The new EU Copyright Directive and how it threatens this forum


#1

As a citizen of the European Union and contributor to Open Source, I’m following closely the rework of the new copyright directive. @Moorviper pointed me to a great article researched and written by Gina Häußge in the OctoPrint forum which points out why these issues are relevant and matter to us. She kindly allowed us to reuse here content to spread out the word in our community as well.

What this is about

As those of you living in the EU and/or following the news might have heard, the European Union is currently in the process of working out a new copyright directive which among other questionable ideas contains Article 13 (mandatory upload filters for all platforms older than 3 years regardless of size) and Article 11 (link tax aka the “Leistungsschutzrecht” that already failed spectacularly in Germany and Spain). To quote a member of the EU parliament Julia Reda:

Article 13: Upload filters

Parliament negotiator Axel Voss accepted the deal between France and Germany I laid out in a recent blog post:

  • Commercial sites and apps where users can post material must make “best efforts” to preemptively buy licenses for anything that users may possibly upload – that is: all copyrighted content in the world. An impossible feat.
  • In addition, all but very few sites (those both tiny and very new) will need to do everything in their power to prevent anything from ever going online that may be an unauthorized copy of a work that a rightsholder has registered with the platform. They will have no choice but to deploy upload filters , which are by their nature both expensive and error-prone.
  • Should a court ever find their licensing or filtering efforts not fierce enough, sites are directly liable for infringements as if they had committed them themselves. This massive threat will lead platforms to over-comply with these rules to stay on the safe side, further worsening the impact on our freedom of speech.

Article 11: The “link tax”

The final version of this extra copyright for news sites closely resembles the version that already failed in Germany – only this time not limited to search engines and news aggregators, meaning it will do damage to a lot more websites.

  • Reproducing more than “single words or very short extracts” of news stories will require a license. That will likely cover many of the snippets commonly shown alongside links today in order to give you an idea of what they lead to. We will have to wait and see how courts interpret what “very short” means in practice – until then, hyperlinking (with snippets) will be mired in legal uncertainty.
  • No exceptions are made even for services run by individuals, small companies or non-profits, which probably includes any monetized blogs or websites.

The final vote on the directive is supposed to happen on March 26th, so it’s really getting serious now.

And while so far the people backing this directive, most prominently the rapporteur Axel Voss, have denied that filters will be required, they are now finally acknowledging that and other possible severe consequences without shame:

Why this affects this forum

In order to facilitate support and community building, this forum allows uploading files to it: screenshots & log files for problem analysis, pictures in general for show-and-tell. It also allows sharing guides and tutorials with the general public. In a nutshell, it allows sharing copyrighted material, or at the very least potentially copyrighted material.

That means that we either have to figure out a way to enter into license agreements with potential copyright holders of things that might get uploaded here, deploy “state of the art methods” (aka filter algorithms) to detect potential copyright violations right when they happen, as in right on upload AND still risk getting sued - or we have to disable uploads altogether which would pretty much cripple this forum as a hub for getting support and exchanging ideas. And quite frankly, considering limited resources the latter will be the most likely course of action in such a case.

Article 11 won’t have as crippling an effect on the usefulness of this community, but it still will force us to remove link previews.

What you can do to help prevent this

It is not too late yet to stop this madness from happening.

For those of you living in the European Union:

  • Protest in the streets on March 23rd! There are large protests planned across Europe for March 23rd. If you happen to be near one, please consider participating. If not, please consider organizing one! I myself will once again be participating in the protests in Frankfurt - should you be in the neighborhood I’d be happy to shake hands and voice our concerns together!
  • Call your MEPs! Call your members of parliament and tell them that you think that Article 13 threatens platforms such as this one. There’s a website here that even will call you and connect you with an MEP with minimal effort to do just this.
  • Write letters to your MEPs! It’s not too late yet to reach them by snail mail - and at this point, this is probably more effective than sending them emails because some politicians out there claim all of us who are against this nonsense are bots :unamused: Here’s a website that will help you with this.
  • Help sharing this further! In Germany, the protests against this directive have grown large enough that even the mainstream media has finally caught on, but from what I hear from other European countries we are sadly somewhat alone there. So please help spread it further that this is happening and try to organize resistance!

And even if you are not living in the EU, the final point is something you can help with too.

Next steps

The German Wikipedia has decided on a blackout on March 21st in protest against this directive and especially Articles 11 and 13 (see here and here, both in German).

And as already mentioned you can participate in the protest in Frankfurt on March 23rd. We hope to see and hear you in the streets! :fist:


Further reading


#2

This picture was taken at the spontaneous demonstration in Frankfurt am Main on March 5th

It was organized only around 20 hours before and the police spontaneous changed it from a standing demonstration to a walking demonstration through the city :smiley: