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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Enemies everywhere

Lovers of liberty are surrounded by enemies. Paul Marks posted a video by tech and social commentary YouTuber Computing Forever explaining possible consequences of yesterday’s votes on articles 11 and 13 of the EU Copyright Directive. I am also fond of the gaming YouTuber ObsidianAnt, who is less certain but still worried.

It is unclear how this directive will be implemented, but it seems awfully unpleasant. Even if this is not the end of the Internet, regulations have ratcheted a little bit more and there is no sign of any future change in direction. At best, life will be made harder for small content creators and innovation will be stifled. YouTube, I suspect, will make a minimum effort to implement tougher content filters which will annoy the big channels and kill off marginal smaller ones. Google will pay the occasional big fine since the system will be impossible to implement perfectly. Some other content sharing platforms will exit the EU or be killed off. All kinds of unseen new things will never come to be. To some extent rules like the link tax will be ignored and not enforced, except against people who are sufficiently unpopular. To some extent people will work around the directive, and in response the EU will try to tighten regulations further.

This is a great example of just how hard it is for grass roots efforts to change the minds of the European Commission. Years of campaigning could not stop the directive. I can not imagine any way the direction of travel can be reversed. The EU is making a really good case for Brexit.

On the other hand, when asked, the British government responded: “We support Articles 11 and 13, which seek to ensure creators and producers are rewarded when their works are used online, but agree they must include safeguards for freedom of expression.” I do see any sign of safeguards. Will the UK government now refuse to implement the directive during the transition period? Boris is against it, at least.

Meanwhile, some more EU plans are afoot to fit cars with speed limiters and black boxes. “The Department for Transport said the system would also apply in the UK, despite Brexit.”

The British government may not be much better for liberty than the EU and in some cases may be worse, but I can at least imagine how it might be possible to change it. I think we need to get out of the EU so we can concentrate on opposing opponents of liberty in Westminster. Perhaps in a few weeks we will have some idea how close a prospect that is.

13 comments to Enemies everywhere

  • Mr Ed

    An EU Directive is implemented in the Member States (and vassal states, I believe) by that state being required to pass legislation to implement the Directive’s aims. The Directive is a ‘directive’ to Member States etc. to implement legislation to achieve the effect of the aims of the Directive, and it may give a State options on how to implement it, e.g. 2 methods to allow for Collective Redundancies to be managed, and the State may pick one of the methods or aims set out in the Directive. This is less onerous that an EU Regulation, e.g. GDPR, which is an EU diktat that has direct legal force without any Member State having any discretion over it.

    If a State does not implement a directive, it may be sued for compensation by individuals and businesses in that State for damages for failing to implement a directive, and may face fines from the EU for failing to implement a Directive.

    I believe that the UK will, under a WA, be bound to implement if not such directives, measures that are required to maintain ‘regulatory alignment’ with the EU.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Thanks, Mr Ed, I thought it must be something like that. I wonder how much wiggle room there is.

  • Douglas2/Unknown

    In my work for a few arts organizations, I deal with music content filters all the time for materials that we have already put on youtube or facebook — or are trying to put there.

    The most frequent “flags” against us are where we are live-streaming performances where our own musicians performing compositions that are still in copyright — we have acquired the rights needed to do this from the relevant performing rights organizations, but for small-fry like us the only way to inform youtube and facebook that we have the rights are retrospectively — after their content management detection scheme has either killed our event or allowed the the copyright-owner to put ads on it. Fortunately for us most of the time it is merely the latter, and we want the publicity rather than the ad-income from the stream anyway.

    Next most common are holders of copyright in sound recordings, claiming that our recorded performance with all of its mistakes and tuning problems is really their major-label recording of the same musical work. About half the time when I use the platform’s appeal process against the takedown, my appeal is rejected, which demonstrates to me that the copyright holders either have a high “oops I clicked the wrong button” rate on their re-evaluations, or they are relying upon similarly flawed automatic “detection” of similarity, or their staff are just idiots.

    Next most common are always European publishers who are claiming that they hold copyright in compositions that are quite clearly in the public domain, both in my evaluation after taking a global copyright-law course and in the evaluation of the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP.ORG).

    I hope that the big platforms will respond to this by allowing small-fry like me to notify them that I will be streaming copyrighted material and that I have licenses from the rights-holders to do so, but I’m expecting that that in actuality our ability to promote our events with live-streams and ads containing music&dance will probably effectively disappear on these platforms. And we’re not even in Europe.

