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EU Wants To Require Platforms To Filter Uploaded Content (Including Code) (github.com) 110

A new copyright proposal in the EU would require code-sharing platforms like GitHub and SourceForge to monitor all content that users upload for potential copyright infringement. "The proposal is aimed at music and videos on streaming platforms, based on a theory of a 'value gap' between the profits those platforms make from uploaded works and what copyright holders of some uploaded works receive," reports The GitHub Blog. "However, the way it's written captures many other types of content, including code."

Upload filters, also known as "censorship machines," are some of the most controversial elements of the copyright proposal, raising a number of concerns including: -Privacy: Upload filters are a form of surveillance, effectively a "general monitoring obligation" prohibited by EU law
-Free speech: Requiring platforms to monitor content contradicts intermediary liability protections in EU law and creates incentives to remove content
-Ineffectiveness: Content detection tools are flawed (generate false positives, don't fit all kinds of content) and overly burdensome, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that might not be able to afford them or the resulting litigation
Upload filters are especially concerning for software developers given that: -Software developers create copyrightable works -- their code -- and those who choose an open source license want to allow that code to be shared
-False positives (and negatives) are especially likely for software code because code often has many contributors and layers, often with different licensing for different components
-Requiring code-hosting platforms to scan and automatically remove content could drastically impact software developers when their dependencies are removed due to false positives
The EU Parliament continues to introduce new proposals for Article 13 but these issues remain. MEP Julia Reda explains further in a recent proposal from Parliament.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU Wants To Require Platforms To Filter Uploaded Content (Including Code)

Comments Filter:
  • first post (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    $ git push ...
    remote: Resolving deltas: 100% (2/2), completed with 2 local objects.
    remote: error: GH013: Your push could infringe someone's copyright.
    remote: If you believe this is a false positive (e.g., it's yours, open
    remote: source, not copyrightable, subject to exceptions) contact us:
    remote: https://github.com/contact
    remote: We're sorry for interrupting your work, but automated copyright
    remote: filters are mandated by the EU's Article 13.
    To github.com/vollmera/atom.git
    ! [remote rejected] patch-

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seems like just putting up a website that targets the European market violates dozens of laws over there.

    Can't think of a worse place to do business in the new economy.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The internet will just route around the EU censorship.
      People in the EU who want to enjoy some freedom will just use a really great VPN.
      The more EU bureaucrats enforce censorship, the more people in the EU will use US products and services.
  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Thursday March 15, 2018 @07:13PM (#56266851) Journal
    The more freedom after speech in the USA becomes attractive again.
    How did all that censorship work out for the Warsaw Pact nations?
    Keep the population from talking and thinking?
    • Scratch any socialist, and you will find a totalitarian. It can't work any other wa. You more-or-less have to compel people to work against their own interests by coercion or force.

    • You think these upload filter proposals come from within the EU? They come from mostly US based multi nationals (which have a postbox in the EU to avoid taxes). If successful in the EU they will not stop and come after the USA.
      Censorship of the internet is a global problem even if only applied to part of the world.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        The USA staying free protects the entire internet as it always did from EU bureaucrats.
        That would need some US cyber laws to remove the US First Amendment protections.
        Some color of law cyber changes to get around the US First Amendment?
        A series of well funded social media and media lawsuits about the results of US investigative journalism?
        Could enough US party political legal wins using individuals remove the First Amendment protections for the internet and social media?
      • by Teun ( 17872 )
        You are 100% correct.
        Now it is up to the EU population to put their parliamentarians back on track.
        Luckily the EU parliament can propose new laws, they will only be enforced once the EU commission and the member states agree which in this case is very unlikely.

        All in all a more reliable system than where one loony president can (even temporarily) upset the world economy single handed.
  • .... for how, technologically, they are going to make this apparently magic filter?

    Free speech matters aside, what they are wanting to implement is actually technologically impossible without so many false positives as to render the technology utterly useless even at best.

