severe risks if the whole thing collapses.


'qualified and experienced economists' Name them!


Yeah, that's a fair point. Perhaps I'm a little too caught up in recent events and not seeing the forest for the trees.


From the big picture perspective brexit might just be a fluke...

The Euro sort of makes EU a pretty permanent thing. Sure it could change (probably very slowly), but isn't that what democracy is about :)


"I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. 'That’s easy,' he replied. 'When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.'"


“There is much fake news published about me, but let me make clear that I have never uttered those words.”


The European Parliament is just as accountable as any other. There’s an election next year. Go vote.


The European Parliament is just as accountable as any other.

That's the theory, but it's really not true at all in practice.

For one thing, UK MPs are directly elected. If they don't represent their constituents satisfactorily, the constituents can vote them out, personally, next time. In contrast, UK MEPs are elected via a party list system. If they don't represent their constituents satisfactorily, the only way to get rid of the top person on a party's list is for that party not to get enough votes for even a single representative in that region. The personal accountability is lost under this system.

For another thing, UK MPs do tend to communicate meaningfully with their constituents. I have written to my MP on occasion and invariably received at least a sensible reply (and this has been true for several different MPs, not all in the same party). I have visited my MP in person at their surgery and had a face-to-face discussion where I could see they were understanding the issue I was raising. In striking contrast, on the occasions when I have written to my MEPs, I have not received so much as a courtesy acknowledgement from around half, and usually only one or two have replied with any real substance. I have literally never heard (unsolicted) from any MEP representing me other than at election time, I am not aware of any means to meet them face-to-face to discuss an issue, and most of the time I don't even know their names or which parties they represent.

Whatever the pros and cons of the EU in general, the democratic deficit is a legitimate and well-founded criticism.


And what about the democratic deficit of first past the post? 2/3 of the population in this country vote in safe seats so their vote doesn't matter. Time and time again we've seen the country as a whole vote for one thing yet end up with a majority for something else.

Personally I think it's more democratic for the government to reflect the will of the people than a local representative to represent the largest minority in an area.


And what about the democratic deficit of first past the post?

Clearly FPTP is a failure as far as fair representation is concerned. That's not even a subject for intelligent debate, just a mathematical fact. However, it's a different instance of democratic deficit, not the one that people were voting on in this particular case.


Vote for what?

EU Parliament doesn't make policy. Therefore the parties have no manifestos worth a damn. You can't "vote for the other guys" if you care about copyright because none of them have any real influence over the Commission which is where all the power truly lies.


Your information is about 12 years out of date. The EU Parliament gets to amend and approve all legislation.

If copyright is your main concern, you should look at the Green Party. Julia Reda, linked in this article, is a tireless advocate against copyright overreach.


The parliament gets to amend (and extremely rarely reject), but doesn’t make the policy - only the Comission does. That’s very unlike the traditional (“real”) democracy where the parliament is fully in charge of creating laws. The principle of separation of powers is important, even crucial, for democracy. In EU, executive branch blends with the legislative.


> The principle of separation of powers is important, even crucial, for democracy.

No, it's not. It's not even a feature of a number of Western representative democracies. (The UK has notably begun in recent years making some steps in the direction of a separation of powers system, but has long been described as having a fusion of powers system.)

In theory, separation of powers puts a brake (but not an absolute barrier) on attempts to convert what is nominally a representative democracy to an autocracy by way of a self-coup by the unitary elected leadership, but it does so directly by making democratic accountability more complex for electors.


[flagged]


> Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Governments can subvert democracy without an EU.

Step 1: Make election promise

Step 2: Fail to deliver.

With regard to accountability, the process goes something like:

Step 1: implement unpopular policy

Step 2: lose next election. Don’t go to jail, or otherwise be held accountable. Receive fat government pension.

Step 3: new government doesn’t undo unpopular policy implementation, but blames former government anyway.


It'd be ironic if UK was a singular hivemind, but it isn't.


It’s important to speak up like you did. Europe has been used to torn local laws despite the citizens’ will on topics that are not universal (as opposed to universal values like corruption or the the voting system). Examples nowadays are topics that should be left to the people to determine, like abortion (Poland) and immigration (the 4 slavic countries). EU’s constant and reiterated push to disobey people’s will is costing us UK, Italy, Poland, the 4 slavs, Austria, and it’s only a matter of luck that France’s Le Pen failed her debate in an epic way.


The EU is not pushing on abortion, as Ireland will point out.


Remember, the UK government didn't want to leave the EU - they were caught out by their own ill-advised referendum stunt. So it's not so much ironic that the UK wants to leave as it is a consequence of the EU's problems, including policy laundering which benefits politicians at the expense of democratic accountability.


It's interesting to note though that the members of the commission have officially sworn to represent the interest of the EU rather than their home state.

There's also been some recent controversy about Juncker's method of assigning one of his close allies as secretary-general of the commission.


It is not ironic because the UK government did not want to leave the EU. A majority of UK citizens who voted in the referendum want that.


I'm sure there's no corruption going on here. http://www.euronews.com/2017/06/28/why-won-t-brussels-releas...


Stuff like that is one of the reasons we're now in Brexit mode in the UK... I blame both sides for whatever is to come.


Because there has never been any corruption in UK politics?


Did I ever say that? Of course we have corruption in the UK. Like in any country in the wold.

What I said, and I said it as a staunch remainer, is that the EU has done nothing on their side to prevent the catastrophe we're facing now. They are to blame as much as people like Mr. Farage. They could have prevented this when Cameron went to them before the referendum to adjust the UK membership deal. All I said is that everyone is to blame for this.


Cameron actually got almost all of what he asked for in the membership deal. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35622105

As far as I can tell this was irrelevant to the result, and decades of fact-free Euroskepticism in the press won the day. Cameron also learned completely the wrong lessons from the Scottish Indyref.


Except they adjusted UK's membership. Then Cameron returned to the UK and won a referendum which he was supposed to lost.


