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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Copyright: Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee and other luminaries of the Internet mobilize


The EU is only days away from a crucial vote that could fundamentally transform the Internet as we know it today. On 20 and 21 June, the European Parliament will take a decision on the latest proposal in the framework of the EU copyright reform. The EU Council has already voted by adopting at the end of May a text that forces internet platforms to implement censorship machines, since they should automatically filter the content posted by their users for fear of being sanctioned. In addition to this, member state governments have adopted an internet link tax that will allow press publishers to be paid by online platforms for reproducing press releases or making them available to the public.

Article 13 of the reform (on the automatic filtering of online content) is the most contested. But after many months of discussions on the EU copyright directive, it has not been removed or improved. Theoretically, there is still hope for the defenders of digital freedoms. On 20 and 21 June, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament will vote on the proposal. If it opposes filtering downloads, the fight can continue in the subsequent negotiations of Parliament with the Council and the European Commission. If not, automatic filtering of all downloaded content may become mandatory for all user content platforms serving European users.
Just one week away from this crucial vote, a group of more than 70 Internet and IT luminaries are mobilizing against the requirement for Internet platforms to automatically filter content posted by their users. This group includes Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, the World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the Mozilla Mitchell Baker project, the founder of the Internet Archive Brewster Kahle, the cryptography expert Bruce Schneier, and net neutrality expert Tim Wu.
"By requiring Internet platforms to automatically filter all content uploaded by their users, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards transforming the Internet, from an open platform of sharing and innovation into a monitoring tool. and automated control of its users ", they pronounced in a joint letter published on June 12 and addressed to the president of the European Parliament. "We accept the consideration of measures that would improve the remuneration of creators for the use of their works online, but we can not support Article 13, which would require Internet platforms to integrate an automated surveillance and censorship infrastructure. For the future of the Internet, we ask you to vote for the removal of this proposal, "they added.
They believe that this law will pose few obstacles to larger platforms such as YouTube (YouTube already uses its Content ID system to filter content), but it will create a costly barrier to entry for small platforms and startups; the latter may then choose to establish or move their operations abroad in order to avoid European law. This could therefore strengthen the dominant position of the largest platforms in Europe.
Another problem that will arise is that with the automatic filtering of content posted online, users will see that their contributions (video, audio, text and even source code) will be monitored and potentially blocked if the automated system detects what it thinks it is a violation of copyright. However, inevitably, errors will occur, since there is no way for an automated system to reliably determine when the use of a copyrighted work falls within a limitation or an exception of copyright under European law, such as a quote or parody. In short, many "harmless" uses of protected works in Internet memes or remixes, for example, will be technically illegal. And if an automated system is to monitor and eliminate these technical infringements, the permitted scope of freedom of expression in Europe will be radically reduced, even in the absence of substantial copyright changes.
To avoid this situation, these pioneers and important figures of the Internet and the computer industry invite the Europeans to participate in a campaign which aims to alert their representatives to the dangers of Article 13 of the reform of the Internet. EU copyright.

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