back to article UN's freedom of expression top dog slams European copyright plans

The campaign against a key aspect of new European copyright legislation has picked up a significant backer: the United Nations' freedom of expression expert. David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur, has sent a lengthy letter to the European Commission outlining his concerns about Article 13 of the Copyright in the Digital Single …

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Or to put it another way

Big advertising (my sponsors) think that it will be too much hassle to try and stop theft, so we should make it legal. If the law gets put in place the capability will follow as if by magic. If there are no restrictions the man will always say its impossible to implement. As ever, think Mandy Rice-Davies.

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Re: Or to put it another way

"Big advertising (my sponsors) think that it will be too much hassle to try and stop theft, so we should make it legal. Big advertising (my sponsors) think that it will be too much hassle to try and stop theft, so we should make it legal."

Well, firstly copyright infringement is not theft. See here for the difference:

https://youtu.be/IeTybKL1pM4

And secondly its already illegal. This is purely about who has liability for enforcement. And as soon as you make it the companies that are basically jusr pipes to content, then loads of unrelated stuff is going to get censored by special interest groups, governments, etc or simply as collateral damage.

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FAIL

The purpose of Article 13

Is to automatically block quoting anyone or anything as a copyright violation. It's an EU bureaucrats wet dream.

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Re: Or to put it another way

TheVogon said: "... as soon as you make [liable] the companies that are basically just pipes to content, then loads of unrelated stuff is going to get censored..."

But these companies are not 'basically just pipes to content'

(1) They stick adverts on the content before they pipe it to us, and they make lots and lots of money out of doing so.

(2) They snoop meticulously on who is at the end of their pipes and they monitor what we are looking-at/listening-to so they can monetise the sh*t out of that information.

Basically, these companies make a lot of money off the back of other people's content, and if they didn't have access to content that people wanted to see/hear then they wouldn't have a business.

Broadcasters, print publishers, people who make physical stuff – they can all be held liable if they make money from other people's work without properly compensating them.

But this seemingly straightforward fairness/anti-parasite rule about profiting from other people's work does not currently apply to the internet publishers.

That is an in-plain-sight contradiction.

That is why this isn't going to go away.

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Unfortuately..

It appears A toothless Guard Dog has started barking at a Brainless Giant.

The only way to derail/change this policy is if the Giant's component parts

feels their position/financial security is threatened.

Brussels is like all large lumbering creatures if it doesn't hurt they'll ignore it.

Still waiting for that Sarcasm Icon El Reg

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Brussels ?

I think you're confused. You should go back and read the article again.

It's a United Nations official that is involved, not an EU one.

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Anonymous Coward

The idea is actually a good one if it was, copyright material uploaded, reported and blocked from being uploaded again via checksum.

However, copyright is an abomination. It doesn't work for the creator it just serves lawyers and corporations who squeeze every penny they can out of other peoples work. There's also the problem with how this will be misused, it'll be used to censor anything and everything. So all in all it's a very bad idea that will kill the internet.

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Anonymous Coward

> The idea is actually a good one if it was, copyright material uploaded, reported and blocked from being uploaded again via checksum.

Just to point out, that would generally only catch the super, super, super clueless uploaders-of-copyrighted-stuff.

It's trivial to change the checksum of a file by simply appending an extra byte to the end. That throws off exact size matches too. Only slightly more complicated is changing values inside the file (eg change a value in each keyframe).

The point being that it's pretty trivial to work around stuff like this in simple cases, and just becomes an arms race between "those who write work arounds" vs "those who write checksum catchers".

With the much harder job being for the "ones who write checksum catchers" in this example.

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Checksum checking would catch some small fraction of uploads, but as already mentioned, there are many, many workarounds that are both easy and well known.

To defeat all these well known workarounds, copyright owners would likely end up registering thousands of checksums per protected work, dealing with all the variations as they find them. Not long before that process gets automated, and all anticipated variations get registered at the time of publication. And then you have a situation where the index of forbidden checksums is growing by several million entries per day.

And that's assuming private individuals don't get into the act. In law, everything we write or photograph or record is a new copyrighted work. How long till someone creates a tool to register the checksums for every comment we type on a blog? If that happens, we're looking at billions of new entries per day. More, if the tool also applies the "minor variations" algorithm.

Apart from the sheer overhead of managing all that data, and comparing every new item to them, which frankly I can't even imagine, you also create a rapidly growing probability of false positives. After a few years of this regime, not only would it be a coin toss whether each new item was allowed, it would also take several minutes to do the screening. So then you have a situation where people don't know, often until much later, whether their posting was successful or not.

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Sort-of-works.

Going by hash doesn't. It's trivial to fool. Just change one character in some field of the metadata and you are through. You can solve this by using a perceptual hash, which looks for similarity, but that introduces a new problem of an impractically high false positive rate.

Let's say you have a ridiculously good filter with a false match rate of one in ten million. Unfortunately the copyright holders of the world have submitted more then ten million works for you to check, so just about everything now flags as infringing. This is the situation with youtube's content ID. Anyone who has uploaded more than a handful of videos can tell you the story of how something perfectly innocuous still set the filter off, and the pain of youtube's fully-automated appeals process.

