Archive for the ‘EU’ Category

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Italy flag When the EU voted for mandatory copyright censorship of the internet in September, Italy had a different government; the ensuing Italian elections empowered a new government, who oppose the filters.

Once states totalling 35% of the EU’s population oppose the new Copyright Directive, they can form a “blocking minority” and kill it or cause it to be substantially refactored. With the Italians opposing the Directive because of its draconian new internet rules (rules introduced at the last moment, which have been hugely controversial), the reputed opponents of the Directive have now crossed the 35% threshold, thanks to Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium and Hungary.

Unfortunately, the opponents of Article 11 (the “link tax”) and Article 13 (the copyright filters) are not united on their opposition — they have different ideas about what they would like to see done with these provisions. If they pull together, that could be the end of these provisions.

If you’re a European this form will let you contact your MEP quickly and painlessly and let them know how you feel about the proposals.

That’s where matters stand now: a growing set of countries who think copyright filters and link taxes go too far, but no agreement yet on rejecting or fixing them.

The trilogues are not a process designed to resolve such large rifts when both the EU states and the parliament are so deeply divided.

What happens now depends entirely on how the members states decide to go forward: and how hard they push for real reform of Articles 13 and 11. The balance in that discussion has changed, because Italy changed its position. Italy changed its position because Italians spoke up. If you reach out to your countries’ ministry in charge of copyright, and tell them that these Articles are a concern to you, they’ll start paying attention too. And we’ll have a chance to stop this terrible directive from becoming terrible law across Europe.

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european parliament 2018 logo New rules on audiovisual media services will apply to broadcasters, and also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms

MEPs voted on updated rules on audiovisual media services covering children protection, stricter rules on advertising, and a requirement 30% European content in video-on-demand.

Following the final vote on this agreement, the revised legislation will apply to broadcasters, but also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube or Facebook, as well as to live streaming on video-sharing platforms.

The updated rules will ensure:

  • Enhanced protection of minors from violence, hatred, terrorism and harmful advertising

Audiovisual media services providers should have appropriate measures to combat content inciting violence, hatred and terrorism, while gratuitous violence and pornography will be subject to the strictest rules. Video-sharing platforms will now be responsible for reacting quickly when content is reported or flagged by users as harmful.

The legislation does not include any automatic filtering of uploaded content, but, at the request of the Parliament, platforms need to create a transparent, easy-to-use and effective mechanism to allow users to report or flag content.

The new law includes strict rules on advertising, product placement in children’s TV programmes and content available on video-on-demand platforms. EP negotiators also secured a personal data protection mechanism for children, imposing measures to ensure that data collected by audiovisual media providers are not processed for commercial use, including for profiling and behaviourally targeted advertising.

  • Redefined limits of advertising

Under the new rules, advertising can take up a maximum of 20% of the daily broadcasting period between 6.00 and 18.00, giving the broadcaster the flexibility to adjust their advertising periods. A prime-time window between 18:00 and 0:00 was also set out, during which advertising will only be allowed to take up a maximum of 20% of broadcasting time.

  • 30% of European content on the video-on-demand platforms’ catalogues

In order to support the cultural diversity of the European audiovisual sector, MEPs ensured that 30% of content in the video-on-demand platforms’ catalogues should be European.

Video-on-demand platforms are also asked to contribute to the development of European audiovisual productions, either by investing directly in content or by contributing to national funds. The level of contribution in each country should be proportional to their on-demand revenues in that country (member states where they are established or member states where they target the audience wholly or mostly).

The legislation also includes provisions regarding accessibility, integrity of a broadcaster’s signal, strengthening regulatory authorities and promoting media competences.

Next steps

The deal still needs to be formally approved by the Council of EU ministers before the revised law can enter into force. Member States have 21 months after its entry into force to transpose the new rules into national legislation.

The text was adopted by 452 votes against 132, with 65 abstentions.

Article 6a

A new section has been added to the AVMS rules re censorship

  1. Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction which may impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors are only made available in such a way as to ensure that minors will not normally hear or see them. Such measures may include selecting the time of the broadcast, age verification tools or other technical measures. They shall be proportionate to the potential harm of the programme. The most harmful content, such as gratuitous violence and pornography, shall be subject to the strictest measures.

  2. Personal data of minors collected or otherwise generated by media service providers pursuant to paragraph 1 shall not be processed for commercial purposes, such as direct marketing, profiling and behaviourally targeted advertising.

  3. Member States shall ensure that media service providers provide sufficient information to viewers about content which may impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors. For this purpose, media service providers shall use a system describing the potentially harmful nature of the content of an audiovisual media service. For the implementation of this paragraph, Member States shall encourage the use of co – regulation as provided for in Article 4a(1).

  4. The Commission shall encourage media service providers to exchange best practices on co – regulatory codes of conduct . Member States and the Commission may foster self – regulation, for the purposes of this Article, through Union codes of conduct as referred to in Article 4a(2).

Article 4a suggests possible organisation of the censors assigned to the task, eg state censors, state controlled organisations eg Ofcom, or nominally state controlled co-regulators like the defunct ATVOD.

Article 4a(3). notes that censorial countries like the UK are free to add further censorship rules of their own:

Member States shall remain free to require media service providers under their jurisdiction to comply with more detailed or stricter rules in compliance with this Directive and Union law, including where their national independent regulatory authorities or bodies conclude that any code of conduct or parts thereof h ave proven not to be sufficiently effective. Member States shall report such rules to the Commission without undue delay. ;

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sweden pc censors Sweden’s Advert Censor (RO) has criticized a Stockholm company for sexism after it used a popular meme alongside a recruitment advert.The image, known by online communities as the Distracted Boyfriend Meme, is based on a stock photo of a man turning away from his appalled girlfriend to look at an attractive woman. Swedish ISP Bahnhof used the image alongside a jobs advert; in their take on the meme, the boyfriend was turning away from your current workplace to stare at Bahnhof.

The censor claimed that the use of the meme was gender-discriminatory, both due to presenting women as interchangeable and sex objects and presenting a stereotypical picture of men seeing women as interchangeable. Saying that it seems a little discriminatory to stereotype men as always seeing women as interchangeable.

The original posts shared to Bahnhof’s Facebook and Instagram pages received hundreds of comments. Many of these criticized the alleged sexism of the image, and the advert was reported to the advert censor.

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european commission logo Tech companies that fail to remove terrorist content quickly could soon face massive fines. The European Commission proposed new rules on Wednesday that would require internet platforms to remove illegal terror content within an hour of it being flagged by national authorities. Firms could be fined up to 4% of global annual revenue if they repeatedly fail to comply.Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and YouTube owner Google (GOOGL) had already agreed to work with the European Union on a voluntary basis to tackle the problem. But the Commission said that progress has not been sufficient.

A penalty of 4% of annual revenue for 2017 would translate to $4.4 billion for Google parent Alphabet and $1.6 billion for Facebook.

The proposal is the latest in a series of European efforts to control the activities of tech companies.

The terror content proposal needs to be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states before becoming law.

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European Parliament logo The European Parliament has voted to approve new copyright powers enabling the big media industry to control how their content is used on the internet.Article 11 introduces the link tax which lets news companies control how their content is used. The target of the new law is to make Google pay newspapers for its aggregating Google News service. The collateral damage is that millions of websites can now be harangued for linking to and quoting articles, or even just sharing links to them.

Article 13 introduces the requirements for user content sites to create censorship machines that pre-scan all uploaded content and block anything copyrighted. The original proposal, voted on in June, directly specified content hosts use censorship machines (or filters as the EU prefers to call them). After a cosmetic rethink since June, the law no longer specifies automatic filters, but instead specifies that content hosts are responsible for copyright published. And of course the only feasible way that content hosts can ensure they are not publishing copyrighted material is to use censorship machines anyway. The law was introduced, really with just the intention of making YouTube and Facebook pay more for content from the big media companies. The collateral damage to individuals and small businesses was clearly of no concern to the well lobbied MEPs.

