Copyright Infringement Policy: Has it gone too far?

Updated: May 5



Listen to the full episode here.


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TLDR:

- I posted a video to Instagram that was taken down due to copyright infringement

- How the EU Copyright Directive has set a dangerous precedent for digital content sharing

- Legislation forcing upload filtering tech upon sharing platforms can cause problems for just about everyone


DJing is probably my favorite hobby at the moment. I’ve been recording my mixes and posting a video snippet of the mix to my personal socials. I posted one to my Instagram about a month ago and I would tell you to go look at it… but you can’t…..


Duh DUh DUHHH!!


You won’t find it because I got this message from Instagram about 2 minutes after uploading it:

“Your video was blocked because it may contain music, audio or video that belongs to someone else. Your video matches 31 seconds of video owned by Sony Music Entertainment - SME. They requested videos containing this content to be blocked in the following countries where they own the rights: (they list a whopping 248 countries). Instagram is committed to protecting everyone's intellectual property, so we're letting you know that your video contains material that you may not have the rights to use. Delete this video if you don't have the rights to use all of the content in it. This won't affect your account. Submit a dispute if you feel this is a mistake and you have the rights to use all of the content in your video. Your video will remain blocked while Sony Music Entertainment - SME reviews your dispute.”

So I did some research because the fact that none of my other mixes have been taken down had made me curious. Upon digging and sifting through the Internet, I found the EU Copyright Directive - a proposal to protect the work of creators from being exploited on digital content sharing platforms. Protection from exploitation sounds fine and dandy on the surface, but the EU Copyright Directive has set an extremely dangerous precedent by establishing regulations on platforms used for digital content sharing.




The EU Copyright Directive Controversy


The beginnings of the EU Copyright Directive (EUCD from here on out) date back to 2001 and has been developing since. Just this April, the EUCD was finally passed by the EU. Like I said before, the directive was birthed to protect creators from exploitation, which is great! But the way the directive is written is problematic - particularly when it comes to Article 13.


Article 13 of the EUCD has a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo but in plain terms, it proposes making companies like Google and Facebook Inc. directly responsible for preventing copyrighted material from being uploaded by their users without a license. And the EUCD points to upload filter technologies as a means for platforms to implement this type of regulation. This is where the problem lies.




Why you should care about the EU Copyright Directive


The EUCD threatens the current way of life of the Internet by mandating sharing platforms to use upload filters. Why? Well there’s three reasons I can think of:


Upload filters are expensive.

Being a relatively new technology, upload filters can be expensive, especially when they need to protect the platform from legal issues. This allows bigger platforms like Youtube and Facebook to make the investment with ease, while smaller content sharing platforms struggle to scrape together the capital they need to meet this basic requirement. The result is an unfair consolidation of power towards the tech giants rather than a decentralization of power across the spectrum.


Upload filters are error-prone.

Like all technologies, upload filters aren’t perfect and make mistakes. An example of this can be seen from the experiences of DJ Miss Kiff which she outlined during an interview: “I hosted a 3 hour International Women’s Day event online at SAE, where the only benefit was to promote women in music and Facebook cut us out 6 times because of copyright claims!” Suppressing an International Women’s Day event? Why don’t you like women, Facebook? Obviously they have nothing against women, but it quickly becomes a PR nightmare when a malfunction can create this perception.


They automatically filter what content appears on the Internet.

Technologies that automatically filter what content appears on the Internet can’t accommodate case-by-case evaluations of infringement. Twitter is a perfect example of this. Twitter’s algorithm has stimulated a pretty large debate around the topic of free speech. This came after a series of bannings that some argued were result of Left-leaning codes of conduct. The argument is that the algorithm was programmed/automated to function in a certain way and that way has been discriminating against certain groups of people. Did Twitter intentionally program their platform to discriminate against certain groups? Probably not, but it highlights just how sweeping the effects of automated filtering could be for the Internet.




My Solution


Although I believe copyright infringement enforcement should exist, I also believe it is currently being over-enforced online. The video I mentioned earlier was taken down from my personal Instagram page - a page with 48 posts and 346 followers. So I am supposed to believe that my use of an A-list artist’s track is infringing on their rights of ownership? I have little to zero influence on the platform and I am nowhere near able to make money from my page. It just seems super petty.


My solution is that for copyright infringement to take place, you must be making a profit from content you don’t have the rights to. And anyone who posts copyrighted content to their social media but doesn’t make any profit should just be viewed as free promotion. Anyways, tune into the podcast to go deeper on this topic with us and to hear the point of view from an up and coming rapper and this week’s special guest!

#RideTheWave

McKendry Bade

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