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Anonymous Coward

Thanks, I'm fully aware of the issues of using checksum but it's really the only simple option other than analysing the data but that's going to add a lot of cost and time depending on how you decide to do it.

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> With the much harder job being for the "ones who write checksum catchers" in this example.

They can make their jobs easier by aggressively marking anything and everything as copyright violation if at least a remote possibility exists it might be one. And by ‘can’ I mean they are already doing it. There is no penalty for false positive copyright harassment, so why not. And few are able or care to challenge ‘computers says no’...

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Anonymous Coward

> it's really the only simple option ...

My point is that it only sounds like a simple option.

When implemented, every system like this turns out to be horrendous in operation.

Not because the people creating them are incompetent (ok, "mostly not imcompetent"), but more because there is no workable solution for this problem space.

It's similar to the semi-famous problem of ages yore, when some political types legislated pi=3 to make things simple. While in concept (heh) it makes for a decent sound bite, practical reality doesn't work that way.

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> political types legislated pi=3

Except they didn't. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/alabamas-slice-of-pi/

But boy, Google's tame useful idiots are out in force at the moment.

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FAIL

I'm fully aware of the issues ... ?

" I'm fully aware of the issues of using checksum but it's really the only simple option..."

So what earthly use is a simple option that doesn't work?

Oh, and my book, published by a major publisher's EU-based office, is readily available with a bit of Googling, from a site (guess where) outside the EU. Such a law is utterly trivial to defeat, and therefore utterly pointless, whether it uses trivial checksums or very sophisticated machine learning.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: > political types legislated pi=3

> Except they didn't. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/alabamas-slice-of-pi/

Thanks, hadn't seen that. Seemed to make for a good analogy, but looks like not.

Not really sure why you're calling people names though. Bad day?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: > political types legislated pi=3

> Except they didn't. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/alabamas-slice-of-pi/

It turns out they did: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Pi_Bill

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"However, copyright is an abomination. It doesn't work for the creator it just serves lawyers and corporations who squeeze every penny they can out of other peoples work."

If copyright is an abomination, what would you call what we had before it (aka everything was privately commissioned and usually kept out of the public eye)?

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Youtube already have such filters in place and they are a pain in the arse. If you get a false positive where it detects something as being copyright even when it isn't your account gets a strike even if you were entitled to use the works in fair use.

This seems like a law that has been pushed through with lobbying from the media companies who are still trying to hold on to their monopoly.

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Which i think is what the guy’s point is when he says that “automated filtering may be ill-equipped to perform assessments of context”.

Deciding whether something is “fair use” feels like it needs generalised AI to me. So not available soon, then.

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So you need something with the speed of a computer and the subjectivity of a human otherwise the load gets overwhelming and people lose. Either true works get copycat teddy to death or get wrongly tagged a copies, with no way to distinguish between them.

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> So you need something with the speed of a computer and the subjectivity of a human ...

Needs wisdom too, and someone to keep an eye on it's developing nature. Something like you suggest that - for example - starts leaning towards various forms of intolerance / racism / badness-in-general could go pear shaped very quickly.

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Anonymous Coward

The big problem with contentID is that the media companies are claiming copyright to lots of stuff that is fair use and even things for which they do not in fact own the copyright. Supposedly, they're supposed to check and confirm when the uploader complains, but by and large, it seems like an auto-reply.

Now, if there were penalties for false copyright claims...

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Pirate

Who benefits from the law?

The whole point of this is most likely to shift the fault from the penny-less end user to the more solvent internet platforms: You'll definitely make more profit from suing (for instance) YouTube than from suing little Johnny, 12... So I guess they certainly won't drop the idea, not matter what people (or even common sense) say.

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Re: Who benefits from the law?

Except the big guys are also more likely to fight back...fight back AND WIN, which leaves you asking which to take: a sure 10% of something or the risk of 100% of nothing?

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Anonymous Coward

Anyone have a spare bullet?

Whoever came up with this idea needs one.

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The EU listen? Don't make me laugh

This is the EU politburo that we are talking about - they don't listen to anybody.

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Happy

Re: The EU listen? Don't make me laugh

Actually, the EU policy makers do listen, not so much to the UN, but to stakeholders in the EU member states. That's one of the good things about being in the EU, as opposed to being outside but forced to adopt EU rules in order to obtain trading rights.

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Anonymous Coward

This is long overdue

Studies conducted by Project 451 show conclusively that almost all copyright violations make use of so called ‘character sets’. For Americans these are the letters a-z,A-Z, and the digits 0-9.

To prevent henceforth abuse of these character sets all publications are required to exclusively use the Null byte. More specifically 450 Null bytes terminated by a null byte.

Non-conforming publications are easily recognizable and offenders will be rehabilitated each Monday.

As additional studies will show this will also tackle problems with illnesses as ‘internet addiction’, and worse.

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Facepalm

Re: This is long overdue

If only RFC3514 and RFC8136 had been implemented, we'd never have had this problem to solve.

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WHOSE government is run by corporations?

I have noticed that those of you whose ancestors lacked the gumption to get out have a habit of snarking that government in the US is run by corporations. I submit that this legislation is prima facie that things are at least as bad in the EU.

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