Friday, June 08, 2018
Would the EU's proposed Copyright Directive affect American content creators? Also, Paypal cuts off a service apparently for mere use of P2P which could risk copyright infringement
Electronic Frontier Foundation has two particularly disturbing reports about copyright today.
One of these, by Cory Doctorow, warns about the EU’s pending vote around June 20 on a new copyright policy (“the EU Copyright Directive”), which could be voted on by the countries between July and September. Interpreted literally, platforms would have to scan all user generated content for copyright infringement against a known database before posting. The article says that the service that would be most affected is Wikipedia.
Google actually does screen YouTube videos against known digital watermarks for possible infringement. I generally will not embed videos that look like they are illegal copies (although whether that could lead to liability for me is unclear – a case in NY says maybe, Feb. 17 post).
Theoretically, any social media or blog posting that is only text would have to be screened, which would seem to catch the poster’s own self-published work. Some sources question whether screening itself is mandatory, and there may be a "moderator's paradox" with this law in the EU, just as there is with FOSTA in the US.
The article mentions the proposed “link taxes” and gets into a discussion of link licensing, which makes no sense in the US (except for that NY case maybe) – generally (since a court opinion in 2000) a link has been viewed as like a bibliographic footnote. The tax might be limited to links that actually quote the material inline; but a license might have to come from each EU country. In practice, it seems that publishers can simply put up paywalls if they don't want free linking. I've long said that large social media companies like Facebook ought to be able to sell consolidated paywall access to readers.
In the US, DMCA Safe Harbor is supposed to take care of this sort of thing (however imperfectly).
But it is also unclear whether this would matter to Internet posters in the U.S., or whether American companies would feel compelled to comply (they practically have forced GDPR compliance on American sites out of practicality already – the odd “minority rule” idea in Taleb’s “Skin in the Game” book). Along these lines, Brexit suddenly sounds like a good thing, because I guess the UK is not involved (although the UK is not completely out yet, and countries might have to comply to trade with the EU anyway). Maybe more nationalism paradoxically could protect Internet users from the effects of rules like this.
I had not heard of this threat until today when I checked EFF's site. YouTube already has plenty of Chicken Little videos on this problem.
The other shocker today is an article by Joe Mullin where companies called Arbel and Soulseek found a donation arrangement through PayPal suddenly cut off over a supposed terms of service violation, because the companies were using P2P, which theoretically could facilitate copyright infringement, even though the companies said they did not condone it from their users and were not aware of specific infringements. The article notes that P2P was viewed as a "brand risk" (by Paypal?) This case is rather confusing (EFF tweeted it today) . I have the ability to take credit cards and Paypal on one of my Wordpress sites for my books, but have used it only once. But this raises a whole range of theoretical questions for me to ponder with my own “business model.”