Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

>"internet platforms that organise and promote large amounts of copyright-protected works uploaded by their users in order to make a profit"

HN does not organize large amounts of copyright-protected works, nor are the links to articles an 'upload'. If HN organized PDFs of the linked articles so you could just skip heading to a third party site then we'd be talking.

'meant' is not a dangerous word. All laws require interpretation, which is why most countries have specific interpretation guidelines for legislation and even then sometimes it takes a few cracks at the can to get it right.

That's not something 'dangerous', although it can and does go wrong from time to time. But it's a standard risk of rulemaking as it's the standard process for courts interfacing with legislation or other rule-making texts.




Many of the comments on HN are substantive enough to be covered by copyright, and modern copyright law protects everything protectable whether there’s a copyright notice or not.


...So what?

Comment content is governable in the site ToS, where copyright assignment or other methods of defining the respective user/site rights can be dealt with.

Even if it wasn't, your performance in posting implies consent to provide at the very least a limited license to publish content you posted.

So where's the beef here?


> Comment content is governable in the site ToS,

Which is probably non-binding or invalid in most non-US jurisdictions and does not address the problem.

> Even if it wasn't, your performance in posting implies consent to provide at the very least a limited license to publish content you posted.

That is like claiming a random user uploading Star Wars movies on youtube is no problem because that user gave them a limited license. That "license" is obviously invalid and Disney can claim copyright infringement. The proposed law now discusses whether "random user" or youtube or both are liable for this.


Only that, the comments section alone on HN is pretty straightforwardly “organis(ing) and promot(ing) [...] copyright-protected works uploaded by (its) users”, and so whether or not it falls under the scope of this section(1) hinges only on the regulators’ and courts’ opinions of what a “large amount” is.

(1) In a hypothetical world where this law has unbounded jurisdiction


Even if we take this doomsday hypo at face value (HN promotes comments? Really?), so what?

What's the scary remedy for a copyright holder if they already provided a license to publish the published content?

User posts don't make every forum into pornhub. Calm down.


> What's the scary remedy for a copyright holder if they already provided a license to publish the published content?

The core problem this law is trying to address is that website users are, en masse, contributing content to websites when they don’t have a license to do so. This behavior is against pretty much all websites’ terms of service.

As there are many users with no money all putting illegitimate content onto a few websites with a lot of money, this law seeks to shift the burden of liability onto the websites. As a policy, it’s not completely unreasonable, but makes the mass content-farm websites like YouTube unfeasable.

The lawmakers fear for their jobs if YouTube shuts down because of their new law, so they carve out a bunch of exceptions to let key sectors of the internet continue operating (with some work to comply).

The broadest of these, implementing automated content filters, is expensive and unreliable. Operators of smaller websites, such as a typical Internet forum, have their own exception. The problem is that the boundaries here are vague and (potentially) poorly drawn, leaving sites like HN (if it were in EU jurisdiction) with a bad set of options:

  * Hope nobody notices
  * Accept the liability and vigorously police the site manually, probably buying insurance against a judgment 
  * Rely on judges allowing them the small-volume or non-profit-seeking exemptions
  * Implement content filters that are expensive and a terrible user experience


"As a policy, it’s not completely unreasonable, but makes the mass content-farm websites like YouTube unfeasable."

...? Where are you getting this?

Have you read the current copy of the draft proposal? I did.

None of the restrictions are going to kill sites like Youtube (let alone HN). The proportionality element alone makes the 'we need to invest 200% of our revenue into content blocking' myth absurd.

Will some margin need to be shunted into mitigating unauthorized distribution of works that profit the platform? Yes. But that's already the law. It's literally unjust enrichment 101.


> Where are you getting this?

My imagination, mostly. Note the policy being referred to in that sentence is meant to be a hypothetical one that was never actually proposed, which shifts liability without any of the safeguards. The second clause is the justification for the various limitations and exemptions bolted onto the basic concept.

> Have you read the current copy?

Not the current copy, no. Last time this came up I tried, but I had a hard time slogging through the European legalese to get to the meat, which I’m not used to reading. That’s why I’ve tried to keep my analysis here in the small, only considering the particular clause that started this discussion thread.

Given how hard it is to read, and the general unhelpfulness of the community (1), it’s probably a good assumption that effectively no one has read the actual text, and instead is relying on the reporting, which feels extremely biased to me on this one.

> The proportionality element alone makes the 'we need to invest 200% of our revenue into content blocking' myth absurd.

You should consider making this the lede instead of burying it three replies deep. This shows that the entire discussion about the other clause is moot, as there won’t be a problem in our scenario regardless of the result of that analysis.

(1) When I did ask for some help getting through the citations last time, the only substantive advice was “just skip that stuff, it doesn’t matter.” If I have learned anything, it’s that everything written into legislation matters.


> doomsday hyp(e), ... Calm down.

As an aside, my original reply to you was simply trying to correct your statement “HN does not organize large amounts of copyright-protected works” by means of a counter-example. I think you may be reading things between my lines that aren’t there.

I am, and always have been, calm on this matter. I don’t find the situation scary in any way. I simply enjoy exploring the logical consequences of various lines of thought through the medium of writing, even to the point of playing the devil’s advocate for the purpose of a more thorough exploration of the various issues.

I’m really not sure where my opinions lie on this one, so I’ve been free-wheeling a bit more than usual. I’d like to apologize if my mental wandering caused you any distress. It was not intended.


I'm not upset. Sorry if I'm coming off that way.

It's just that there's a big disconnect between what people have read out of the article regarding it's applicability and what remedies actually flow out of it.

Hence the ...so what?

Large sites will have a tool like photoDNA or ContentID to be able to flag works so you can't do something like repeatedly upload something like Aquaman an hour after release. That's reasonable. With respect to a site like HN, it's highly probable the entire article literally has zero impact, unless people take to posting book chapters in comments constantly (and if that happened, you'd expect they should take action in some way).

The proportionality requirement alone alleviates almost EVERY concern people are bringing up. I don't think the legislation is perfect, but it's pretty good, fairly clear, and very easily suited to judicial interpretation to create fair results in unanticipated situations.


Comments are copyrighted works uploaded by the users of HN. HN organizes and promotes comments. There are certainly a large amount of these comments. Profit motive of HN is uncertain, but it may receive payment for jobs ads? And it certainly operates as part of a for-profit organization.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: