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Latest Text of EU Copyright Directive Shows It's Even Worse Than Expected (techdirt.com)
253 points by sqdbps 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments



And it's very telling, regarding the quality of journalism nowadays, that the battlefield has moved to fighting over who gets to monetize headlines pointing to content that's too shitty for people to click through to.

Regarding links that people actually click on, the current situation is that it'll take users to the publishers' websites, where the publisher monetizes it through advertising. Nothing wrong with that.

But, apparently, that's not enough. Because the state of journalism has been reduced to providing headlines that make people go "...naaaah. not worth it."

At the same time, the way they lobbied for this law was based on the notion that media companies don't get adequately rewarded for the bang-up job that they're doing, creating all this high-quality and highly original content.


Totaly agree. Also sometimes headlines used to link to articles are way better than the whole article itself.

It’s a noble art on 2ch and japanese groups to sum up articles in the most insane way possible. I understand bean counters wanting money on where the action is happening, irrelevant to their deserving of any.


What we see is the logical extension of what's required for continuation of the copyright system: a highly regulated Internet where nothing can be published unless its copyright status has been accurately identified. Only authorized people can be relied on to produce new content, otherwise there's no way to tell if they just copied it from someone else.

The next step would be to shut down proxies, systems such as Tor, and connections to sites in rogue states that don't sufficiently enforce copyright.


Funny many years back I had a friend who worked at a company that builds a widely successful proprietary OS that tried to lock down the OS from any unauthorized software, aka solving the issues with copyright / piracy forever so to speak. They figured it's not their battle to fight and scrapped the project. It's just not a battle worth fighting. Look at Steam... Sure people still crack Steam games... but many more so buy Steam games.


I think they would need to shut down encryption too, because one logical outcome to avoiding copyright checks is encrypting the content on the client so the provider don't know what has been uploaded.


The provider could still be held liable if the decryption keys became public. The argument would just be that they "should have known better" than to "publish" data that they couldn't examine.


I guess you're right, if this law is enforced there's no excuse and longer.


and the shutdown of basically any kind of public forum on a small site since it is going to be nearly impossible for small entities to comply with regulations.


But they say that you don’t need to filter all content! Like if you know no one will ever upload copyrighted content there’s nothing to worry about.

And that not all content will be covered (although they appear to have accidentally forgotten to include that bit in what they published).


"if you know no one will ever upload copyrighted content"

How in the world could I know that as a website master? How am I supposed to know the range of actions for any future users.


Legally, perhaps it could be sufficient to include a check box saying "I certify that I am the copyright holder to everything I upload". Compare with the way EU handles the cookie law and GDPR consent click-yes.


I was being sarcastic (I thought the tone and content made that obvious :) )


You're joking here, but a politician in Poland, when asked about how shall a popular link sharing platform (wykop.pl) deal with submissions, of which there are 100k / hour in peak times, actually suggested that "users should know not to upload illegal materials".


Please don't use sarcasm on HN. It is low quality discourse that only causes confusion, and sarcasm doesn't have a detectable "tone" in text.


The last sentence threw me off (about certain content not being covered). If it was just your first paragraph, I would have thought it was sarcasm. And I was tired.


The elites finally have the internet they want to take back control.


The analysis of Article 11 is misleading. The actually relevant part is in Article 11 (3), which incorporates (by reference) the usual limitations and exceptions to copyright [1], including the right to quote. This is necessary, anyway, because the Berne convention mandates that right [2].

Article 11 targets news aggregators and search engines. Unlike blog posts or newspaper articles, they generally cannot benefit from the right to quote [3]. Article 11 has two goals. One, it aims at protecting pieces of a work that are generally too short to enjoy regular copyright protection; second, unlike the usual practice in continental European copyright law, it grants ancillary copyright to publishers, not authors, for easier enforcement of these rights.

Note that this does not mean that I endorse Article 11 (I do not and actually consider it harmful and the result of misguided lobbying), but we should be clear what we are actually talking about.

[1] Article 5 of Directive 2001/29/EC.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_quote

[3] As the Wikipedia article above summarizes it, "the resulting new work is not just a collection of quotations, but constitutes a fully original work in itself".


...what Article 11 is really about is that the European contentmafia wants to collect taxes from Google. We've already seen how that played out when Spain introduced something like this on the level of national law. IIRC, Google retaliated by taking Spanish media companies' content out of the index which is something that advertising clients of those media companies were less than pleased about, and a deal was quickly reached between Google and them, saying that Google didn't have to pay.

So, what it will really do will be to create a monopoly enshrined in law, that news aggregation and search is a business you can only be in, if you already wield Google-esque influence over the world of media.

Which is wrong. It's just wrong, on so many levels.


To raise a counterpoint, the point where I though Google as a Search engine started being "a bit evil" was the point where it stopped redirecting users to search result websites, and instead started displaying content on its own pages, in the form of snippets, thus reducing traffic to those cites.

I don't deny the util of being able to see movie times without having to click through, or a businesses contact details, but the effective redirection of traffic with reduction in site's ad revenue of whatever feels 'wrong'.


from a user perspective that seems like a complete win. I'm not quite convinced the marginal value of offering that data is worth any kind of compensation. Movie times seems like something movie theaters would want to give out for free and that ideally there would be a standard feed format for that data.

News blurb also seems rational to me. If I only need the headline I shouldn't have a go to the site. The headlines will be all over twitter and Facebook as people share with their friends so it's hard to see how Google is doing any harm here. If I want to read the details then I'd click through to the site.

Heck i come to HN and scan the headlines and only occasionally click through to the actual article. This topic for example I have not clicked through. Does that make HN evil?


> Heck i come to HN and scan the headlines and only occasionally click through to the actual article. This topic for example I have not clicked through. Does that make HN evil?

No, because copying titles is a very normal way to refer to something. Heck, even quoting is, as long as its done in proportion. But caching entire websites (such as Google Cache)? Copyright infringement. If it weren't for the fact that it is caching and therefore OK. Usenet providers attempted to argue usenet servers are also just caches, but I'm not sure if/how far that one has flied.


Google cache is not infringement, because Google respects robots.txt and because it only caches content made freely available by the publisher. Advertising is a business model, not part of the license agreement of a non-consentwalled website.


Don't get me wrong, from a user point of view it is. Nonetheless, it impacts the business, no-doubt. A movie theatre may want to embed adverts for other films down the side of its listings, it may have other reasons for wanting people to actually visit its site.

Google isn't doing harm from a user perspective, but it palpably is doing harm from a content provider's point of view by screen-scraping the content and repackaging it as its own.


I walk into the shop, I see some newspapers with headlines on them, I decide to buy the paper, or I don't.

If I don't I'm not 'stealing' anything.

If a publisher wants to show the headline story to prospective customers in the shop, it can -- google will display the headline, and if people are interested they'll click, just like they'll buy the newspaper in the shop if they want to read below the fold.

If the person isn't interested they won't click / won't buy the paper.

If the publisher doesn't want people in the shop seeing the headline, they put it inside their publiccation. Online they simply mark it as unavailable to google (robots.txt or whatever).

Now if the argument is that search engines have no right to read your site and display the headlines without explicit invitation, I'd argue that operating a web server is the invitation to all, and robots.txt is the bouncer saying "you aren't allowed in". Google and other search engines obey robots.txt / the bouncer.

  User-agent: Googlebot
  Disallow: /belowthefold/


> I walk into the shop, I see some newspapers with headlines on them, I decide to buy the paper, or I don't. If I don't I'm not 'stealing' anything.

Are you doing this on an industrial scale and building a large ad-supported business from it. More importantly, are you standing outside the shop saying 'don;t go in there, old chum - I can tell you what's going on'.


> More importantly, are you standing outside the shop saying 'don;t go in there, old chum - I can tell you what's going on'.

Sure are. https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3295/2365794657_6a9a3f2d19_b.j...

Why would I need to buy the News & Star, or even go into the shop, now I know what's happening?

It's quite easy for a publication to not appear in the following section of google's site

https://i.imgur.com/RoFQrN1.png

Either a simple robots.txt (a sign telling school kids they aren't allowed), or a username/password (members only), or even close the shop completely.

