back to article Should take down mean stay down? EU’s Big Internet quiz leaks

Brussels wants to know if you think Silicon Valley’s giant internet plantations do business fairly in Europe – and is inviting views on Big Internet’s biggest legal loophole. A leak of the European Commission’s imminent platforms consultation, seen by The Register – it’s one of several – wants Europeans' views on whether “take …

  1. theOtherJT

    Take down => Come up somewhere else.

    Forget Youtube for a moment. Sure it's the dominant player, sure it's the 800lb gorilla, but think more generally for a second. Lets suppose we succeed in forcing Google to take things down, and make sure that they never come back up again on its service. Then what?

    Google loses traffic, advertisers go elsewhere and someone else starts a video sharing service hosting all that tasty content. The only reason they wouldn't is if they were subject to the same laws, but then all we have is a case where we can legislate all the TakeDown=>StayDown we like and it just means TakeDown=>ComeBackUpInRussia*

    As long as there's somewhere that's prepared to host this stuff, then it comes back up, end of. That's how the internet works. It doesn't care about political or geographical boundaries. Anyone can attach a machine to it and put what the hell they like on there.

    If we really don't like that, then we have to start talking about "breaking the internet" again, and deliberately making things that are technically working as designed unroutable - which is rather a slippery slope to go standing on.

    So, really we're asking:

    "Is it worth breaking rights-holders business model, potentially to the point of driving them out of business entirely, in order to preserve the operation of the internet as designed?"

    For what it's worth I think that's a good trade, but as a raging anti-censorship all-speech-should-be-free-speech and damn the consequences type I imagine there's lots of perfectly sensible people who won't agree with me. That said, I don't think it's terribly controversial to suggest that when there's really no legal recourse (because there's no possible way to enforce it internationally) then we're back looking at technical recourse such as blacklisting - and those have a bit of a habit of being abused, so this needs to be taken both very seriously and very carefully.

    * Or elsewhere, for that matter.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Take down => Come up somewhere else.

      I understand your argument. It follows that no laws should be imposed on unethical and criminal behaviour anywhere on the internet.

      I'm not sure about the reasoning you use to get there - making the "should" into a "can" using a technical justification. Nothing can be made "unrouteable" except by removing it, but this may simply be a lack of technical understanding on your part.

      The same logic actually applies to almost every law. Don't do because something bad might happen. You might arrest the wrong people. (It happens). Etc.

      You are also right in appreciating that your position isn't a very popular one. When you allow corporations, criminals and governments to act without legal challenge or sanction, it is not hard for ordinary people to imagine the consequences. I'm sure you can see them too, if you try. The absence of laws isn't a utopia - it means the strong can bully the weak.

      1. theOtherJT

        Re: Take down => Come up somewhere else.

        I agree that this applies to any law, but surely the purpose of a law is to encourage behavior we want and discourage behavior we don't want. Moreover, when we create laws I think we acknowledge that with concept that the "punishment fits the crime".

        Obviously some laws will be broken by some people, and the effort we put into enforcing them, and the severity of the punishment we assign reflects how likely we think the law is to be flouted and how important it is that it not be.

        Copyright law is one that's obviously frequently flouted, but we know that trying to strictly enforce it is a hiding to nothing. It doesn't work. Trying to ramp up the punishment by imposing utterly ridiculous fines as a deterrent also doesn't work - and not for lack of trying.

        I used the word "Route" loosely, which probably wasn't the best idea given that so many people on here do know how to use it strictly. I meant more along the lines of the old Irish* joke - How do I get to Dublin? Ach, you can't get there from here - where the "here" becomes the relevant point.

        From where you are right now, there's no nice clean route to get to where you want to be because the first stop is going to be your ISP who will deliberately sabotage any attempt by you to go where they've been told to stop you. So we make all the the ISPs block the IP of the offending site/service at their end, and get the DNS providers to hijack requests for it to send you to the "Who's a naughty boy then?" page - this is already widely done.

        ...and is already widely pointless, since you just proxy around it. So if we want to stop that then we need to start trying to prevent proxying. And then we need to snoop on all the SSH tunnels to places that aren't on our christmas card list that people might try and use to escape from the copy-protection garden.

        It all gets very complicated and I don't see it taking too long before it becomes a massive problem to implement without doing massive collateral damage and not worth all the bother - which brings me back to enforcing the law.

        It'd be insane to deal with the fact that almost everyone speeds on the motorway by closing all the roads or by taking everyone's driving licences away. The roads are there for a reason - people need them. We can put cameras up and fine people enough to bankrupt them I suppose, which would probably put an end to speeding pretty quickly, but only after quite a lot of people were caught and ruined. You could probably argue that they knew the law and therefore deserved it, but the total loss of productivity for bankrupting everyone doing 80 instead of 70 wouldn't be worth it - and if it turned out that producing and maintaining that network of cameras cost more than the losses due to speeding** then that too would be a silly thing to bother doing.

        What I'm saying is that if we're going to try and "strictly enforce" copyright law, we're going to fail, and fail in a way that is worse than not enforcing it at all. That doesn't necessarily generalize to all illegal activity on the internet because the effort required to achieve an useful reduction is relative to the scale of the problem - and copyright infringement is a really BIG problem at the moment - at least in terms of the number of people doing it.

        * Also heard version of this attributed to Australian, Scottish and Welsh - but I reckon it stands.

        ** Doubly controversial - sometimes speeding leads to accidents in which people die, and loss of life is occasionally marked as one of those "infinitely bad, no dollar value can apply" type issues.

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Take-down distinction

    There is a major difference in the nature of Google searching (as it covers everyone's web sites) and YouTube (where Google run the site).

    As you rightly point out, it is quite practical for YouTube to perform at least some basic fingerprinting of files to see if they match known copyright works and then apply some sane action (e.g. if its a fraction of a work, its probably 'fair use' for commentary or discussion but if most of the work then its not).

    However, it is another matter altogether to apply the same reasoning to web search results as the BPI, MPAA, etc, would like. For example, if a copyright work has a very generic name like "Pixels" then we see how stupid the automated take-down notices are:

    Even though such notices are supposed to carry financial penalties if incorrectly used, somehow they are not being applied.

  3. ratfox Silver badge

    Google has developed its ContentID music filtering technology to identify songs as they’re uploaded – but it refuses to turn it on.

    Huh? Isn't ContentID famous for being not only turned on, but also trigger happy, and even abused by some media companies?

    There was the time where it identified NASA footage of curiosity as being "owned" by a small TV company who hadn't bothered to remove it from their automatic uploads.

    There was the time where half the let's play videos got flagged despite nobody having complained about it.

    And a quick search finds many testimonials of how difficult it is for video creators to fight spurious claims from media outfits that are either by laziness or by dishonesty blindly confirming every single contested claim.

    1. Greg J Preece

      I was just coming here with soda all over my monitor to object to that quote. As a guy who's into his video games and game..."fandom" (for lack of a more appropriate term) that particular sector has been hit near-constantly by overreaching ContentID restrictions.

      The idea behind ContentID is IMO sound, but it has some gigantic flaws. As you correctly mentioned, content can be (and very often is) claimed by people who do not own it. The most frustrating flaw for me though is in how they handle matches. The people claiming your content immediately begin receiving all monetisation from the video. Used a ten second music clip in a third minute video? You get no money at all for your efforts. That's disgusting.

      The incredibly frustrating part of that is that they were so close to having an automatic music licencing system I'd have easily been in favour of: if you use someone's content for some of your video, they get a relative portion of the revenue, not all of it. Use someone's music for 5% of your runtime? They get 5% of any money you make off the vid. If I were a video maker I would be 1000000% OK with that, assuming that problem 1 - the overreach in matches - was fixed. It would mean that even the smallest content creator can licence music for use in their videos in a way that doesn't require a single lawyer, and music creators would get paid for their content also.

      The overreach needs fixing first though. Currently people can have their accounts put in bad standing for using even screenshots or clips from trailers. You can be financially penalised for helping promote their product!

  4. Busby

    Should take down mean stay down?

    Of course it should but the likes of youtube make so much money from illegal uploads that I expect their army of lawyers to fight this tooth and nail. Only issue is the music industry have been some of the most effective lobbyists of the last 50 years so this could be a major battle.

    Time for the internet to grow up a little and bring a little common sense to the arguments around copyright and safe harbour. I think the time has past where you could build a billion dollar website using just other peoples content without payment. If that hasn't yet been consigned to the past then it should be at least in Europe by the Commission.

    Whichever side wins would expect the politicians to be rubbing their hands at the thought of these two industries battling for their votes, should be able to wring some major jollies out them.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This ain't rocket science

    All who provide access to copyright material must pay royalties or go to prison. End of discussion because that's why we have copyright laws to protect art. That means Google and everyone else should pay for the use of all copyright protected works or not have access to it. Illegal usage of copyright protected works be it music, software, etc. should require mandatory 10 year prison sentences and large fines for all involved. Anyone who illegally distributes copyright protected works should see a minimum of 20 years in prison (just like all hackers) and massive fines. There should be no accept ions, period. Blighty is just a haven for digital crims and this must stop.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: This ain't rocket science

      Ludicrous prison terms, ludicrous fining, totally for the music industry, do you AC?

    2. Radbruch1929

      Re: This ain't rocket science

      > All who provide access to copyright material must pay royalties or go to prison.

      Well, since it is still "Royal Mail" and part still belongs to the government: who do you want see sent away for some time?

    3. Afernie

      Re: This ain't rocket science

      "Anyone who illegally distributes copyright protected works should see a minimum of 20 years in prison (just like all hackers) and massive fines. There should be no accept ions, period. Blighty is just a haven for digital crims and this must stop."

      Feeling better now? Can I offer you a towel for the froth and perhaps an antipsychotic to make the voices go away?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As has been pointed out if you want to fix one side of the problem you have to fix the other and media companies need to take appropriate action not the scattergun approach they now use. All sides need to play fair

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    take down/stay down

    Yes, but only if improper takedowns exact a penalty a real penalty.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The copyright monopoly industry

    "the power of copyright-based industries"? Please, if you care for civil liberties, phrase it more like "the power of the copyright monopoly industry", words matter.

    Leave the art and culture etc out of it and clearly frame the villains who stand directly at odds with civil liberties, natural rights, trade, competition etc, in the more isolated and negative light that they belong.

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