  • I got my first 451 Error the other day when following a link to a US site.

    My HTTP_451 Error

    I was quite impressed and hope that more sites will do this, since it exposes the fact that the EU is now a censorious regime (well, more so than previous, I guess) and they shouldn’t be able to hide from that fact.

    Hopefully, Farcebook and Twatter will follow suit. That would set the cat among the pigeons.

  • Sam Duncan

    “I wonder how much wiggle room there is.”

    Personally, if I were PM, I’d tell ’em to get knotted. But the Tories (and Labour) were among the buggers who supported it in the EP.

    “The Department for Transport said the system would also apply in the UK, despite Brexit.”

    Presumably because there’s little they can do to stop it. If the manufacturers are building to EU rules, we’re an afterthought.

    Not that they’ll bother trying. There’s going to be a massive black market in disconnecting these things, and the DoT could have said that it won’t be illegal in the UK. But it won’t.

    JG: Yes. I’ve seen a few of those myself. I don’t know if Twatface will pull out of the EU, but surprisingly – or perhaps not – given its own experience with content filtering (under, let’s not forget, the USA’s own only-slightly-less-draconian DMCA), YouTube is very much opposed to A13.

  • bobby b

    “Even if this is not the end of the Internet . . . “

    It won’t be the end of the internet.

    But it will be the beginning of placing national borders around the internet.

    We’ll all be like China, seeing only our own nationally-approved internet content. I imagine that we USA-types will soon lose our ability to see and comment upon Samizdata – at which point PdH will need to comply with all UK-centric internet rules about what gets said here.

  • Sam Duncan

    “But it will be the beginning of placing national borders around the internet.”

    Well, that is the end of inter-network communication. As you say, we’ll be back to a world of little national networks that don’t talk to each other, despite being based on a techonlogy that was designed to faciliate exactly that. The engineers built it, and the politicians and bureaucrats fucked it up. As usual.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Well, that is the end of inter-network communication.”

    On the official, open internet, maybe. There are technical ways round that sort of thing, and if someone creates a mass market for developing that sort of software…

  • bobby b

    In the face of this new vote, if you’re in the EU (and value anonymity and the ability to reach sources your government doesn’t love) and you’re not at least reading up on TOR and the Dark Web and VPNs, you’re going to be scrambling to catch up at some point.

  • Paul Marks

    This so called “Copyright Directive” is really a cover for a mass CENSORSHIP campaign by the European Union – to crush political, and even cultural, dissent. Anyone who continues to support the European Union after this shows themselves to be supporters of creeping (now not so “creeping” – more sprinting) totalitarianism.

    Will the “deal” of Prime Minister May protect us from this Orwellian named “Copyright Directive” (which is really about even more CENSORSHIP). No it will not protect us.

    So people who vote for Mrs May’s legally binding “Withdrawal Agreement” show they do not really care about basic liberty.

    They know (they are not ignorant of the above) – I have personally told the MPs who used to swear that they would never vote for this legally binding document, and are now parroting the “Brexit means Brexit” line of Prime Minister May.

    They are guilty – the people who vote for the legally binding withdrawal agreement are not honestly ignorant, they are guilty. I hope, even at this late hour, they repent.

    They have Free Will – their vote is NOT predetermined, they can CHOOSE not to do this.

  • Paul Marks

    As Rob Fisher points out – the E.U. continues with its tidal wave of regulations.

    Rob gives the example of the demand from the E.U. that all cars sold after 2021 be fitted with electronic controls of their speed – making the driver of the car a puppet. Will the “deal” of Mrs May protect us from this?

    Of course NOT. Because the “deal” is “Brexit” – it is NOT leaving the European Union. We did not vote for “Brexit means Brexit” we voted for independence, but we are not going to get independence.

  • Gareth

    Regards the changes to cars: It’s not directly an EU thing but a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe matter. In these kinds of organisations the UK is obliged by the Lisbon Treaty to promote the EU’s position. Japan, USA, Australia, etc all get to speak with their own voice.

    Here is another example: UN Regulation on Advanced Emergency Braking Systems for cars to significantly reduce crashes

  • Julie near Chicago


    (now not so “creeping” – more sprinting)

    Well put. Also 😆 , for which many thanks. Even a rueful chuckle is a chuckle. :>))


    Gareth, yet another reason for the UK to go straight “No Deal.” Complete independence, that’s the ticket.

    Unfortunately, I’m sure that sooner or later some Dem Bulb is gonna come up with the idea for here.