The newspapers have headlines and the start of stories on display in shops, trying to attract passers by to their wears. You can even read the first few sentences of the cabinet meltdown in the telegraph, far more than you can on google, all without paying the newspaper owner, or indeed the shopkeeper, a penny.

https://c8.alamy.com/comp/BBYXHY/english-newspapers-on-a-she...

The headlines are put out there for everyone to see to entice people to come in and spend money. If the shop or newspaper proprietor doesn't want people reading the headlines without buying, they can not put them on display (robots.txt), or cover them up, like on these (ex) publications

https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/B4B6/production/...

What they can't do is charge people for looking at the headlines on the advertising board they put out in front of their shop.


And that's fine. I think it is perfectly reasonable to have good display a headline and first sentence snippet. What isn't reasonsble is if Google were to mine the story for info and display the whole lot on their site, rather than on the newspaper's site.


Yes, but at the end of the day it should be all about the user, right?

For example when considering the cost of water pollution we don't try to balance the interests of the owners of paint factories with the interests of people who drink water. Instead we consider if the cost of compliance with new antipollution laws will be worse for people who use paint then the cost to them of drinking polluted water.


It is all about the user in the long term. Google dominating and closing the internet is very problematic. In the long term, we could have users that do not go out of Google and just accept whatever Google give them as THE answer.

Maintaining a healthy ecosystem and competition is good in the long term.

There are many things that are forbidden even though the consumer might like them in the short term (ex: selling lower than the cost for retailers to kill all attempt of competition).


> selling lower than the cost for retailers to kill all attempt of competition

Which specific law are you referring to?


Anti-dumping laws vary by country:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumping_(pricing_policy)


It should be about facilitating a sustainable long-term balance.

In your analogy, Google is the owner of the paint factory, yes? If not, why not?


What’s wrong is that entire kingdoms were built around “snippets”; low value content that is simple and short and doesn’t really need anything more than a table (movie times) or a few short sentences (recap of events aka “news”).


Somebody still has to write them. (Although AI is catching up.)


> it aims at protecting pieces of a work that are generally too short to enjoy regular copyright protection; second, unlike the usual practice in continental European copyright law, it grants ancillary copyright to publishers, not authors, for easier enforcement of these rights.

So it wants to expand copyright coverage and give it not to creators but to those who profit on them. Why should anyone accept that? Copyright is already crazy overreaching, it should be reduced, not expanded. This corrupt control grabbing should be completely repealed.


I sell my stuff via Walmart. I have no problem if Walmart is given the legal right to prosecute shoplifters, since (likr a publisher) they already paid me for my work.


Not a good comparison, since expansion of copyright is always going to be about censorship, violation of free speech and so on. That's the nature of copyright itself. Giving publishers more censorship power? No, thanks!



Query: if this directive passes and the outcomes are in line with the negative predictions, what happens?

If it becomes standard practice for all except certain large corporations to ban all EU addresses, how will this impact the web and the EU?


> If it becomes standard practice for all except certain large corporations to ban all EU addresses, how will this impact the web and the EU?

That would be great, because better solutions with less monopoly would quickly spring up if those corporations don't make deals with publishers. That's just hypothetical, counterfactual speculation, though, since corporations like Google would make deals.

Like others have pointed out, these regulations will primarily have bad effects on small content providers such as individual authors, small forum sites, and not for profit information-providers.


I would hope that Tor usage in the EU goes up.


Tor isn't such a great solution here, because too many sites discriminate against Tor users, in one way or another. Some impose horrible CAPTCHAs. Or block access entirely. Some allow access, and even logins, but don't allow account creation. And maintaining usable Google or Facebook login accounts via Tor is virtually impossible.

Using VPN services would be far more practical. Although some sites do discriminate against VPN users, it's much less common than for Tor users. The EU could of course block access to VPN servers, just as China has done. But some VPN services use obfsproxy, and so can piggyback on obfuscation efforts by the Tor Project.


> And maintaining usable Google or Facebook login accounts via Tor is virtually impossible.

Sounds like a feature more than an issue.


I suppose. It depends on your perspective.

As it is now, only serious criminals can manage it.


> only serious criminals can manage it.

Manage what? Not having to use Google and Facebook?


No, having functional Google and Facebook accounts that they can use to anonymously mess with people.

