Article 13 pits Big Tech and bots against European creatives

It's all about YouTube


Updated - Special Report Today's vote on Article 13 of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market in European Parliament has turned into a knife-edge referendum on whether European institutions can deal with Californian exceptionalism.

Can the EU change the way Google's giant YouTube video service behaves, and "filter" repeat infringers? Will the filter be the blunt tool critics predict? Must Brussels satisfy itself with tackling the tech giants with impressive-sounding but largely harmless fines?

When we put the point that changes in liability for platforms really belong in a revised e-Commerce Directive, rather than tinkering with amendments and recitals, Lavinia Carey, founder of the Alliance for IP and director general of the British Video Association told us:

The absolute horror of rights owners is the thought that in doing so we would lose what we already have... In light of the scaremongering [last week], that's a massive risk to take.

Rights-holders feel outgunned by Big Tech in their own backyard, which is why many are rallying behind the European Commission in the vote, even though neither of the two changes affects many of them. The vote includes a new Article 11 in the directive, giving news publishers a neighbouring right. The second is a new Article 13, directed at giant platforms that host user-generated content (UGC).

man crushed by boot

Music's value gap? Follow the money trail back to Google

READ MORE

The tweaks to copyright liability in Article 13 before MEPs this week have narrowed after months of horsetrading in Brussels – and they don't name names, but they're really about one company and the unique legal benefits it enjoys. That company is Google, and the perks arise from the special conditions attached to UGC that YouTube hosts, which were originally designed for services such as cloud storage. YouTube was not in legislators' wildest imaginations in the dial-up era of the late 1990s when the laws were made – so the prospect of a dominant company using these privileges as a competitive cudgel probably did not enter their minds.

Google's critics are joined by Apple and Spotify in arguing that the UGC loophole gives YouTube a unique advantage over its music rivals and drives down the price of music, which in turn means musicians get much less than others pay (YouTube pays a fraction of Apple's royalty rates). In 2016, the commission, having demanded concessions from rights-holders over portability and data mining, threw them a couple of sops: one being a newspaper publisher's right, the other being the UGC framework addressed in Article 13.

Cue the rhetoric. Article 13 is an "extinction-level event", according to digital rights activitst Cory Doctorow. The Electronic Frontier Foundation claims (once again) that it will "break the internet".

The commission, which developed the proposals over several months, has argued that these criticisms are false. There is no general filtering obligation, it insists. Critics refer to a "meme ban", but the commish contends that the tweak only applies to giant platforms who are repeat offenders using UGC (it only kicks in when repeat infringement requests have been ignored), and it has carve-outs for Wikipedia and GitHub.

"Special focus should also be given to ensuring that the burden on SMEs remains appropriate and that automated content blocking is avoided," according to the text dated 6 September posted by Axel Voss MEP, the rapporteur guiding the process. We've uploaded the most recent amendment by Voss here (PDF).

So without naming it, Article 13 only really ensnares YouTube – which is both its strength and weakness.

There's an elaborate policing process over any filtering the platforms put in place. Those "civil society" objections have now been addressed, Voss claims. But if Voss thought giving exceptions to GitHub (a for-profit, VC-backed corporation recently acquired by Microsoft) and Wikipedia was going to win their support, he was deluding himself – they've continued to campaign against the proposal.

Next page: Battling bots

Similar topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • DuckDuckGo tries to explain why its browsers won't block some Microsoft web trackers
    Meanwhile, Tails 5.0 users told to stop what they're doing over Firefox flaw

    DuckDuckGo promises privacy to users of its Android, iOS browsers, and macOS browsers – yet it allows certain data to flow from third-party websites to Microsoft-owned services.

    Security researcher Zach Edwards recently conducted an audit of DuckDuckGo's mobile browsers and found that, contrary to expectations, they do not block Meta's Workplace domain, for example, from sending information to Microsoft's Bing and LinkedIn domains.

    Specifically, DuckDuckGo's software didn't stop Microsoft's trackers on the Workplace page from blabbing information about the user to Bing and LinkedIn for tailored advertising purposes. Other trackers, such as Google's, are blocked.

    Continue reading
  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading
  • Atos pushes out HPC cloud services based on Nimbix tech
    Moore's Law got you down? Throw everything at the problem! Quantum, AI, cloud...

    IT services biz Atos has introduced a suite of cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC) services, based around technology gained from its purchase of cloud provider Nimbix last year.

    The Nimbix Supercomputing Suite is described by Atos as a set of flexible and secure HPC solutions available as a service. It includes access to HPC, AI, and quantum computing resources, according to the services company.

    In addition to the existing Nimbix HPC products, the updated portfolio includes a new federated supercomputing-as-a-service platform and a dedicated bare-metal service based on Atos BullSequana supercomputer hardware.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022