Both articles will introduce profound new levels of censorship to all users of the internet, and will also mean that there will reduced opportunities for people to get their contributions published or noticed on the internet. This is simply because the large internet companies are commercial organisations and will always make decisions with costs and profitability in mind. They are not state censors with a budget to spend on nuanced decision making. So the net outcome will be to block vast swathes of content being uploaded just in case it may contain copyright.

An example to demonstrate the point is the US censorship law, FOSTA. It requires content hosts to block content facilitating sex trafficking. Internet companies generally decided that it was easier to block all adult content rather than to try and distinguish sex trafficking from non-trafficking sex related content. So sections of websites for dating and small ads, personal services etc were shut down overnight.

The EU however has introduced a few amendments to the original law to slightly lessen the impact an individuals and small scale content creators.

  • Article 13 will now only apply to platforms where the main purpose …is to store and give access to the public or to stream significant amounts of copyright protected content uploaded / made available by its users and that optimise content and promotes for profit making purposes .
  • When defining best practices for Article 13, special account must now be taken of fundamental rights, the use of exceptions and limitations. Special focus should also be given to ensuring that the burden on SMEs remain appropriate and that automated blocking of content is avoided (effectively an exception for micro/small businesses). Article 11 shall not extend to mere hyperlinks, which are accompanied by individual words (so it seems links are safe, but quoted snippets of text must be very short) and the protection shall also not extend to factual information which is reported in journalistic articles from a press publication and will therefore not prevent anyone from reporting such factual information .
  • Article 11 shall not prevent legitimate private and non-commercial use of press publications by individual users .
  • Article 11 rights shall expire 5 years after the publication of the press publication. This term shall be calculated from the first day of January of the year following the date of publication. The right referred to in paragraph 1 shall not apply with retroactive effect .
  • Individual member states will now have to decide how Article 11 is implemented, which could create some confusion across borders.

At the same time, the EU rejected the other modest proposals to help out individuals and small creators:

  • No freedom of panorama. When we take photos or videos in public spaces, we’re apt to incidentally capture copyrighted works: from stock art in ads on the sides of buses to t-shirts worn by protestors, to building facades claimed by architects as their copyright. The EU rejected a proposal that would make it legal Europe-wide to photograph street scenes without worrying about infringing the copyright of objects in the background.
  • No user-generated content exemption, which would have made EU states carve out an exception to copyright for using excerpts from works for criticism, review, illustration, caricature, parody or pastiche.

A final round of negotiation with the EU Council and European Commission is now due to take place before member states make a decision early next year. But this is historically more of a rubber stamping process and few, if any, significant changes are expected.

However, anybody who mistakenly thinks that Brexit will stop this from impacting the UK should be cautious. Regardless of what the EU approves, the UK might still have to implement it, and in any case the current UK Government supports many of the controversial new measures.

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the rise of machines 2018 The European Parliament has approved a disgraceful copyright law that threatens to destroy the internet as we know it.The rulehands more power to news and record companies against Internet giants like Google and Facebook. But it also allows companies to make sweeping blocks of user-generated content, such as internet memes or reaction GIFs that use copyrighted material. The tough approach could spell the end for internet memes, which typically lay text over copyrighted photos or video from television programmes, films, music videos and more.

MEPs voted 438 in favour of the measures, 226 against, with 39 abstentions. The vote introduced Articles 11 and 13 to the directive, dubbed the link tax and censorship machines.

Article 13 puts the onus of policing for copyright infringement on the websites themselves. This forces web giants like YouTube and Facebook to scan uploaded content to stop the unlicensed sharing of copyrighted material. If the internet companies find that such scanning does not work well, or makes the service unprofitable, the companies could pull out of allowing users to post at all on topics where the use of copyright material is commonplace.