Basically, you need clean IPs and mobile accounts. Tor and VPN exits don't work so well. Creating your own VPN in a VPS sometimes works. But I gather that the pros use botnet slaves with genuine residential IPs.


For Facebook you don't need an exit node, they have an official onion address, facebookcorewwwi.onion


Good point. I bet, though, that creating an account there triggers heavy-duty authentication.

And that reminds me. I recently tried to create a ProtonMail account via Tor. But they wouldn't activate it without mobile and credit/debit card numbers. Ironic, no? And yes, I do get that many jerks have misused ProtonMail accounts.

Edit: I take that back about Facebook. Via the onion, it just wanted an email address to authenticate. I'm impressed.


It’s worth mentioning that this discrimination is sadly necessary. Tor amounts to a massive open proxy, and just about any service that requires accounts (and many that don’t, like IRC or image boards) looks down on open proxies as primary abuse sources.

As someone who has run both an image board and a decent IRC server in the past, it’s a choice between heavily scrutinizing tor connections or banning them outright.


HN allows Tor access. I don't know about account creation, though. I suppose that it might create shadowbanned accounts.


  wx13p 7 hours ago [dead] [-]
  It works.
Apparently not.


Yes, that account was automatically shadowbanned.

But someone did a manual override.

I am impressed. HN does allow throwaway accounts, when necessary to post anonymously. And making that possible via Tor is admirable. There's certainly potential for abuse. I see occasional spam, and angry insults, but nowhere near as much as one might expect. Which suggests either that shadowbanning works well enough, or efficient moderation.


It works.


I was assuming that a hypothetical increase in Tor use would also increase the number of onion services.


> and the outcomes are in line with the negative predictions, what happens?

This law is bad, but the negative predictions are unhinged.

There is no link tax. Article 11 is a requirement for commercial sites using copyright material as part of their commercial work to either get permission or pay a licence.

I'd be interested to know how article 11 is any different from existing law.


The problem is the definition of commercial use.

A German court ruled a few years back that use of a creative commons image by a non-profit publically funded television station was "commercial use" with the argumentation that "had the CC-NC image not existed they would have had to license an image and pay for it". Another German court ruling decided that a personal blog containing any sort of advertising qualifies as "commercial use" (in the context of the exemption from making the operator contact information visible on websites operated for personal use). The definition of commercial use is not clear-cut and definitely not in line with US rulings. This is why Art11 is a significant increase in reach. Small organizations and nonprofits operating mailing lists with a web interface would now have to screen all messages to make sure nobody quotes a news snippet. Same with forums and such. And of course it would shut down wikinews (wikipedia is explicitly and narrowly excluded, other wikimedia projects are not) and other user-operated news agregators where users are likely to quote parts of articles.


> Another German court ruling decided that a personal blog containing any sort of advertising qualifies as "commercial use"

Erm, you say that like it's something we're supposed to disagree with?


Yeah, my point is that the law makes no distinction between something like google news that has news snippets as its main business, and something like a personal blog or forum that contains advertising or collects donations to cover server expenses. Both would be classified as "commercial use" in Germany and would fall under this law. This means that forum operators now have to police their users to make sure nobody posts a news snippet.


If you host your blog on a free host, where the host inserts ads to offset the cost of the free hosting - is that commercial use?


I'm not sure - the host would clearly be commercial use under German law - I don't know about the user. But for this law, it doesn't matter - it would become the host's responsibility to police the content of the user.


Yes, it's commercial use on the part of the host.


I literally cannot believe


Here's commentary on the court decision (in German) with links to the actual decision:

https://netzpolitik.org/2014/urteil-des-lg-koeln-zu-creative...


> what happens?

Ideally, people would submit their own creative content. Personal blogging and vlogging would flourish. Gallery sites would expand exponentially with floods of new, self-made art. The Internet would shift back from primarily consumption to creation.

Ideally...


I can't help but feel that any 'radical' positive perspective I hold depends on whether google/facebook/etc. can find a way to not be subjected to these laws.


What happens to fanfiction?


If the part of the law about responsibility for republishing 3rd party content directly applies to search engines, then they will be afraid to show snippets and anchortext, since they're now responsible for all of that content as if the search engine had explicitly chosen to publish it.

This is how Russia made Yandex censor the Russian web. Search about a gay topic? Sorry, comrade, we don't want to violate the law about promoting homosexuality to minors, so we're going to self-censor the result.

In Europe, this will make it unsafe to provide search results with anchortext or snippets that might be hate speech, Holocaust denial, or encourage sex trafficking. Choose your snippetizing algorithm carefully! Drop the wrong words and someone's going to jail.


Isn’t it obvious?

The EU will be blocked out from the latest and greatest experiences on the web.


Right. Just like China etc. So anyone in the EU will need to use VPNs and/or Tor to reach the real Internet. I mean, it's one thing to force respect for people's privacy. But this stuff is fundamentally inconsistent with the Internet.


Maybe it's just the latest ploy in the game of creating home grown internet companies. Weibo et al seem to do great behind the Great Firewall.


Good point, I guess. But that's a pretty blunt instrument.

In China's case, there is a genuine (not that I like it) interest in blocking access to "disruptive" material.


The internet outside EU is not so interesting as you think

American online services will be available without problems


I'm a pro EU remain voter who respects the results of the referendum in the UK. If this law passes, I will be a former pro EU remain voter, and will flip to the leave camp (should my vote ever be required for a second referendum). This will be going too far.


I feel similarly, but history suggests that if it's a terrible idea then the UK government will be very keen on passing domestic legislation that is similar but more extreme.


I'm hopeful common sense will prevail here. I just wish the EU would have had the sense to see the growing sentiment around their lack of transparency and where it leads (i.e., Brexit and that is probably just the beginning).


You think UK, the land where whistleblowing and news reporting is illegal libel, is better for free speech than the EU?


Actually whistleblowing is not only legal in the UK, but encouraged by the government and whistleblowers can expect protection: https://www.gov.uk/whistleblowing


I think the better point about hyperlinking is that you shouldn't have something so ambiguous at the center of the law concerning the use of the Internet.


Indeed. Is it just the anchor tag or are other methods cool? If the site lets me embed their content in an iframe is that cool? What about bookmarks, all I am really doing is saving a link. What about link shorteners? Do they become illegal? What about instead of a link somebody programs an extension that intercepts links and manually types the link url into the address bar and programmatically presses return? If I drop the referer header are they even going to know it is a link? Is a bot that indexes their page into a search engine saving an illegal link? The answer to all of the above is probably whatever the IP holder deems the most profitable in each circumstance.


Why do you think hyperlinks are illegal? What possible interpretation of the law are you using?

> What about bookmarks, all I am really doing is saving a link

Perfect example of the confusion caused by these fucking stupid articles.

i) The law doesn't apply in any way to your book marks.

ii) The only way the law could apply to your book marks is if you're a commercial organisation, and you publish them as part of a commercial venture, and if they are also more than hypertext links but include non-fair use portions of a copyright work.


The problem is, there is no "fair use" in europe. At least theoretically you can be sued for any use of copyrighted material.


It's called different things in different countries. In the UK it's called "Fair dealing". It is a lot more restricted than the US version of fair use. Isn't fair use, even in the US, a defence to a claim of copyright infringement, rather than a right?


Technically-minded people are used to systems that are at some level logically consistent. A common misconception is that the same rules apply to politics and social or political power[1]. Laws and politics are not logical, internally consistent systems by design. Of course laws are written ambiguously; the uncertainty about the scope of a law is a feature.

Laws that might apply to a very broad set of behaviors and situations can be selectively enforced. If you are uncertain if you activities became illegal, you are incentivized to err on the safe side and self-censor.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs


I do wonder how the law works - does it work by the weight of the arguments in the text or by the simplest reading of it. So if the text literally says 'does not apply to hyperlinks' then any does infringement of other laws by hyperlinks win because it's there in black and white or does the weight of all the other arguments win?


IANAL, but usually if something is explicitly allowed by law you can rely on that even if other parts of the law forbid it.


The rule of lenity works that was for US criminal laws. For US civil law, it is not quite so.


This is a directive not a regulation - each EU member state gets to decide that.


Right? What is the maximum depth of links before it stops being illegal?


