Hacker News new | more | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
EU Copyright Directive is a catastrophe for free expression and competition (eff.org)
241 points by manigandham 38 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 96 comments

I wish that the EFF would include links to the updated directive. The latest I can find is the language as of 2018-05-25 (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/35373/st09134-en18.pdf) which doesn't contain the terms "commercial platforms", "news site" or link. It does leave the definition of "unsubstantial parts" up to member states, which is indeed worrying from a single market perspective.

Furthermore, that wording contradicts EFF's assertion for article 13 that unlicensed content is not allowed to appear, "even for an instant." Since all that is needed to avoid liability is to perform effective and proportionate efforts to prevent availability and to react expeditiously upon notification. Proportionality and effectiveness explicitly depend on the size of the content provider: a new streaming video service would explicitly need to do less than YouTube. Has the updated documentation explicitly removed the provision about expeditious action upon notification? Because the exception proves the rule (the rule being that unlicensed content is indeed allowed to appear for more than an instant).

So... links to spam commissioners but no links to verify that EFF is presenting a fair reading of the updated documents.

This is a much better update: https://juliareda.eu/2019/01/article-13-almost-finished/

It describes the changes and why they will/will not work

That is indeed. Thank you for that.

Instead of requiring filtering on behalf of rightsholders that refuse to license to platforms (an asymmetric relationship that just increases costs for one party), I wish that the EU would legislate FRAND style royalties.

As in, if you want copyright protection then you have to issue Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory licenses to any platform that may want to host the content. Don't want to issue such a license? Then the EU won't help you protect your work. In that way a platform could just host the content using a central database and performing deduplication instead of using the same central database to forbid viewing. Rightsholders would get royalties by virtue of the license agreement, EU would spend less money policing copyright since there would be many more legal avenues to access content.

It's alarming that there appears to be no provision for fair use of copyrighted materials. I'm not in the EU, but that would seem to be a grave oversight.

One can imagine an image or any copyrightable material which might become offensive or embarrassing might get copyrighted so as to in effect censor the material.

Hm, well, education is an exception already, but political speech and comedy are not enumerated as exceptions. (Though I guess these things will be decided by the Courts eventually, as the Directive is about proportional remuneration).

Also, the proposal leaves intact other Directives, and it'll take a bit of work to figure out if all of these are in harmony, or if there's a conflict between the rules. (And if there which one prevails.)

"Except in the cases referred to in Article 6, this Directive shall leave intact and shall in no way affect existing rules laid down in the Directives currently in force in this area, in particular Directives 96/9/EC, 2001/29/EC, 2006/115/EC, 2009/24/EC, 2012/28/EU and 2014/26/EU."

for example 2001/29/EC is the WIPO copyright treaty [ratification] directive, which already protects political speech and parody/caricature. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Directive#Exceptions... )

There is no direct equivalent in EU law to the general "fair use" provisions in the US. Indeed, the US provisions are somewhat controversial, because arguably they don't meet the requirements of the main umbrella international agreements for intellectual property.

The closest equivalent in Europe would be something like the fair dealing provisions here in England and their counterparts in other member states, but those tend to enumerate specific scenarios where copying may be lawful without the permission of the copyright holder, rather than the US approach of specifying a small number of general principles and leaving it to the courts to resolve any specific case.

I'd be surprised, if this whole situation didn't already happen with Youtube and DMCA (I know the real law does leave such provisions but current system of DMCA takedowns is still used in this manner).

Action was already taken when large-scale government interference of the internet was cheered on in the past. Since taking the bad with the good of a less-regulated internet wasn't acceptable, we now have to take the bad with the good of a more-regulated internet. Ideally we could have nuance where things work the way they're intended and overreach of power to add legislation wasn't continually leveraged. But reality has shown us it doesn't work that way.

Ok, so what can those of us not in Sweden, Germany, Poland or Belgium do?

Go to the article. Click on the button for your country to take action.

you might want to read my question again - I am not a citizen of these countries.


> If you live in the rest of Europe: please contact the ministers working on the Copyright in the Digital Single Market directive. We'll update this page with more information as we get it.

What about those of us who don't live in Europe?