    • by jecowa ( 1152159 )
      Yeah, this seems like a big burden for sites. The EU is has been coming up with lots of ideas for things they want sites to start censoring. Imo, if the EU wants censorship, they should either censor the content themselves or block the sites they don't like. Plenty of other nations have been able to censor the internet on their own (e.g. China, North Korea, Australia).
      • if the EU wants censorship, they should either censor the content themselves or block the sites they don't like

        Both of these actions are likely to be met by very strong opposition from national governments, civil liberty activists as well as the general populace. So instead they make rules that place the burden on websites. Those rules are - by design, I suspect - onerous, strict, with heavy penalties and at the same time vague about where and when they apply. The result is that the larger sites, who can afford smart or manual filters, will apply censorship "voluntarily" in order to remain on the safe side of the

        • by Teun ( 17872 )
          Don't worry, the EU is much bigger than a few MEP's bought by US media interests.
          Additionally, the EU has levels of governing, a single entity like the parliament has only so much influence.
      • For any sites that would be affected by this that don't have a physical presence in the EU, at least they can exercise their free speech right to ignore such a mandate and tell the EU legislators to go fuck themselves.

        • by mark-t ( 151149 )

          As I said, you don't even need free speech rights to ignore this.

          The expectation is well beyond anything that is remotely possible with any technology that exists, anywhere on earth.

          • Ah, but it is much more "delicious" to be able to tell them to fuck off when you do know you have the right to do so, knowing that it is causing theoretical butthurt in those who would seek to suppress your rights but can't because you are out of their jurisdiction. :D

            • by mark-t ( 151149 )

              It's no less delicious to tell them to fuck off because what they are asking for is outside of the realm of what is even physically possible with today's technology.

              Right up there with faster than light travel and transporters.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      These people are politicians. They
      a) think they define reality
      b) have no clue what is actually possible and what is not due to a)

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re "for how, technologically, they are going to make this apparently magic filter?"

      In the EU when a person published their comment on social media?
      The EU approved laws allow a nations government in the EU to start an investigation.
      The ISP details are recovered and the formal police interview starts.

      The person who dared to comment on the news, politics, history has to the prove that they are not guilty to the police and investigators.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by johannesg ( 664142 )

      It doesn't matter. The goal is not to stop copyright infringement; the goal is to stop the free flow of information across the 'unregulated' internet. And that especially includes political information: communication between people who don't approve of the EU, who oppose immigration, etc. So what if the only way to create such a filter is by having a person check every upload? That will mean the goal is reached: instead of being able to freely post ones opinion anywhere, every little piece of 'content' must

    • They do. I read the proposal, and for a start it doesn't say what Github thinks it says. It also doesn't propose any magic filters or even any new tech.

      Most sites that allow user uploads already have some filtering in place for illegal material like known child pornography images. The EU is simply proposing that these existing filters might also be used for known copyright infringing files, which in fact many sites already do anyway.

      Basically they are saying that once an infringing file is identified and checked, its hash would be added to the database to prevent further uploads rather than the copyright holder having to spam copyright claims.

      Personally I'm still opposed to it, but if you read the actual proposal they have done extensive impact assessments and gone to some lengths to ensure that the burden isn't too great.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        That's because they think that tech exists because they don't understand it.... neither do you, apparently, if you think there's any similarity between checking hash similarities on binary files to identify copies or copyright infringement and being able to identify meaningful similarity in computer source code that has any relevance whatsoever to copyright infringement,

        Most code is built up around a relatively small set of patterns, and it is not possible to identify the similarity of two programs that

        • You may have gone off half-cocked there. The workflow is this:

          - UserA uploads copyrighted work
          - Some hours/days/weeks/months later, said upload is identified by a copyright troll/owner, the site is notified
          - Site adds the hash of that file to their "do not upload" database, and remove the file (and all copies of it with the same hash) ...later...
          - UserB uploads the same file UserA uploaded
          - Hashes match, so site refuses the upload immediately

          The idea here is to avoid the 'KimDotCom' thing where he made copy

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          if you think there's any similarity between checking hash similarities on binary files to identify copies or copyright infringement and being able to identify meaningful similarity in computer source code that has any relevance whatsoever to copyright infringement,

          Again, if you bother to read TFA they don't mention computer code at all. This is a draft proposal that is focused on video, photo and music sharing. It's not even a finished proposal yet, let alone a draft law. And there is very little reason to think, based on the text, that it would apply to source code.

          In fact copyright protections for source code and things like encryption keys are weaker in the EU than the US anyway. And Github does regularly process DMCA take-downs, where as EU based sites have far f

        • Code fingerprinting for license compliance is very possible. Have a look at the BlackDuck Hub product https://www.blackducksoftware.... [blackducksoftware.com]; there are others who offer similar services. Their back-end was a heap of non-scaling, my-first-code-project junk but the basic scanning tech worked quite well.