The proposal is bad enough, but I don't believe the part about URLs being considered snippets. URLs are technically necessary for linking and any publisher can decide what goes into their URLs.

Rather than lawyers not understanding technology I think this interpretation is just the reverse.


Do you want darknets? Because this is how you get darknets...


If this applied to the entire world, sure. But this just adds the EU to China, Russia, Iran, etc. That is getting to be a huge chunk, I admit. But EU users will just need VPNs and/or Tor to escape.


I think it works the other way around.

If one of Facebook's users (anywhere in the world) posts a piece of copyrighted material, and that material is served to a European user, then the copyright owner can take Facebook to court for copyright infringement under this legislation. I'm not even sure the owner has to be a European entity.

European law considers the offence to occur in the browser's country, not the server's country (hence Yahoo having to block all references to Nazi memorabilia as a result of a French court case held in France under French law despite Yahoo not being a French company).

Mind you, the US takes the same viewpoint, hence them suing to extradite Mr Dotcom from New Zealand for trial in the US for transgressing US law. The fact that he wasn't a US citizen, MegaUpload wasn't a US company, and he had committed no crime according to New Zealand law didn't matter. The US still considered his breach of copyright to have occurred on US soil, so he had committed a crime on US soil.

At least that's how I read it... I am not a lawyer.


> ... and that material is served to a European user ...

But in this scenario, Facebook would be blocking all EU users, based on IP address, DNS lookup, and so on. Just like Netflix blocks non-US users from accessing US-licensed media.

So EU users could only access Facebook through Tor, or VPN services. And Facebook could still argue (and make sure that it held no conflicting data) that it knowingly served no users in the EU.


Why are you describing situation where VPN is needed to access Facebook as bad thing?

I set up ublock/pi-hole for a reason :) If they GTFO EU then even better as EU pages won't load their spy scripts.


I agree that using Facebook via VPNs and/or Tor is prudent. If you must use it at all. Because, even if you obfuscate persona and location, it's still harvesting data on social connectivity. And even if everyone involved obfuscates persona and location, that's still too much data to share with a single entity.

So anyway, Facebook was just an example. To show how social media etc providers could work around the EU Copyright Directive. By blocking access to all users known to be in the EU. If there are no apparent EU users, arguably the law doesn't apply. But then, IANAL.


> European law considers

Thankfully foreign laws don't magically propagate over the internet, even if a citizen of a country happens to point their web browser at your server.


GP explicitly stated a case where the US did the same. So for all intents and purposes the law does propagate 'magically' over the internet. Well, at least US law does.


The EU isn’t the US, and the US isn’t New Zealand.


The EU does include France, though, and the example of French law constraining Yahoo's behaviour is relevant.


IANAL, but I think if you have a business establishment in a country then yes it may propagate in some shape or form, but I don't know the details. For instance, it may depend on distinctions such as subsidiary vs branch office.

Facebook does have a business establishment within the EU. They are selling ads in Europe that are delivered to EU users. There is no way that Facebook can claim not to be a European company in some sense.


Right. And so, to escape the EU Copyright Directive, they would need to exit the EU entirely, utterly, completely, etc.

Maybe that seems extreme and unlikely. But consider. What would Facebook be left with, if users couldn't share anything?


You'll see. They will come to some arrangement with the publishers and regulators. Facebook will not lose a quarter of its revenues and profits over this.

The problem is that not many have the clout of Facebook and Google to work out arrangements that won't kill them or fight the whole thing effectively.


As I said: yes, yes they do exactly that.


This discussion is informative but narrowly focused on the latest draft.

Can anyone post some links to a long form article that can explain how we got here and what is the logical fulfillment of these forces?

To me it looks like the destruction of the internet and transformation to a new version of televison.


While I fundamentally oppose this proposed legislation, I wonder whether the law becoming inhospitable to centralized services like Google, Twitter, and so on, could have the positive effect of pushing users towards a more free decentralised and less commercial Internet.


The need to implement upload filters is probably a greater burden on smaller players than it is on large players, so it could have the opposite effect.

Facebook can afford to just implement the damned upload filter.

But if you're an operator of a small blog, you'll likely just turn off commenting functionality and stuff like that.