Lobbying is not synonymous with corruption. And the EU, due to its origins as most powerful regulatory actor for Europe is heavily lobbied, no question. And the Commission even more, since it has the power of agenda setting. This is not always a bad thing, you need the industry as source of technical knowledge. I would say that most things we perceive as stupid are more or less proposals where the lobbying is unbalanced and one actor has to much influence. In this case the copyright defending industry. It is now up to the European Parliament to scrutinize this...


Maybe not corruption, but i would say that lobbying is legalized bribing. We can discuss if its good or bad, but i do not believe that its healthy for us the people as it pushes leaders to follow corporate policies instead of public policies.


There is no bribery. No money changes hands. Not even “campaign donations”, which is the US term for bribery.

Maybe it’s unfair that industry is better able to organize and make their case. But it’s not corruption, and not bribery.

Plenty of consumer-advocacy groups are also active in lobbying. Hell, this article by github is lobbying as well.


Going back a bit, perhaps like the huge political encouragement to go Diesel, which - by amazing coincidence - suited the sunk research costs of the hard-lobbying French and German car manufacturers?

A pretty serious outcome for public health, but at least no money overtly changed hands.


Lobbying makes sense, in theory. If Company X would create 10 new factories if tax regulation Y were changed, local politicians should be aware of that. The big increase in jobs would almost definitely be beneficial to their constituents, provided the tax changes are not disproportionately detrimental.

I'm not saying that's how 90% of lobbying works in politics today, but the practise does have a place.


> Lobbying is not synonymous with corruption.

I don't understand how this statement is in any way true? Corruption is generally considered illegal and lobbying is not; the dictionary definition of corruption doesn't require it to be illicit though, so by that definition it would include lobbying.

> you need the industry as source of technical knowledge

There is a world of difference between seeking out/commissioning technical input from industry on a subject and the industry spending significant sums of money on actively trying to bring their claimed technical knowledge to you unsolicited.


And the dictionary definition of lobbying is "to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation" (Webster). If I send an email to my MEP to ask them to block the proposed filtering requirement, I'm engaged in lobbying. In fact, this GitHub blog post is a form of lobbying, since it explicitly asks readers to contact EU policymakers. How is that corruption? It isn't - lobbying is free speech and an essential part of the democratic process.


> lobbying is free speech and an essential part of the democratic process.

It is, but then by your own argument it isn't a way to gauge industry expertise. Because anyone can lobby (so expertise isn't a factor -- and the politician isn't in a position to assess the expertise of a particular lobbyist), and those with more time and money can lobby more than anyone else. This is part of what makes it a problem, and makes people connect it with corruption -- because the only people who can effectively engage in corruption are the same people who can effectively engage in lobbying (those with large troves of cash).


It would be if it was public, but most of it isnheld behind closed doors.


The Commission tends to work with the EU Parliament and the EU Council (nation leaders) when drafting laws, too. So I wouldn't ignore this just thinking the EU Parliament will definitely reject it. The EU Parliament will reject it if enough people call their MEPs.


Ah, that's interesting. I lived in Europe briefly, pre-Lisbon, and Europarl then was kind of a powerless institution. But reading this comment sent me to check out the Wikipedia page, and I can see that things have changed:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament


Since 2014, where Martin Schulz and Jean-Claude Juncker as leaders od the largest factions in the parliament basically staged a coup, the parliament now also has the power to elect the commission, instead of, as previously, just having veto power over the commission the council chooses.

In 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker and his party had won parliament elections, and believed they had a reasonable reason to demand control of the committee, as would happen in a parliamentary democracy. The parliament threatened to veto every committee candidate and policy proposal unless the council would nominate the candidate that had "won" the elections. As a result, that happened, Juncker became committee president, and these new rules got later codified.

It took a lot of unconventional methods for the parliament and court to get the power they have today from the council, which used to hold it before.


Fascinating! Thanks. That was largely ignored in US media, as far as I know. But then again, the average American knows next to nothing about the EU.


> Uninformed? Corruption, uhm I mean lobbying?

Just a quick note, the intention of lobbying is to help politicians - people with the power but not the knowledge - make informed decisions by getting industry experts to advise them.

The problems exist because those industry experts are almost always going to be working in the industry (that's why they're experts). Accordingly, those advisors are always going to want what's best for them, and will be sure to tailor their advice accordingly. And if it's even remotely legal to "enhance" advice with money, of course it will be done.


> Just a quick note, the intention of lobbying is to help politicians [...] make informed decisions by getting industry experts to advise them.

I don't think you're referring to lobbying. What you're talking about sounds more like expert panels or independent investigations that produce reports, which are then used to inform politicians.

Lobbying is effectively where someone works to convince a politician (or group of politicians) that a particular point of view is in the best interests of their constituents (regardless of the truth of such a claim) -- and the success rate is generally proportional to how much money the lobbyist spends. There is no peer review or qualifications required for lobbying, it just takes money. So even if it's true that the intention of lobbying was to get "industry experts to advise politicians", it would be a horrible way of doing it because industry experts aren't the only people with money.


>>>

The practice of lobbying provides a forum for the resolution of conflicts among often diverse and competing points of view; provides information, analysis, and opinion to legislators and government leaders to allow for informed and balanced decision making; and creates a system of checks and balances that allows for competition among interest groups, keeping any one group from attaining a permanent position of power. Lobbyists can help the legislative process work more effectively by providing lawmakers with reliable data and accurate assessments of a bill's effect.

<<<

An excerpt from the legal definition of lobbying. My own take is a bit lacking on the "resolution of conflicts" portion, but still in line with the intended outcome - informing politicians on matters they wouldn't otherwise understand. That said, its definitely not as pristine an occupation as we would hope, with all the people involved in it.

Another take on the topic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying_in_the_United_States#...

It's worth noting that lobbiests can and do also work at levels incapable of affording expert panels or independent investigations, such as the city and state levels.


> The practice of lobbying provides a forum [...]

I agree with this definition (though it does omit the glaring problems with "providing a forum" which requires you to pay into). The problem is that this is not what you originally said:

> the intention of lobbying is to help politicians [...] make informed decisions by getting industry experts to advise them.

