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My letter to the MEPs concerning the copyright reform / Article 13 and 11

Dear Member of the European Parlament,

my name is Sven Pachnit and I work as, for and with content creators and providers of general web services. I'm deeply concerned about Article 13 and let's don't forget Article 11.

Both will harm the free internet to an enormous extend and will result in even worse conditions for small companies and startups in the EU (you already wonder why all the big web companies are in the US, it's not because they are so much better at it but the climate in the EU just isn't that appealing to have ones HQ in, this will certainly won't make it any better). I know quite a few companies that are being operated by EU citizens but they registered the company outside of the EU.

Upload filters are a huge problem. I'm guessing you are not a content creator on YouTube so let me tell you how bad the world's most advanced content filter (Content ID from Google) really is. It "detects" ones voice (with nothing else, e.g. background music) and claims it as copyright violation. It also commonly falsely claims 100% original content or content that is rightful like critiquing content. Granted most of these false claims are being resolved (but only if you have a big enough community or can create a big enough shitstorm) but it's a huge problem for independent content creators and takes away a lot of their time to deal with these problems. And a lot of the time they lose all the revenue which doesn't exactly incentivise people to become independent content creators which in turn hurts our free society and exchange of views.

And please don't forget, Content ID only works by right holders submitting their content to Content ID in order for it to be able to match it against potentially violating content. It's basically impossible to create a content filter without the active cooperation by right holders (and right holders probably are not going to provide their content to thousands of companies in order for them to create a filter which most companies are not even able to make). It will also not be able to distinguish between actual violations and uses that are rightful (critique, satire, etc.) and desired in a free society. It's already common that critiquing voices are being silenced in the name of Copyright protection due to the imperfections of these automated systems.

It's anything but trivial to create such a upload filter as seen with the most advanced one, Content ID which is anything but perfect. Almost all companies will have to resort to give away their control over user data and use 3rd party services which are likely too expensive for non-profit services which will effectively result in their death sentence (or they have to move outside of the EU or worse into the darknet). This is in direct contrast to what the GDPR wanted to achieve.

Since Google has the most advanced filter which is frankly still garbage it will probably jump onto this opportunity to provide (possibly free) matching filter services in order to collect even more data. That's just an assumption of mine but I believe it's rather likely. Yet again moving more power over user data outside of the EU into the hands of US based companies.

But it goes further than that. Every site that allows user generated content (UGC) be it images, videos or just text (e.g. comments on a blog) will have to resort to one of these three things:

  • Use a big (probably US based) company to handle it for them (e.g. disqus.com), losing control over the data and make themselves dependent on 3rd parties
  • Cease to provide those functionalities which is a HUGE loss for everyone, it effectively silences productive conversations, exchange of views and is effectively to be seen as soft-censorship
  • Take the risk and ignore it, rather unlikely

There is also the likely possibility that many of the big US based companies that we all rely on may just cease their operations in the EU because the risk is just unbearable and impossible to control. Services like YouTube probably have to cease upload functionality for EU citizens or make it unbelievably hard for small and new content creators to ever be able to create a channel (and it's already hard enough)

Community forums like reddit.com which is a huge if not the biggest place for people to meet, discuss, share and create content will be deeply hurt (for EU citizens) by the proposed articles.

I hope I could give you some valid arguments as to why these two articles are a very bad idea in terms of free expression, business opportunities and overall communication on the internet. I will make sure not to vote for a party that supports this proposal with all those consequences in mind and also will urge all citizens I know (and/or can reach otherwise) to look into this issue more deeply in order to obtain votes against parties that support this proposal.

Sincerely,

Sven Pachnit

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