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EU wants to license content created by online authors, Google isn’t happy about it


Google has criticized the European Council’s proposal that asks content sharing platforms like YouTube, Dailymotion ‘to deploy a kind of automated filtering technology’ to automatically detect songs or audiovisual works that infringe the original creator’s copyrights. The search giant retaliated in a blog post that such a mechanism “would effectively turn the internet into a place where everything uploaded to the web must be cleared by lawyers before it can find an audience.”

It further argues that content sharing platforms are not obliged to monitor and filter out infringed content in real-time, however they are only obliged to pull down content if a user notifies Google about a copyright violation. Google says that YouTube already has such a partial content filtering system named “Content ID” which “blocks content that has been claimed by a copyright owner.” If EU’s proposal is passed, it might hurt creativity, innovation and openness of the Internet, eventually limiting how platform like YouTube and Dailymotion operates, added Google.

YouTube’s content management feature ‘Content ID’ is a result of time-taking research and development and smaller organization and startups may find it hard to implement such filtering softwares. Therefore, it is important for EU to strike “an appropriate balance” between content filtering and openness of a public sharing platform on the Internet, Google argues in the blog post.

Shift from print to digital affecting advertising revenues: EU

EU argues that journalistic publishing has taken shift from physical print to digital media, and several re-publishers including news aggregators and social media has impacted advertising revenue and has “made licensing and enforcement of the (copy) rights…increasingly difficult.” Hence the EU proposes journalists, authors, and related press publishers as the “legal right holders” of the content they create so that they are in a better position to “negotiate the use of their content with online services using or enabling access to it, and better able to fight piracy.” This is aimed at creating a legal framework to license journalistic works for sharing on digital media, according to the council.

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However, Google has expressed its displeasure over this as well calling the proposal “disappointing”. Providing legal rights to content creators would restrict Google’s ability to “send monetizable traffic, for free to news publishers via Google News and Search features,” the search giant argued. The company further states that licensing journalistic content could hurt “European startups working with the news sector to build sustainable business models online.”

“The proposal looks similar to failed laws in Germany and Spain, and represents a backward step for copyright in Europe. After all, paying to display snippets is not a viable option for anyone. We believe there’s a better way. Innovation and partnership—not subsidies and onerous restrictions—are the key to a successful, diverse and sustainable news sector in the EU, and Google is committed to playing its part,” Google adds in its blog post.

It further draws attention to its Accelerated Mobile Pages feature that speeds up web page load times by plugging a piece of Google code into publishers’ websites, which was developed in association with the Digital News Initiative. Although, Google claims that publishers have all the rights to control their ad inventory and how they sell it, a report from DigiDay says that ads on AMP are at times slow to load, hampering ad impressions and clicks. Google responded to this stating that it is still working on speeding up ad content on AMP, but at times, multiple trackers integrated by publishers, response-time of the ad server could also hamper ad-load time, the report added.

Publishers need to be transparent about profits earned from content: EU

The draft digital copyright rules proposes that publishers and producers need to be more transparent and “inform authors (and journalists) or performers about profits they made with their works”. This according to the council helps original authors “to obtain a fair share when negotiating remuneration with producers and publishers” and could “lead to higher level of trust among all players in the digital value chain.”

Google sees this part of the proposal as “an important step to building fairer and more effective copyright marketplaces.” Such a transparent mechanism would allow European content creators to connect effectively with their corresponding audiences and better understand how they are rewarded, the company mentioned in its blog post.

Elsewhere in India

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In India, John Doe orders awarded to film production houses have reportedly led to blockade of torrent listing and sharing sites. What’s more alarming is the fact that legitimate businesses are also hampered by such temporary blockades: a website involved in movie reviews and discussion were blocked by several ISPs, while its administrator pointed out to us that there was no sort of relief or means to counter the block. More on this here. Another shocker came when the Bollywood movie ‘A Flying Jatt’, secured a John Doe court order against 830 websites. Even ISPs have reportedly faced troubles in blocking so many websites, while some have failed to follow court directions regarding to blocking websites. More on this here.

Earlier, Eros International was initially denied a John Doe order by the Bombay HC in July, since makers were requesting blockade for entire websites. The Bombay HC on August 9th instead served Jon Doe orders only to specific URLs or sub sections of a website that might infringe or already have infringed copyrights in the past. This was meant to make sure that censorship via John Doe orders doesn’t curb how legitimate sites run.

Image Credits: Flickr user opensource.com under CC BY-SA 2.0

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