Lobbying is about getting different interest groups to put forward their point of view (that's what the definition you quoted effectively says), regardless of their level of expertise or credibility when it comes to the topic under discussion. This is completely antithetical to providing expertise to someone in power (which is what you were implying is the intention of lobbying).

You could argue that requiring expertise or credibility would result in a technocracy, and that allowing ordinary people (who don't necessarily have education or expertise in a topic) to lobby is more equal. And in theory it would be more equal. But lobbying costs time and money, which are things that ordinary people don't have in abundance. So the system is already favouring groups of people that have bigger bags of money -- so surely favouring people that have bigger stacks of research would be a better solution overall.


And what Github is asking developers to do here fits that definition too. When they ask developers to contact the government and explain why this proposal is a bad idea, they are asking them to lobby the government.


The parliament has a history of extremely rarely rejecting proposals - the patents one is ancient history. But normally, it’s just not done - tweaked, yes, outright rejected almost never.


Hearing about stuff like this, it's easy to imagine a future in which the 'bootstrapped' internet startup is simply no longer possible due to the costs of complying with various governments' regulations.


Give any technology time to sit long enough weeds in the form of lawyers and regulators will grow over it and snuff it out. Rarely is society left with an efficient technology after government is done with it.

Unfortunately most of my peers call for more and more regulation of business and all technology. More regulation is always good in their eyes.

I've explained how regulation should be viewed as a constant push and pull, as society needs to be willing to repeal a regulation if it's not logical or relevant.

Unfortunately the word repeal and regulation in the same sentence is dirty and I get looks for even mentioning how large unnecessary barriers to entry via regulation isn't always a good thing.

In some ways this is why I support crypto currencies. Not for the scams and pump and dumps of today, but rather the building of a decentralized internet that may survive the lawyers and usher in a new era of freedom and creativity. Of course we are still about 5 years from having a GitHub or a search engine on top of crypto currency at the current rate of development. Unfortunately the bubble craze attracted a lot of unsavoury characters that is currently doing this space a lot of harm. Thankfully the lawyers can't shut Bitcoin down so we're safe for now.


Wait there's many examples of regulation overtly benefitting society and protecting its citizens from the harm of greedy corporations. Environmental protections, safety protections, financial/solvency protections, health/drug protections, etc... Surely, it's not "regulation" that's the enemy.

What's stopping bad actors from foregoing these protections in an unregulated/decentralized world? The perfect example of this is what's going on with frivolous ICOs and crypto exchange "breaches" where consumers are losing because their ordinary consumer protections are not being enforced.


We need to balance consumer protection with chilling effects on innovation. If regulators had applied strict interpretations of securities law to cryptoassets and exchanges, only accredited investors would have been allowed to invest and only big banks could have afforded to comply with exchange regulations.


I don't think it's that so much as it is a way to get rid of "nuisances" like the Rapidshares and Megauploads and the PopcornTimes of the EU. They may not inherently be doing anything wrong, but they're a problem for somebody powerful, so let's make sure we can find a reason to shut them down.

If it's anything like USC 2257 or obscenity law, it's a wildcard law to be played when there's no other dirt on somebody. The implementation is left intentionally vague. They won't provide you a national registry to check against, nor will they license you government software that fulfills these goals to legal specifications. It's a law they put on the books with no clear path to compliance.

So you're left to your own devices to implement something that may or may not do the job ("we checked hashes against a blacklist!")-- which you can arbitrarily be found in violation of by the courts at some later point ("...but you didn't do enough to check for derived or modified works!"), since there is no precedent for the extent to which one is expected to comply.

Nobody will be prosecuted for this until there's a high-profile site that needs a takedown.


My cynical side thinks that this is the goal of such legislation - an "unintended consequence" that really is intentional.


You can call it being cynical, but honestly it is just applying the past actions to a "new" medium. People have already created laws, regulations, and other utilities to regulate free speech in various forms (books, newspapers, magazines, film, VHS, DVD, etc).

History shows us there are many people that either do not understand or believe in free speech.


If I'm being blunt, its our own fault.

We encourage people to upload and share content they don't own under the guise of "information wants to be free".

We encourage the transformation of employees into contractors and operate in locations where the business is explicitly against the law, because "disrupt all the things".

We work behind the scenes with our competitors to suppress worker wages, fix prices, and avoid taxes, because profit is more important than anything else.

We do ICOs with imaginary money or IPOs with only private shares to get around the SEC and little nuisances like public disclosure.

WTF did we expect to have happen? The government is a slow elephant to SV's sleek mouse, but when we don't run fast enough we're going to be completely flattened. This isn't new behavior on the part of the government - it's not like we can claim ignorance.


You shouldn't blame deluge of new laws on the users. It's kinda like victim blaming as though they made the laws themselves. Instead of asking "what caused governments to make new regulations" instead ask "what caused governments to use regulations instead of alternatives (including doing nothing)". You point out problems, but that's not fair to say that they caused the specific solutions more than the solution presenters themselves.


I'm not blaming the users, I'm blaming the entrepreneurs. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

> what caused governments to use regulations instead of alternatives (including doing nothing)

It's the same as it always has been - why are any rules made up? Because someone cheats. Why do rulebooks get bigger and bigger and not smaller and smaller? Because someone sees the rule "do not steal", and threatens the victim into "giving" him the stuff, cause "it's not stealing if he gives it to me, right?" Now you need rules about coercion.

More directly, people flouting the spirit of the law is the cause of this legislation. People ignoring the verbal and written warnings put out there by governments to play nice.

Ultimately, the government has two forces of authority. The law (regulation) and force (police, army, etc). The first is empowered by the second. If the warning signs leading up to regulation are ignored, what else can we expect the government to do?


On the internet, I consider entrepreneurs users as well. Just because the rulebooks do grow doesn't mean they should. That the law is ignored should be a reason for enforcement, not law creation. As law counts grow and percentage of enforcement seemingly declines you should expect users to ignore them. I expect governments to give warnings about enforcement, not just creating laws as though all other solutions have been tried. It should be the absolute last resort, but so many of these are perceived problems not really harming anyone.


> We encourage people to upload and share content they don't own under the guise of "information wants to be free".