Are you asking how can you influence law making in a country that you're not a citizen of?

Yes, because it effects me, and I am morally opposed to this position.


Or any nation state interacting with another?

Seems like you're trying to be edgy and political, but non-citizens advocating for change happens frequently.

You contact your country's foreign intelligence agency.

Or foreign trade representative agency. There are above-board ways to handle this too.

Block EU IPs if you are running a niche service with UGC. EU internet is cable TV basically now + illegal stuff outside of law enforcement reach

To get around the linking to news sites problem, couldn't search engines just not provide ANY links to news sites? Who defines what a "news" site is? Is there a strict definition? Anybody with a website? If it's something I have not read or known before, it's "news" to me no matter how old or from where.

That's what Google did in Germany when a "have a contract with news sites" law went into effect. It didn't take long before Google got free access to all German news sites.

Spain learned from this and make a minimum compensation mandatory. Since then Google News hasn't been available in Spain.

So now they're making a third attempt to make Google pay for sending business to news site. The result will probably be the same though.

I wonder whyI always get downvoted into oblivion for stating that which to me is an obvious fact: The EU is too far removed from reality to legislate. It now has a long and sordid history of over-doing things to the extreme.

In Denmark, we've had 'cinnamon patrols' go from bakery to bakery to verify that only the allowed amount of cinnamon was sprinkled on buns.

We had what felt like a complete shutdown of IT departments in the months leading up to the GDPR because, again, it was overreaching and too vague. (the idea was good though)

I could write a list much longer, but in general I think the Unix approach works: Many small things that each do one thing well. The EU is the opposite: One giant thing which does nothing well - If for no other reason, than the distance from the Parliament to a wooden cabin on the mountains of norway is just too great for them to regulate that cabin in great detail, but still this is what they attempt to do. And now, down to each word on each and every webpage accesible from the EU.

>I wonder whyI always get downvoted into oblivion for stating that which to me is an obvious fact

Well when you write obviously non factual nonsense like

>The EU is the opposite: One giant thing which does nothing well

You tend to get downvoted. When you write hilarious nonsense like this

>In Denmark, we've had 'cinnamon patrols' go from bakery to bakery to verify that only the allowed amount of cinnamon was sprinkled on buns.

And imply its the EU's fault, you get downvoted.

It seems like the cinnamon patrol comment is related to this, which does seem to indicate the interpretation of an EU law is to blame:


It seems like the EU explicitly made it so the cinnamon rolls wouldn't be affected:

> The EU's regulations on a common type of cinnamon called cassia limit how much bakers can use: 50 milligrams per kilogram of dough, if it's a traditional or seasonal pastry, or 15 milligrams per kilogram if it's just a regular old everyday pastry.

But the Denmark decided their traditional seasonal pastry was an everyday one

> This particular kerfuffle comes because the Danish food authority recently classified kanelsnegler, or cinnamon rolls, as an everyday pastry

So really this is the "fault" of the Danish government, isn't it?

Source for quotes: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/12/eu-worrie...

Can you please explain to me why anyone on the face of this earth would want their government deciding how to classify types of pastry in order to determine how much cinnamon people are allowed to use?

It kind of sounds like the issue is that outside of safety regulations someone told some petty tyrant that they got to decide how to classify pastry so of course they decided to classify it in such a way as to require action and importance on their own part at the expense of everyone's inconvenience.

I suspect the proper fix is to fire everyone in that department and start over.

Because they have reason to beleive it can cause liver damage?

Most countries have a body regulating what you can eat that will do it's best to stop you from ingesting dangerous amounts of, well, anything.

But a "kanelsnegl" is an everyday pastry in Denmark.

But it didn't use to be? From the article it sounds like it used to be a "traditional pastry"

I'm glad you find it hillarious. You must not be paying for it.

For anybody following along, this kind of garbage rhetoric is exactly how Brexit started.

1. Spread misinformation and sow discontent against the EU

2. ???