          It'd be a pita, and the idea of EU slowly transforming into another China or Russia in an attempt to stop the extremists its policies are creating is pretty unappealing. But they could make it happen if they were de

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      .... for how, technologically, they are going to make this apparently magic filter?

      Free speech matters aside, what they are wanting to implement is actually technologically impossible without so many false positives as to render the technology utterly useless even at best.

      Neither of these points matter because it'll never get past the Members of the European Parliament.

      The European Union is a democracy, like any democratic body that means anyone can introduce a bill as long as it has one sponsor (with the EU, this doesn't even need to be a MEP). So all kinds of batshit crazy laws can be tabled and in Europe, they're all voted down. This doubly so as the EU isn't as pro-copyright as the US.

  • I'm sure all the clueless myopian companies that are lobbying for and bribing for this sort of legislation not only don't understand the technical problems, but they also probably expect humans to sit there and sift through terabytes of uploads to make sure there isn't a single copyrighted byte anywhere, and they couldn't care less what it costs to do that (so long as someone else foots the bill).
  • Wouldn't it be better to monitor the music and video interests for violations of the various GPL's?

  • I know there's jurisdictional creep, and maybe some large non-EU companies would adhere, but I really doubt the EU has the jurisdictional pull for this to do anything other than hamstring anything to do with hosting in the EU. I guess this is good for non-EU small and mid-sized businesses who will have a huge advantage when not operating in the EU, like the USA or maybe Ukraine. At the same time, I'd rather these quixotic EU bureaucrats not treat their own tech community so badly in the global market.
  • This is what happens when you give the power to regulate to a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats who have no idea how the internet works.

    Sigh!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is what happens when you give the power to regulate to a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats who have no idea how the internet works.

      Sigh!

      They do understand the internet. You do not understand politics.

      This move is nothing to do with preventing the dissemination of copyright-protected material. Instead, it is all about expanding the power and wealth of certain members of the political class. The measure is intentionally flawed so that it may serve as a long-term vector for political growth for certain departments.

      The propoganda that accompanies each power grab exists only to help pass the bill.

  • The meme 'open source', despite everyone and his cat embracing it these days, is still a meme to be eradicated in due time, by those that stand to benefit from its demise. We all know who they are. This is just one move in that grand scheme.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hello, someone who actually works at the European Commission here. The EU in general loves the idea of open source, but they love the idea of 'consumer protection' even more.

      Consumer protection is a fancy way of confusing the protection of citizens rights against large corporations, while simultaneously allowing those corporations to define the laws that protect the citizens.

      This legislations is the EPITOME of the sorts of problems we see in the EC. A good intentioned protection written by 'consumer protect

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Open source code may fall under educational, research and preservation of cultural heritage. In addition, this

    "Member States shall facilitate, where appropriate, the cooperation between the information society service providers and rightholders through stakeholder dialogues to define best practices, such as appropriate and proportionate content recognition technologies, taking into account, among others, the nature of the services, the availability of the technologies and their effectiveness in light of technological developments."

    does not imply this

    "Upload filters, also known as "censorship machines," are some of the most controversial elements of the copyright proposal,"

    necessarily. We are talking about a directive that outlines specific implementations in the member countries. And particularly about the fact that a code sharing service is different from some other kinds of services. Nobody have asked to implement a filter, a license or attribution search tool like an idiot. Yet.

  • [voice=Nigel Farage] It's exactly this kind of nonsense that led to Brexit! [/]

    Well, it might be if the thick sods in Barnsley and the like actually understood two words of it.

  • Perhaps US can negotiate sensibility as part of Tariff talks
    • GMO foods
    • Privacy rules
    • Copywrite
    • ...
  • GitHub and SourceForge are both US-based. Why should they care about the crazy laws our dearest EU politicians make up?

  • Instead of individual countries / regional governments coming up with daft rules on how the internet should operate, how about we recognise that we should have a global body with competence in this area?

  • Nice Post admin. I like the way you write a post, well explained. I will surely share this post. cheers !! from: Ramadan Kareem Wishes [bestramadanwishes.com]
  • Many parts of the eloquently written open source code will probably be used many times... and in proprietary software as well. Check out the source of many of these and you'll find the original comments from the author. Makes me kinda say fuckit with the whole copywrite thing... just want to code, If I find a better way of doing something, even better.

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