I would say it's the opposite problem:

We pretend that publicly accessible information can be owned.


We've been "pretending" that since well before any of us were alive. This is not something new or novel.

Hell, we've been "pretending" it long enough that the concept of ownership of ideas is included in the US constitution.

Know what else we "pretend"? That someone bigger than you can't just come along and take your lunch. We as a society agree to "pretend" that the lunch is yours, and that someone who does take it from you should be punished.

I think we're well past the point where we're "pretending".


I don't understand your argument. Just because we've been doing things ass-backwards for a long time, means we should just keep doing it, and trying to patch reality to adjust?

> That someone bigger than you can't just come along and take your lunch.

No we don't, and I don't think we ever have. In fact, we openly admit that someone can come and take your lunch. What we do is say that, while someone can come and take your lunch, that person also has an incentive to avoid punishment.


> Just because we've been doing things ass-backwards for a long time, means we should just keep doing it, and trying to patch reality to adjust?

Or perhaps not everybody agrees with you on the point that all information wants to be free. I, for example, don't agree. I'm quite happy that you can't legally take a photo I create and use it for your own gain.

As to the other point, replace 'can't' with 'shouldn't'. Sorry.


Way to twist what “information wants to be free” means. Since when is copyrighted entertainment “information”? The phrase is obviously about real information, which is an innate fact about the universe which can’t be copyrighted. Like 09F9 et al


The sequence of letters which make up a certain book is "an innate fact about the universe". A detailed description of a picture (or sequence of pictures, i.e. a video), or an audio waveform, is no different. Information remains information even if the subject is copyrighted. Copyright enforcement in practice consists almost entirely in controlling the distribution of factual information about copyrighted works.


The sequence of letters which makes up the book is an innate fact about itself. Although we’re in philosophy territory now and that usually goes nowhere.


What content detection systems would the law require to be used anyway? If I run a little unmonetized web forum or video sharing site, is the EU going to provide me with the software I'm supposed to be using for content detection?


Those founders will find a way. Maybe by asking for investments sooner and then going live.


I'm not sure that would qualify as 'bootstrapped'.


The other issue not discussed here is that Google and the rest will be required to remove offending content within an hour.

Notwithstanding the rest of the discussions, this will only create more jobs. I realize Google may not like the hit to the profit line, bit it's a bit disingenuous to ask only the developers to sharpen the axes and fight the Google's war while not informing them of the rest of the legislation: "Illegal content means any information which is not in compliance with Union law or the law of a Member State, such as content inciting people to terrorism, racist or xenophobic, illegal hate speech, child sexual exploitation, illegal commercial practices, breaches of intellectual property rights and product safety. What is illegal offline is also illegal online."

I guess I object the delivery. Tell us everything, and then ask us for support. This way they are just spinning it to fit their agenda in a way that keeps us less informed: "they are after your GitHub". Classical FUD

Edit: Here is a much better overview http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/dae/document.cfm?doc_id=50096


It will create more jobs at tech giants who are sitting on giant piles of money and can afford to hire people for this. What will it do to 1-person bootstrapped startups with user created content? Try to get any work done, but have to take constant interruptions to review all content?

Imagine trying to create Digg or reddit or twitter with this law on the books.


Single person startups competing with tech giants for user content usually don't make it precisely because they compete with them.

I don't have to imagine. I already have two failed products behind me precisely because the tech giants exist and are big enough to not play by the rules.

Coming from where I've been through, I actually see this law proposal opening the playfield for smaller entities.


> Coming from where I've been through, I actually see this law proposal opening the playfield for smaller entities.

How, when it imposes additional costs upon said entities?


if that becomes the law, whoever wants to profit from user content can accomodate that particular piece better. The big ones will be stuck trying to accomodate the entire laws on massive databases for all use cases.


> "Illegal content means any information which is not in compliance with Union law or the law of a Member State [...]"

The "law of a Member State" part is very concerning. If it's enough that content is illegal in one member state to have it taken down in the whole EU, very tough times lying ahead.

The first two things which came to my mind were the new Polish holocaust law and the current prosecution of various symbols of Kurdish groups (e.g. flags of YPG) in Germany.

Say goodbye to free speech.


> The "law of a Member State" part is very concerning.

Interestingly, this mistake would dramatically increase the market power of the US and its tech giants. The US market would continue to produce endless numbers of wildly profitable, very large tech companies. They'd continue to start out by easily capturing the US + Canada + various global markets, and then they'd better be able to piece by piece target markets in Europe with whatever customized product changes were necessary. A company starting from a small to mid size market in the EU simply can't perform like that, they don't have the financial resources to meet all the demands of each member state. Facebook can trivially do it.

This would be a huge gift to US tech.


"Illegal content means any information which is not in compliance with Union law or the law of a Member State, such as content inciting people to terrorism, racist or xenophobic, illegal hate speech, child sexual exploitation, illegal commercial practices, breaches of intellectual property rights and product safety. What is illegal offline is also illegal online."

In Spain, recently twelve young adults got two years of jail time for "hate speech" lyrics in a rap song. It's a country that didn't yet resolve its fascist past. Not only that, but the post fraquist party (PP) does have a branch at EU level (EPP), and that's where many of those silly proposals originate from.


Think of all the jobs that could be created by rounding up and burning all books!



We can create even more jobs by banning construction equipment and computers!



too bad Google quickly offshores all profits and pays zero taxes


Google commonly pays around 15% to 17% for its overall corporate income tax rate.

By comparison, the statutory rate for Norway is 23%, Sweden is 22%, Denmark is 22%, Portugal is 21%, Slovakia is 21%, Finland is 20%, Estonia is 20%, Iceland is 20%, Russia is 20%, Czech is 19%, the UK is 19%, Poland is 19%, Switzerland is 18%, Ukraine is 18%, Romania is 16%, Serbia is 15%, Lithuania is 15%, Ireland is 12.5%, Moldova is 12%, Macedonia is 10%, Hungary is 9%.

I'll emphasize again, those are just the statutory rates.

Google is obviously aggressive in their tax avoidance, however they're not in fact paying low rates compared to what can be managed in more than a dozen European nations.


But who do they pay those taxes to? From the perspective of an Australian (for instance), Google pays 0% Australian tax (even though they profit from my country) because they have sufficiently clever accountants. It is less important to me that they pay 15% globally (though that is still a ridiculously small number -- most people have to pay at least 30% tax in Australia) than it is that they pay 0% tax to many countries they do business in. I still have to pay GST when I pay for Google's services -- why do I have to pay my Australian taxes when I transact with them but they don't have to pay their Australian taxes for that transaction?

> however they're not in fact paying low rates compared to what can be managed in more than a dozen European nations.

But they run businesses in significantly more countries outside of the ones you've listed. The fact that you could only find a handful of countries (several of which have very questionable governments) where 15% tax for a multi-billion dollar company sounds normal is pretty telling.


> Google pays 0% Australian tax (even though they profit from my country)

They don’t “profit from your country” - they have users who live in your country. Maybe it makes sense for those users to pay up to the government, but it’s crazy to say that you should have to pay taxes to a foreign government just because someone under that government uses your website.

In the long run, if this rhetoric you’re advocating is successful (that if you touch anything somehow related to a government over the internet then you owe them a cut and have to follow their local rules), you can say goodbye to the open, global internet. Companies will IP-restrict (or if that doesn’t convince the lawyers, government ID restrict) every single website.


> They don’t “profit from your country” - they have users who live in your country.

Which they make money from -- in fact quite a few companies make more money from a given Australian than other markets[1] meaning that they are profiting more off Australians (even for online services -- like Adobe that charged AU$1400 more for their software in Australia).

If a company wishes to sell books in Australia, they have to pay Australian taxes. But if you sell online services, all of a sudden everyone starts talking about the destruction of a free and open internet. If a company selling a service is willing and has the ability to "destroy the free and open internet" through IP blocks if they are asked to pay taxes for the money they make off foreign markets, then ask yourself -- how free is the internet in the first place if that is all it takes to destroy it?

You don't pay taxes if you don't make money. I don't understand what you're trying to argue against here.

> but it’s crazy to say that you should have to pay taxes to a foreign government just because someone under that government uses your website.

It's not about usage, it's about profit. If you're making a profit by providing services to people in a foreign market, you have now made money in a way where society requires that you pay taxes on your profit. Most countries have bilateral tax agreements to avoid double taxation, so if a company pays tax in $countryA they only have to pay the excess in $countryB. Those agreements exist explicitly to facilitate the ability to do business overseas.

Not to mention that many of these companies are incorporated in foreign countries as well, which means that they aren't even foreign entities at that point. They're just ordinary Australian companies that don't pay tax.

> In the long run, if this rhetoric you’re advocating is successful (that if you touch anything somehow related to a government over the internet then you owe them a cut and have to follow their local rules), you can say goodbye to the open, global internet.

I hate to break it to you, but you already have to follow the law of countries that you do business with. If you host certain kinds of hate speech, you are not permitted to provide access to said hate speech in Germany (even if legal in your country). If you host certain kinds of pornography, you are not permitted to provide access to said pornography in other countries (even if legal in your country). And so on. Will you be extradited for breaking those laws? Maybe not, but that doesn't make it any less illegal.

I understand the whole "anti-regulation" view that some US folks have (and I agree that many laws regarding the internet are very troubling), but pretending as though companies should be allowed to make money in a foreign market without paying tax just because their company happens to involve the internet is pretty odd to me.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Tax


You can't just link a random analogy without any provided mapping.

That analogy is not applicable. Google's profit taking is not the overall global nation state profit taking. It's just one company.

Whereas currently the money velocity is lower because it sits on Google's books, employing people will increase only increase it overall, and more in the case of people living in EU.


Perhaps if a government wants to police illegal content they should have, say, the police or a court do it instead of an algorithm or an offshore cubicle farm. If "what is illegal offline is also illegal online" shouldn't the mechanisms be the same, too?


Are these the same jobs that have a history of inciting PTSD-like symptoms in minimum wage employees, jobs that the tech giants limit to 4 hours a day?

I'm not sure I can agree that this is a positive thing.


[flagged]


You can't claim that something is "censored" or "not being covered by the press" by linking to an article in a national newspaper.


I never said it wasn’t being covered by the press. But as an individual, if you were to suggest that these things are happening as a result of immigration policy, you’d run the risk of being charged with a hate crime.


If you are in the EU, do follow the advise and contact your MEP. The EU parliament is surprisingly accessible and open to criticism, especially if it is respectful and well-argued.

(It’s probably a result of constantly having their legitimacy questioned and and vile insults having hurled at them)


And they will do what, exactly?

The EU Parliament has no real power. It can only say yes to things or delay them. As a consequence the only people who run for seats in it are either fanatically pro-EU or anti-EU, but none of them are going to have any real interest in copyright. They can say no and send it back and the Commission - if it wants this - will just send it back for re-approval again, or bypass them entirely.


The EU Parliament gets to edit all legislation. There are often thousands of amendments offered, debated, voted on, and approved or rejected.

Here is an example with 500 proposed amendments to draft legislation on cybersecurity: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/amendments.html?...

Click on the pdf icons to read the actual texts.

Please don’t spread falsehoods.


I think your post is also misleading. Under co-decision, the EP only gets to /propose/ amendments, not to approve them. The council are able to reject parliament amendments and get the law passed anyway. And of course, there are other procedures than co-decision for creating primary legislation which give the EP even less power.

While the grandparent wasn't 100% technically correct I think the broad view (that "The EU Parliament has no real power") is effectively correct. The lion's share of the power of the EU still rests in the Commission and the Council. By all means, write to your MEPs, but don't get too hopeful


> The council are able to reject parliament amendments and get the law passed anyway.

This is false. In most policy areas, if the council disagrees with the parliament's amendments, the proposal goes through a conciliation process. If the council and parliament don't reach agreement there, then the proposal is rejected. Thus, parliament has the power to reject almost all legislation. I wouldn't call that powerless.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_legislative_pro...