3. Profit

I think this formulation is a bit more accurate:

1. Mention an obscure irritant that is superficially not the EU's fault, and blame the EU for it

2. EU supporters pile on and say that this is what all anti-EU arguments are like

3. When examined in more detail, the irritant actually IS the EU's fault

4. People then accept #2 as true, and hate the EU more (since apparently if they examined all the obvious BS about the EU more closely, they'd find it to be true)

I might not put things in quite such confrontational terms, but the general complaint some people are making here is valid. The EU does have a track record of taking on technical issues without adequately understanding them and so legislating with perhaps good intentions but not always good results. This has caused significant damage to many organisations because of (presumably) unintended side effects, and obviously that does then have a chilling effect on things like investment plans and even whether to start new businesses at all.

So do all governments. It's just easier to hate the EU

So do all governments.

That's true, but not all governments do it with the same ratio of genuine benefit to unwanted side-effects and collateral damage.

Of course I'm not paying for it.

We don't have cinnamon patrols in my EU country, it sounds like the silliest thing in the world.

>You tend to get downvoted. When you write hilarious nonsense like this

Can you name anything the EU has done well?

Forced an end to high roaming charges for within-EU mobile usage and forbade charging for receiving SMS while abroad.

Removed internal borders, so you can travel from Denmark to Spain without 5 border crossings.

Created a common market, so you can order an item from a German web shop as a Belgium citizen without hurdles.

Made war between European countries economically unattractive because economies are closely intertwined.

It forced my government to break national monopoly on internet access, bringing ASDL prices down from $265 month to just $8.

"Europe is still the closest thing to paradise on Earth"


It's from 2012, but the vast majority of what's said there is still true.

Europe is however more likely than the US is to get bad quickly. It became a bad place to live for example from 1914 through 1918 and then again from 1939 through 1945 with, e.g., shortages of food and other life essentials while the US remained OK unless you were in the small fraction of the population that got drafted into the US military (and even then you would not have endured food shortages).

Although the creation of the EU was motivated in large part to prevent the recurrence of that sort of badness, the EU does not have the power to restrain the militaries of the individual European countries. Note that the EU was shown not to have the power to compel the Italian government that came to power because of the general election of March 2018 to adhere to EU regulations on deficit spending.

War within the EU is really really unlikely. A successful part of the EEC/EU is integrating the economies of its countries to such an extend that war becomes economically un-viable.

Nowadays war between France and Germany is close to as absurd a thought as a war between Calafornia and Texas is. It's not remotely comparable to 1900-1950.

Russia is the largest threat for European countries, but currently an attack on a NATO member seems unlikely.

That's what experts were saying before 1914, too: war is really unlikely because the economies are more integrated than they have ever been.

This is patently false. Theme in pre-1914 continental European press was monarchies struggling with independence movements, question of next Franc-Prussian conflict (because everybody was certain that peace between those two can't hold), and stability of Russian empire (that was at time engaged in bloody war with Japanese while being shaken by internal tensions).

Inter-war period was hardly one of economical integration, considered that most of European countries were engaged in economic war with other - eg. Poland had no economic exchange with its neighbours.

Tensions were very high in early 20th century Europe. If you're honestly saying this you either have not read history books on the era, or you know something very scary about Merkel that I don't.

[Citation needed]

There was no such thing as a European Union in WWI and II, which the discussion is about. That's why I don't understand how your comment is relevant here.

First there was no EU neither in 1914 nor in 1939.

Second, the US were not a nice place to live in 1861, while Europe was. Time changes.

first Google hit for EU accomplishments: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/6-things-the-eu-has-a...

allowed for unproppeled growth across europe? The internal market is a massive advantage.

Also, throwing it weight around on the geopolitical stage has been proven more then useful for european nations, compared to getting picked off by either china/USA/Russia.

Its generally improved the economies of its 28 member states and the standards of living for over half a billion people.


> In Denmark, we've had 'cinnamon patrols' go from bakery to bakery to verify that only the allowed amount of cinnamon was sprinkled on buns.

So your government decided to go overboard with enforcement (instead of classifying cinnamon buns as a traditional good and exempt, like the Swedish did, if those are a big issue in Denmark) and that's purely the EU's fault? (Or did they did not go overboard and regular food safety inspections with one more thing to test on the list got styled as "cinnamon patrols"?)