If you're even smaller, and relying on other people to provide infrastructure for you to be able to comment on stuff, where does that push you? You guessed it. Back to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, etc.


I'm not talking about smaller centralised services, but rather distributed peer-to-peer systems, using IPFS for instance. Use of such systems has fallen out of fashion largely because of the rise of centralised alternatives (e.g. you can listen to music for free on Youtube nowadays). I think the tide could reverse if the law harms the centralised services.


Nearly all users want a commercial, centralized Internet.

They want specific, centralized corporations or entities (eg government) that they can get upset with when something goes wrong, whether that's PayPal, or Amazon, Twitter, or Comcast. They love that aspect, it provides a blanket (which tech people will call an illusory blanet).

The decentralization premise is a standard techie failure to understand product, markets and average consumers. It's solely an allure for tech people. That's why for it has been thrown about as a lure for so long with so little success to show for it, there's a reason for that: it's a fantasy for an extraordinarily small niche of people. A decentralized Internet is the absolute last thing on a list of wants from the bulk of users that make up the Internet, they have no idea what it is, no idea why it matters, and couldn't care less. It will not be possible to get them to care about it, because their Internet works for them right now.

The average user is not upset about the Internet and how it operates now. In fact quite the opposite, they're overwhelmingly satisfied with the Internet. You can see an ideal representation of the techie failure to understand the average user, in the dire predictions thrown at Facebook the last number of months, and the actual end results of what the average user did (they didn't quit Facebook, the techies were entirely wrong and didn't understand average users). Decentralized Internet is an emotional issue for most techies, just as Facebook is, that's where the fog comes in, and obvious reasoning mistakes are made.


If this law passes and the EU loses access to the current functionality of Google, HN, Github, Facebook and Twitter, can EU companies build local versions of those services, like China did?


If that happens I'd seriously consider pulling the plug on the whole EU. I can only hope enough people share this sentiment.


I'm very pro-EU in general but this path they are on now is a step too far for me. Way overstepping their mandate.


Is it possible that a small number of strategic EU legislative roles have been newly influenced/captured by special interests?

E.g. the Axel Springers of the world have long held certain positions. Why are they getting their way now, in 2018? Did legislation in EU or elsewhere set a recent precedent to lay the ground for this proposal?


This is just how long it took to get it through the pipeline. It was implemented first on a national level in Germany and Spain (with disastrous results - basically the publishers decided that it wasn't worth it for them to try to extract license fees because search engines started blocking them instead and in the end the German constitutional court ruled the law unconstitutional) so now they're attempting to get it in on a level where it's harder to remove because it needs international collaboration to do so. The downside for them is that it also needs international collaboration to enact, and thus we have more chances to prevent it at the european parliament level.

So do the right thing, call every MEP from your country that isn't an EPP member and ask them to a) be there at the vote (this is CRITICAL attendance really matters) and b) vote to allow changes to the law (tomorrow's vote is about whether the law continues to the next stage unchanged or whether changes are allowed - it's not about accepting or rejecting the law in general, just in its current form)


> with disastrous results - basically the publishers decided that it wasn't worth it for them to try to extract license fees because search engines started blocking them instead

You mean Google used their 90%+ market share to extort rights from publishers.


Look I'm not much of a google fan either but if you are a news aggregator or search engine and you have to figure out who owns each text snippet and what it costs and have an accounting and billing infrastructure to go with it, would you rather do that or simply not show the snippets? Google is one of the few entities who could afford to implement this, but as you say the giants with massive market share will just make a deal with the publishers to not pay the fees in exchange for exposure, and everyone else will be stuck with having to police their users in case they quote some news article. The main victims of this will be small forums and entities like wikinews. Google and Facebook will, as always, get away with it because the publishers depend on them. This law is disastrous for everyone else.


Nobody promised for news sources that their business model would be free of risk of changes. Same for news aggregator business model.

If it kills news aggregation and strengthens newspapers - I all in. Investigative journalism is needed for democracy and currently going extinct due to power shift from news sources to news aggregation - producing a news is way more costly then distributing it.


I don't think this will kill news aggregation, and I don't see how it will strengthen newspapers - the biggest aggregators will just strike a deal with publishers to not pay them anything in exchange for not delisting them. The smaller aggregators cannot afford to license snippets and aren't big enough to matter to the publishers so they will just stop publishing snippets. There is no case where publishers (and even less so investigative journalists) win from this. We've seen this in Germany and Spain where this was implemented in national law.

However, the actual victims of this are another group. The law specifies "commercial users" as ones that have to comply with this but does not define what "commercial use" is. In Germany, courts have ruled "commercial use" to be very broadly interpreted, and it would cover things like forums that collect user donations to cover server costs, or have advertising for the same reason. They are clearly not making money from news aggregation, but the way the law is written any kind of commercial use is the same and has to comply. So now they have to police all their users just to make sure they don't post a news snippet, and there is no minimal size for news snippets. So in the worst case you can no longer discuss news on a forum without making the forum operator liable for license fees to whoever published the news. As a forum operator, how am I supposed to know whether something is news or not? Do I have to screen every post and compare against a list? The law doesn't say. The committee proposed an exemption for user-submitted content but the proposer of the law shot it down. So now here we are. Forum operators have to police their users against unclear criteria or face legal liability. I think that's a chilling effect, and it has no upside.

If you want to strengthen investigative journalism, do exactly that - put more money into EU-wide funds to fund investigations, for example, or make it safer for them to report by implementing EU-wide protections for journalists (to prevent what happened in Poland from happening elsewhere for example). Or regulate ownership of mass media to prevent concentration of power. There's lots of things you can do on an European level to strengthen journalism and democracy. This is definitely not it.


> You mean Google used their 90%+ market share to extort rights from publishers.

You make it sound like it's a bad idea, I think it's lovely

They made their bed, let them lie on it


“Extort”?


It's possible but I think it has more to do with constantly chipping away. The more initiatives they push through the more brazen they get. GDPR was widely supported so now they go in for the kill.


I don't think that you should compare GDPR with this copyright stuff. GDPR is fundamentally about protecting normal people. This here is about propping up obsolete business models.


They are definitely comparable. First I don't buy that GDPR was about protecting normal people. It was a shot across the bows of Facebook and Google (but will actually end up working in their favour). The word for this is protectionism.

Also as I just wrote on twitter it kills innovation. All the ad revenue is supporting some of the most cutting edge machine learning work in the world. The data itself enables this too. The algorithms and learnings that come out of this can be applied in many spheres of interest and now all that is lost. It is a massive loss for innovation and humanity just as articles 11 & 13 will be.

People like GDPR because they have a kneejerk emotional reaction to it and they never consider the second and third+ order effects which are disastrous at best.


> Also as I just wrote on twitter it kills innovation. All the ad revenue is supporting some of the most cutting edge machine learning work in the world.

So what? What if instead of ad revenue it was financial fraud supporting some field of innovation, should we suddenly start being OK with it?


Ridiculous argument


Your argument is that criminal activity (which is what this now is) is justified in the name of innovation.

I agree with you that it's a ridiculous argument, because it's the same exact argument you made.


What's disastrous about removing this crap from the web?

https://twitter.com/dmitriid/status/1012592046102720512?s=21

Note: there are over a hundred advertisers and trackers in advertising cookies on top of "performance" cookies. On a website about a tech stack.

It's considerably worse on other sites.


As I see it, GDPR is mostly just a harmonisation of privacy rights that already existed in several EU countries and in some cases (Germany?) have a long history. I find it implausible that it was intended as an attack against Facebook and Google, but I'll look into it if I get a chance.

I also find it implausible that online advertising is a major contributor to machine learning (ML). In the literature I've read, online advertising doesn't usually appear near the top of the list of ML applications. I can see that authors might want to avoid mentioning something that everyone hates, but most of the articles do mention the military applications, which aren't likely to make most people feel enthusiastic about ML either.


> Why are they getting their way now, in 2018?

Naive guess: the loss of London as a balancer.


Yes, but the new EU versions would be just as vulnerable to being sued for copyright infringement for user content as Google, HN, Github, Facebook and Twitter would be.


> Because it still creates a license requirement on a snippet of any length,

No it doesn't.

For fucks sake, the law is lousy, but we don't need shit articles from techdirt who are completely unable to read and understand law.




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