Yes, there is further process I didn't mention. No, it doesn't fundamentally change the situation.


I have come to think that the EU would work much better if the Council and the Commission got dissolved at once, were replaced by and actual "Government of the EU zone" and all the legislative power went to the EU Parliament.


The parliament did for example stop software patents. Yeah, one day there might be another proposal, but for now we don't have them enforced because of the EU parliament.


It did not. The EU issues software patents anyway.


OK, they stopped the directive to make patenting them generally easier in europe. There are still ways to patent software, usually by saying it's part of a hardware device.


The parliament has a history of rejecting stupid proposals like software patents. Please take your rhetoric elsewhere.


"Your private repository has been removed because you received 3 take down notices from copyright holders who own'foo = bar'."


"Your private repository has been removed because you received 475 take down notices from copyright holders who own '// fucking timezones, right?"


Your repository has been made public, with code inserted to serve ads to users. Please note that the revenue for the ads will be sent to the copyright holders, and your access to the repo has been revoked. Also note that this is our final communication on this matter.


Your private repositories have been locked unless you pay money. You cannot set the private repo to public, you must pay.

Except GitHub actually tried to do that to me for real, and failed. Luckily, they unlocked the repos while trying to charge me (no billing details on my account, so... nice try?) and I was able to snag my code back without being extorted for money. At no time was I given the option to opt-out of private repos. My only other option had they not screwed up was to pay.


Out of curiosity, how did this happen? Were you on a trial / student plan that expired?


I would gladly contribute to software which filter laws submitted to the parliament.


If only common sense could be made into a filter.


This certainly seems like a legislative overreach and worth watching if it progresses. But not really clear to me why code should be a specific exception?

I’m a little disappointed in Github for trying to carve out a specific exemption just for their area of business rather than fighting the proposal as a whole.


There is a simple solution. Just block the access from the EU. Let them suffer for the consequence of stupid law.


Why would you block access from the EU if your site is hosted elsewhere?

If you think complying with foreign regulations is not worth it, or if you're not even aware of it, it's not up to you to block anything. Why would it be? If they care they would make providers block your site.


Because if you break a law that applies there you might not be able to travel there or you will be jailed when you do. This applies to other regions/countries too. We can argue practicalities of course, but why risk it based on subjectivity of enforcement?

Also, blocking sends a message to the users in more ways than one.


And give up all EU-based revenue too?


In 2014 eu news publishers tried to use recent eu copyright laws to get google to pay for snippets used in their news and search products. Google said that publishers can opt in to having their snippets shown for free, and the publishers refused. About two weeks later they voluntarily opted in. [1]

So I'm curious to see what would happen if many tech companies refused service to europe. I believe twitter was seeing around 6,000 tweets per second, a few years back. 6,000 * 60 * 60 * 24 * 365 = ~189.2 billion tweets per year. Say 1 minute to analyze them, you would need 3.15 billion man hours. 8 hours a day * 40 hours a week, * 50 weeks per year = 16,000 hours per employee, per year. So thats 197,100 employees, not counting management. The last time I checked, they had 3,600 employees, and lost about $.5 billion per year. Automated analysis works, but not perfectly. What happens when you AI filter misses something? So refusing service might have to be an option?

[1] "The law went into effect last August and, while some details still need to be ironed out in court, the controversial heart of it — whether search engines will pay money to publishers — has an uncertain future. Google has refused to pay fees to publish snippets from news sites, and instead asked German publishers last year to opt in if they want to be included in Google News search results, waiving their right to cash in on the use of their content according to the new law. To avoid paying the collection agency, VG Media, which represents the publishers that chose not to opt in, Google stopped showing snippets from their news articles on Oct. 23. Shortly after that, the publishers in VG Media gave Google a license to restore snippets to their search results — for free. Berlin-based Axel Springer, one of Europe’s largest publishers, announced on Nov. 5 that it had caved to Google’s pressure after traffic to its websites from Google dropped by 40 percent and from Google News by 80 percent when snippets were left out of search results."

http://www.niemanlab.org/2014/12/the-fight-to-get-google-to-...


GitHub has had no problems implementing censorship on their platform if it’s using their own values (see: WebM for Retards), so why should we care if they are now forced to censor using an external parties values?

I was concerned when GitHub started censoring repositories that didn’t meet their code of conduct, but was told it was for the greater good. Now the issue is coming back to bite them it seems.


Every company, every person is entitled to decide what content they are willing to support. You are free to disagree with decisions that company makes, and take your business elsewhere. That is obviously, qualitatively different from an argument about proposed legislation being bad, that it's hard to see how one could draw a comparison between them in good faith.


> Every company, every person is entitled to decide what content they are willing to support. You are free to disagree with decisions that company makes, and take your business elsewhere.

Including Christian bakers? I don't really disagree with your free market approach, but that doesn't seem to be the way things stand.


Your comment is misguided. When private actors behave badly, you can opt out and go for competiting services. When the state mandates something your options run out. It is a pure attack on Freedom.


> When private actors behave badly, you can opt out and go for competiting services.

Except when they're a quasi-monopoly, then people find it more difficult to opt out. Hence anti-trust laws, and more recently, GDPR.

> It is a pure attack on Freedom.

By definition, all laws are exactly that. The question is never "does this law restrict my freedom?" but always "on balance, am I happy with the way this law restricts my/others freedom, and what might be the (un)intended consequences?".

So while it's a dumb proposal, it's hardly more stifling to creativity than 70+ years of draconian copyright protection.


You're still free to open a competing service, and can leverage the fact that you are better than the other guys as free advertisement basically.


When private actors that have a monopoly behave badly you can go to another but you will have a severely degraded experience. For example reddit, YouTube, Facebook, etc. There is no alternative if they block you, you just have to accept that you're no longer allowed to participate in a certain activity.

GitHub is also quite like this.


Alternatives exist, what you're complaining about is that they're not popular. You aren't entitled to viable alternatives. If a private business acts in a way contrary to your beliefs, your only option is to stop using them. Having an alternative private business to choose is nice, but never guaranteed.