The EU certainly has very far reach and goes into pedantic detail, which isn't always good, but states love to redirect annoyance at their crap implementation on it. That's still partially a problem with it, but still annoys me.

> In Denmark, we've had 'cinnamon patrols' go from bakery to bakery to verify that only the allowed amount of cinnamon was sprinkled on buns.

Is this for real? I know it's anecdotal but I find it hilarious

> I could write a list much longer, but in general I think the Unix approach works: Many small things that each do one thing well. The EU is the opposite: One giant thing which does nothing well

Well...I'm sure many could point out somethings that the EU has done well...I guess at the heart of regulating cinnamon buns is the issue of standards...that specific instance is probably an overkill but having a common standard of electrical equipment produced/imported to the EU makes sense...at the very least you could argue that some member states have benefited considerably although that may not necessarily be attributable to EU policy

Yeah I'm afraid the example is quite real.

But sure, example could be dug up of good things the EU have done. But even in those cases the cost is much too great.

For instance, they built a really nice hallway at the Parliament, but when it came time to name it, they assigned 76 diplomats and the president of the EU to work through the name. That alone ended up costing something like 11 million euros.

I can't think of anything they've done, which hasn't resulted in millions of taxpayers money being poured down the drain. Not surprisingly, the EU has the lowest growth rate in the world.

> Not surprisingly, the EU has the lowest growth rate in the world.

What would be the growth rate without the single market?

Competition breeds excellence

The EU is big enough to compete with the US and China.

Without the EU, the UK is about as big as California.

>For instance, they built a really nice hallway at the Parliament, but when it came time to name it, they assigned 76 diplomats and the president of the EU to work through the name. That alone ended up costing something like 11 million euros.

Citation please? I can't find anything about that online, and I'd expect that to be a scandal that'd be easily found!

Yeah. Remove EU and I'm sure Russia will be happy to take over your little countries.

Individually European countries are pretty weak. They're only strong as a common entity.

Pretty sure NATO would survive the dismantling of some bureaucracy.

> Pretty sure NATO would survive the dismantling of some bureaucracy.

Then that's the next Brexit target, innit? Gin up some "grassroots" support for leaving that Mean Nasty NATO What Is Bad And Mean and just never you mind that the original talking points were translated from the Russian.

We know the Russians are working to dismantle everything on the European continent which could counterbalance their ambitions. NATO isn't any more immune than the EU is.

NATO is military pact. EU has economic advantages for member states like single market and trade union (so you can't create trade agreement in WTO sense with single EU member).

Also, the EU has a common defence clause aswell, so all EU member states are practically under the same defence umberella, even if they aren't into NATO.

Will it? Trump is already discussing how to step down

Divide and conquer, one of the oldest strategies. Yes, I'm sure "countries can defend themselves alone" yup, right

The EU is not the only thing keeping Europe from being deaf and blind, and Russia has much better targets than most of the EU if it was going to take expansion risks. This is needless fearmongering.

Not sure why you can't have an alliance among smaller countries without all the regulations. It seems orthogonal to me.

Why on earth would Russia want to take over Denmark?

Why do any country want to invade other countries?

I think they're after our excess cinnamon

> This particular kerfuffle comes because the Danish food authority recently classified kanelsnegler, or cinnamon rolls, as an everyday pastry


Sounds like this is more of a "Denmark problem" than an "EU problem", unless you think the EU should simply not legislate the use of products that can cause health issues when present in high quantities in food (in this case cinnamon)

How ever does the US survive this cinnamon overdose epidemic?

The reaction to a bad regulation being passed shouldn't be "oh, well, the government can just exempt your specific product from that regulation".

The US regulates Coumarin (which is the actually regulated substance, but commonly found in cinnamon), although differently. (Tonka beans, which contain it in very high quantities, and pure Coumarin aren't allowed to be used in food stuffs, but unlike in the EU there's no limit on the actual content of the end product)

The US are doing many things well, but the quality of their food in general is not really an example to follow.

You know why the EU overregulates? Because EU countries individually overregulate. And you know why that is? Because European people ask for new regulation every single time something goes wrong or might go wrong in the future or is a little bit unfair in some rare cases.