The second amendment to the directive, Article 11, is intended to give publishers and newspapers a way to make money when companies like Google link to their stories.Search engines and online platforms like Twitter and Facebook will have to pay a license to link to news publishers when quoting portions of text from these outlets.

Following Wednesday’s vote, EU lawmakers will now take the legislation to talks with the European Commission and the 28 EU countries.

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eff machine 0300x0150In exactly one week, the European Parliament will hold a crucial debate and vote on a proposal so terrible , it can only be called an extinction-level event for the Internet as we know it.

At issue is the text of the new EU Copyright Directive, which updates the 17-year-old copyright regulations for the 28 member-states of the EU. It makes a vast array of technical changes to EU copyright law, each of which has stakeholders rooting for it, guaranteeing that whatever the final text says will become the law of the land across the EU.

The Directive was pretty uncontroversial, right up to the day last May when the EU started enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a seismic event that eclipsed all other Internet news for weeks afterward. On that very day, a German MEP called Axl Voss quietly changed the text of the Directive to reintroduce two long-discarded proposals — “Article 11” and “Article 13” — proposals that had been evaluated by the EU’s own experts and dismissed as dangerous and unworkable.

Under Article 11 — the ” link tax ” — online services are banned from allowing links to news services on their platforms unless they get a license to make links to the news; the rule does not define “news service” or “link,” leaving 28 member states to make up their own definitions and leaving it to everyone else to comply with 28 different rules.

Under Article 13 — the ” censorship machines ” — anyone who allows users to communicate in public by posting audio, video, stills, code, or anything that might be copyrighted — must send those posts to a copyright enforcement algorithm. The algorithm will compare it to all the known copyrighted works (anyone can add anything to the algorithm’s database) and censor it if it seems to be a match.

These extreme, unworkable proposals represent a grave danger to the Internet. The link tax means that only the largest, best-funded companies will be able to offer a public space where the news can be discussed and debated. The censorship machines are a gift to every petty censor and troll (just claim copyright in an embarrassing recording and watch as it disappears from the Internet!), and will add hundreds of millions to the cost of operating an online platform, guaranteeing that Big Tech’s biggest winners will never face serious competition and will rule the Internet forever.

That’s terrible news for Europeans, but it’s also alarming for all the Internet’s users, especially Americans.

The Internet’s current winners — Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Amazon — are overwhelmingly American, and they embody the American regulatory indifference to surveillance and privacy breaches.

But the Internet is global, and that means that different regions have the power to export their values to the rest of the world. The EU has been a steady source of pro-privacy, pro-competition, public-spirited Internet rules and regulations, and European companies have a deserved reputation for being less prone to practicing ” surveillance capitalism ” and for being more thoughtful about the human impact of their services.

In the same way that California is a global net exporter of lifesaving emissions controls for vehicles, the EU has been a global net exporter of privacy rules, anti-monopoly penalties, and other desperately needed corrections for an Internet that grows more monopolistic, surveillant, and abusive by the day.

Many of the cheerleaders for Articles 11 and 13 talk like these are a black eye for Google and Facebook and other U.S. giants, and it’s true that these would result in hundreds of millions in compliance expenditures by Big Tech, but it’s money that Big Tech (and only Big Tech) can afford to part with. Europe’s much smaller Internet companies need not apply.

It’s not just Europeans who lose when the EU sells America’s tech giants the right to permanently rule the Internet: it’s everyone, because Europe’s tech companies, co-operatives, charities, and individual technologists have the potential to make everyone’s Internet experience better. The U.S. may have a monopoly on today’s Internet, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on good ideas about how to improve tomorrow’s net.

The global Internet means that we have friends and colleagues and family all over the world. No matter where you are in the world today, please take ten minutes to get in touch with two friends in the EU , send them this article, and then ask them to get in touch with their MEPs by visiting Save Your Internet .

Take Action

There’s only one Internet and we all live on it. Europeans rose up to kill ACTA , the last brutal assault on Internet freedom, helping Americans fight our own government’s short-sighted foolishness; now the rest of the world can return the favor to our friends in the EU.