Can you tell me what's the alternative for Youtube? Or github? The alternative should be a real alternative, not a useless replica. For example, I should be able to watch latest movie trailers, music videos, tech reviews, etc. on the youtube alternative. And I should be able to report issues to Microsoft's VS code project.

This is not just about popularity. On the internet, winner takes all. The monopoly is extreme in every type of website/service. If you can't use Youtube, you effectively cannot watch videos on the web. If you are banned by github, you cannot participate in the global open source community.

There are 2 solutions:

1. Break the monopolies.

2. Force them to respect my rights, similar to the government.


Git is a decentralized version system there is absolutely no reason to have to use Github to work on any open source project.

Youtube is no monopoly. You have hundreds of sites offering video streaming services and you can broadcast your own as well using other services not affiliated to youtube. The fact that almost everyone uses Youtube does not make it a monopoly.


> Break the monopolies

Can you explain what makes Youtube and Github monopolies when both have competitors in the market?

> Force them to respect my rights, similar to the government.

What rights do you think you have that they are violating?


> When private actors behave badly, you can opt out and go for competiting services.

> You aren't entitled to viable alternatives.

????


There's an extraordinary difference between you being entitled to a company being forced to exist to serve whatever arbitrary need or approach you wish, and there being an open market such that a competitor can set up shop.

If you were entitled to alternatives, that means the tax payer has to reasonably fund every possible alternative that could exist, or at a minimum a vast array of them, and most likely at perpetual losses. It'd be extraordinarily dumb and would become an epic cost for the government and would breed corruption (failed businesses, bleeding vast red ink, perpetually subsidized no matter what they do).


True in the general case - however, it gets strange when that argument is used to defend monopolies, i.e. markets that, for whatever reason, are not open.

E.g., I personally don't see why it's bad when an elected government passes legislation but totally fine when Apple uniterally updates the App Store ToS or Google excludes certain things from Search. In both cases, participants of the respective markets won't have any choice than to comply.

I believe YouTube is comparable. Yes, there are alternatives. However, YouTube's popularity is important for content producers. If you make your own video content and are banned from YouTube, you'll likely have a significantly harder time to be discovered.

I agree with you that this woudn't really be an issue for GitHub, since there is neither a market nor any lock-in effects or monopoly.


There are absolutely lock-in effects.

You want to participate in web standards groups? You have to use github to do so in any sort of effective fashion.

Same thing for various open-source projects.

The _owner_ of a project has a bit more say in things, though I've heard some people claim that in order to attract contributors a project must be on GitHub nowadays, because many people will fail (or refuse) to participate in any way other than GitHub pull requests.

So I agree with you about Apple and YouTube; I just think GitHub is closer to them than you think it is...


When you cherry pick quotes from the source it sounds contradictory. What I meant, and what I feel was clear when taken in context, is that alternatives exist in this particular case. However if you do not think those alternatives are viable then that's just too bad. You aren't entitled to viable alternatives, or alternatives that fit your definition of viable.


GitHub has a networking effect with other open source projects, same as Facebook or Google.

When Google decides you're not gonna show up in the search results, as much as 90% of your traffic could be gone. A business can (and have) go belly up for not showing up in page 1 of the search results.

IMO if a service crosses a certain threshold of networking and marketshare they should be regarded as a public utility rather than a private business. The other option is to give such corporations an incredibly amount of power over what the population thinks, sees or, in github's case, codes.


Nobody is forcing you to use such services no matter how large their market share is. This is not the same as public utility where there is only one choice.


Nobody is forcing you to use water from the faucet, the river is just outside town. Nobody is forcing you to use the electric grid, generator + gasoline is an option. Etc.

Even for public utility you have a choice. It's not a good choice, which is what matters.

Facebook and Google have definitely reached a state where not being part of their business (by being on Page 1 of the Results or having a Facebook Page) will actively harm your business. If either denies you service they also deny a lot of customers access to your service just like you'd get people denied service to a business when that business isn't connected to the power grid.

And if you think that isn't true I urge you to talk to a PR department of a bigger corporation or a startup. Placement on Google and Facebook is very very important.


You are also always free to leave a country and live somewhere else. There are plenty of countries in the world. Isn't that the same argument?


But almost no one is actually free to move to another country.


If you replace "country" with "city" or "province", then pretty much everyone is in fact free to leave, legally. Yet we still consider it bad when such governments censor things.


In practice though you need a job and a new house. You might be legally free to leave but in reality you're not able to.


Right; my point was that "there are severe practical consequences for leaving" is exactly the situation with something like github.


The difference is that you are not entitled to receive service from GitHub. You are entitled to keep your own private property and to continue to interact voluntarily your current friends, family, and neighbors (and anyone else willing to deal with you). However, both of these liberties will be infringed by most governments if you attempt to remove yourself from their jurisdiction.


> you are not entitled to receive service from GitHub

Are you "entitled" to a job in your field? Plenty of employers now require you to work on GitHub.

> both of these liberties will be infringed by most governments if you attempt to remove yourself from their jurisdiction

What? If I attempt to move out of a city, the city government is not going to arrest me, in most countries. (There are some exceptions like China, but even there it's not the town government that does the arresing if someone tries to move.)

Seriously, not interacting with GitHub is a larger imposition for many people than not living in some particular city.


> Are you "entitled" to a job in your field?

No.

> If I attempt to move out of a city, the city government is not going to arrest me, in most countries.

I was obviously referring to national governments—the original subject of this thread—and disavowing citizenship. Individual cities (usually) don't have the same power, if only because of their smaller size. However, just try opting out of city services (and taxes) while retaining all your private property, particularly land located within the city's borders. The city's influence may be less, but the principle remains the same.


> No.

Universal declaration of human rights article 23 may disagree, fwiw. Assuming you accept that declaration at all, of course. But the point is that there is, shall we say, a wide spectrum of views on this topic.

> I was obviously referring to national governments

That wasn't obvious at all, since you were commenting in a subthread that was specifically about how city governments are subject to many of the same restrictions even though leaving cities is "easy" (certainly comparable to leaving github).

> However, just try opting out of city services (and taxes) while retaining all your private property

The context here, just to remind you, is whether "just don't interact with entity X" is a reasonable response to complaints about entity X doing certain things like censorship. It's a well-established principle at least in the US that a city government cannot infringe your free speech rights. It's likewise a well-established principle that a corporation effectively can. This is largely due to accidents of history and somewhat due to differences in enforcement mechanisms (in that a city government could try to get you jailed with more success than a corporation).

But the "if you don't like it, just don't deal with them" response doesn't address any of that, and is in fact particularly weak because for many people it is _easier_ to not deal with a particular city government (i.e. move to a different city) than to not deal with GitHub.



Frankly this title is worthy of the Daily Mail. I expected more of GitHub. It merely describes one individual proposal currently going through the process of consultation before being debated in the parliament, nothing else.


This is a fair point. However, it is still a (bad) proposal and while it is possible to hope that policy makers will make the right decision on their own, some public pressure does not hurt.

This may be unlikely to pass as is, but the trend of stifling new software and algorithm development in the name of copyright (or security) is pretty strong. IMO it is worthwhile to push back using chance we have.


Some things shouldn't even be proposed. If someone proposed to kill old people, he would be fired or even arrested. Same thing should happen here. But no, idiots and evil people can propose all kinds of evil stuff over and over and over, until it passes. Why? Many reasons, but "it's just a proposal" is one of them. It's never just a proposal a proposal and since these people have huge responsibilities they should use their brains or it means they are evil and must be punished.


The EU has passed similar(ly destructive) policies in the past, like the GDPR. This would be perfectly consistent with their standard behavior.


Is the GDPR a bad thing? Previous commentary on HN seemed broadly positive.


It’s extraordinarily destructive, but HN has a soft spot for government privacy directives, no matter how ineffectual or costly.


I initially felt the same way, but after actually reading through the GDPR materials, and a bit of Q&A on HN, I've come to the conclusion that it's a good thing.

It doesn't really place any burden on business - it simply means that you must be transparent with users about how you use their data, allow them to know what data you hold about them, and allow them to delete it if they wish.

As a consumer, as well as a founder, that seems very reasonable.


It doesn't really place any burden on business

Sadly, that is not true.

But the biggest real problem is that since the GDPR, read literally, is borderline draconian and the defence is that the regulators will enforce it selectively and pragmatically, literally no-one really knows how great that burden will be... which itself then becomes a significant burden.


I'm afraid I completely disagree, especially with "borderline draconian".

When I first heard about it, I was somewhat fearful of the unknown, imagining I was going to have to 'waste' time on 'checkbox compliance' - but after spending some time reading about it, I believe the intent is good, and also that the burden isn't going to be that big.

As a consumer, I absolutely want the GDPR - I believe I do have a right to know how my information will be used, to know exactly what is held, and to have it deleted if desired.

As a founder, I want to be responsible with personal data. And because I am, I'm already compliant with just about everything needed by the GDPR. I hardly expect a deluge of requests from users, so I don't even need to spend any time on automation.


It's not the intent that I have a problem with.

Moreover, as a founder, I couldn't agree more with being responsible about working with personal data. We have always been careful about the data we collect and how we store and process it. But from what we have learned ourselves so far, we seem to have significant additional obligations under the GDPR (for example, being able to produce substantial amounts of formal documentation to the ICO on demand) that we would not currently be able to meet, and we might have other obligations that could be awkward (often related to the various subject requests now possible) but the implications aren't fully clear.

We also don't expect a huge deluge of requests from users. In fact, we've never had any under existing data protection rules. However, given that there several people have posted to HN recently saying that they'll be happy to send in large numbers of such requests when the GDPR comes into effect just to make a point, and unlike the current data protection rules in the UK there appears to be no provision for a token fee to deter such vexatious requests, we have to consider the possibility and at least have some intelligent way to respond, even if that just means knowing what our actual obligations would be if anyone did make such a request without doing any other work in advance.


Well I'm instinctively against this, but on the other hand wouldn't it encourage serious adoption of a decentralized system? Which might not be a bad thing. Or?


As with most things it's not a simple black and white, good versus evil issue. It could lead to developers actually bothering to put a license on their open work, stricter enforcement of open source agreements, and, like you suggest, people looking at alternative ways of hosting code.

On the other hand, it would also mean that we'd be 'randomly' told that we can't commit something because it looks too similar to some other code someone wrote. In the case of Google vs Oracle that would be a relatively trivial, obvious-to-an-experienced-developer 10 line method. That wouldn't be great...


for me this is very weird. While being employed by a company the code you write is theirs, so what happens if I move to another company and reuse code from my brain? Also do they understand how amazingly complex it would be to do code checks for similarity of code?


>so what happens if I move to another company

Don't worry, at our current rate that won't be allowed. As a programmer you are now company property. I guess that also means "You're fired" means "Literally fired in an incinerator"


it also means the end of the internet as a disruptive force, the prevalence of legal force over everything and the end of utopians


Possibly, but the policy response to such a development could be making it illegal to participate in such a system if it does not implement similar measures. I, for one, would prefer the censorship arms race be stopped here.


It could. After all the internet has tended to route around censorship so far.

Or it could make the whole internet more like the Chinese internet. I'd rather not take that chance and allow the decentralized systems to grow organically instead (and they do, albeit quite slowly).


As someone who runs a large filesharing platform I don't really care since we are already more-or-less compliant.

We already check newly uploaded files automatically against known bad content and stuff copyright holders have reported in the past. It's basically just file checksums though, nothing fancy.

I don't know what what would be "appropriate and proportionate" according to the directive though, and having to check code for copyright infringements sounds absolutely painful and vain.


I've emailed my MEPs. One is sick but it'll be interesting to see what the others say


That was impressive, I have received a response already.

It appears my MEP had a few concerns with some other aspects of it already, so has had their eye on it for a year. She said she has contacted "the Rapporteur for the file, Axel Voss MEP to ask for his clarification on the issues you raised related to code-sharing platforms and why the scope of the proposal suggests to include them."

I'm kind of surprised at getting such a genuine response so quickly! I will update once I get more information

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