In the UK, we now have a debate about regulating portion sizes of ready meals, because some people are overweight. If you have voters and politicians who will even start to think about regulating this sort of thing, you're bound to end up with massive overregulation.

Sometimes the choice we have is between 28 different ridiculously convoluted and completely unnecessary laws or just one ridiculously convoluted and completely unnecessary law.

Your Unix metaphor is flawed. Countries are not special purpose tools. They don't do different things. They all do largely the same things in slightly different ways. So each country on its own already comes with all the issues that we criticise in monolythic software.

Don’t let the food processing companies derail that discussion. Decreasing portion size will just make people buy two. If anything should be regulated it would be the ingredients allowed in things that are called meals. Specifically sugar.

.. As a dane I completely disagree with this post. The EU is a big machine, and yes some parts of it may seem outdated and or obsolete, and some parts of it may even be so. That's how it is with big things, but it doesn't mean that it's bad, just that we need to keep improving it. I have a really, really hard time understanding people that says we should leave the EU, especially when they hand out the same, or similar examples that you just did.

Beside legislating the amount of cinnamon bakeries use, the EU handles so many important things that a small country like denmark will never have the resources to handle. This in no way means that they are perfect, but work to improve it instead.

We have this big project, it has been running in production for 15 years, it solves a lot of problems, but there are of course some technical debt that we should find the time to improve and fix. In my head you are the new guy telling everyone that we should rewrite it.

which is doubly ridiculous: cinnamon is actually one of the few parts (probably the only) of the cinnamon bun which is good for you: it's high in fiber and has been shown to have numerous health benefits.

As a Dane, I completely agree with this post.

Right to be Forgotten, GDPR, and now this... pretty soon the barrier to entry will be so high that no new players would be able to get off the ground with an internet company in Europe.

Apologies for being dense, but:

a) Regarding the right to be forgotten and GDPR, can't you handle it manually when you're small and automate it when you're big? Complaints should be proportional to the number of users, so it hardly seems like a problem.

b) Article 13 is apparently "a proposal to end the appearance of unlicensed copyrighted works on big user-generated content platforms". I don't know what "big" means, but presumably it excludes "new players" that haven't gotten "off the ground".

It almost seems like we're hell bent on suffocating what little amount of innovation we have left.

I want to open a i-shirt store and I'm in the EU. None of these will prevent me.

Edit: typo... t-shirt

I have no idea what i-shirt is but it's likely that if an user uses copyrighted material for his i-shirt, you'll have to pay because it's your platform. Bonus points for not using a censorship filter in trying to do this.

No UGC will be allowed and the text you add will not be displayed anywhere :)

Ask him again about censorship in the EU when his most popular shirt is "Hitler did nothing wrong" or some other such nonsense.

Try an i-Twitter or an i-Facebook.

very innovative. meanwhile this will likely cost a lot to qwertee

[citation needed]

Right to be Forgotten affects search engines. GDPR is common sense, allow users to delete their data. If you make aggregate data of your users and their behavior then it's not their data anymore.

Tax law is a lot more complicated yet never stopped anyone from innovating if there was an economic niche waiting for them.

Any regulation is a barrier to entry. The more complicated the regulation is, the worse it is for competition.

Of course tax law has stopped people from innovating. It's one of the biggest drains on competition and economic growth. Taxes would be the biggest source of economic efficiency even if they weren't as complex as they are.

It can work the other way too. GDPR is not very complicated and a new actor would have a big advantage in designing their system to be compliant from the start.

GDPR isn't so bad, but it is pretty vague. Holding IP Addresses in server logs may or may not violate GDPR.

IP addresses work pretty well for user discrimination (sure NAT can hide many users, but then there are other signals).

However if you don't store raw logs forever it should be okay.

It’s almost like the EU is a failed experiment and it’s time to dissolve it.

You can count on HN commenters to through oranges, shoes, and candy floss into the same bag and blame all of those disparate things for everything.

This one I do like.

People could diverge from consumption of “data deluge”, and return back in time when we used to have meaningful conversations on a private forums created around a very concrete ideas other than feeding society with ads.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

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