Stop the Censorship Machine

 

 

  Stop the Censorship Machine

Dangerous new censorship proposals are on their way. Lobbyists for the music and publishing industries are pulling out all the stops to impose Censorship Machinery on the American people via extreme new copyright rules.1

They want to force websites to build expensive robot programs to spy for copyrighted material. This means they will block content before you post it – before you’ve done anything wrong – and violate your free expression online.2

U.S. copyright lobbyists even wrote to Trump attacking civil society efforts for fairer copyright and calling our desire to protect free expression "dangerous"3, so new rules could pass quickly unless we show the U.S. Copyright Office just how many Americans oppose this censorship plan.

Sign on to endorse our letter below and we’ll tell the Copyright Office where you stand!

Read the full letter here

We are calling on the U.S. Copyright Office to defend freedom of expression and oppose controversial Notice and Staydown regulations.

These regulations would require online platforms to filter content and censor it, using automated systems to spy on users and detect content flagged as potential copyright infringement. These Censorship Machines operate based on presumption of guilt and will stop legitimate speech.

Many exceptions to copyright are vital for innovation, promoting small business and a stronger economy. Rules that force businesses to build expensive algorithms will restrict innovation and harm those who rely on the existing legal structure of safe harbors — which allow for successful businesses from cloud computing to educational resource production.

We need genuinely transparent copyright law that enables, not restricts, free expression.

Copyright should match the positive agenda put forward in the Our Digital Future report and any changes to intermediary liability should clearly follow the Manila principles.

Copyright should never be used to infringe our right to free expression.

Thank you.

[Your Name Here]

 

 

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What is the Censorship Machine?

Directly following Trump’s victory, recording industry associations wrote to him asking that he demand tech companies create new ways to restrict access online and make sure they get the compensation they feel they deserve.4 Then the Copyright Alliance wrote to him aggressively pushing protectionist measures that would secure existing monopolies and stop new business emerging.

The system they are proposing is officially called “Notice and Staydown”.5 But we know what it really is: a censorship machine.

It would force our favorite websites to create or buy expensive new technologies to monitor and filter the content we create. It would put a huge technical burden on new websites and businesses to find ways to fulfill these obligations — putting a chill on innovation.6

The Censorship Machine means every website that allows users to upload content must have automated programs which detect and flag copyrighted content as it is uploaded. Its algorithm would block the person from uploading the content altogether, rather than taking it down after it has been fairly assessed.

How will this affect us?

Monitoring billions of posts per day can only be done with automated systems that unfairly censor legal speech and expression.

These programs detect and block content, regardless of whether or not it is legitimate or legal. These bots won’t be able to recognize legal exceptions for parody, public interest, and fair use. It will stop you sharing fan fiction, memes, video remixes, gifs, critiques, online reviews, home videos, and all sorts of brilliant, creative things. Even posting a comment on a blog or news story could cause you to run afoul of the censorship machine.

The Censorship Machine will force your favorite websites to monitor you, and give publishing giants the power to block your online expression.

Internet companies would also have new incentives to block or delete any material you upload if they fear a legal risk.

What else is being proposed?

The copyright Censorship Machine is bad enough, but that's not all! This could be the start of an avalanche of new demands that will dramatically restrict Americans' ability to express themselves online. For example, the newspaper lobby have written to Trump asking for the same link tax powers we saw in Europe.7 And the Copyright Alliance are attacking those who are working to defend free expression online, saying “ Efforts to diminish creators’ rights in the name of “free speech” should be viewed as destructive and dangerous.”

Instead of a Censorship Machine, we need positive rules that respect creators, prioritize free expression, and are shaped democratically.

In these turbulent times we simply cannot afford to have powerful mass censorship tools in the hands of lobbyists and government officials.

 

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Footnotes:
[1] Publishing Lobbyists Suck Up To Trump With Lies About Copyright, Ask Him To Kill DMCA Safe Harbors: Techdirt
[2] Notice & notice is really filter everything: EFF
[3]  Net Neutrality Hating, SOPA-Loving Marsha Blackburn Pegged To Chair Key Technology & Telecom Subcommittee, Techdirt
[4] Letter to President Trump from the Recording industry.
[5] Notice and...what? Explaining the Copyright Notice Trio: OpenMedia
[6] The Copyright Barons Are Coming. Now’s the Time to Stop Them: Wired
[7] Short Sighted Newspaper Association Asks Trump To Whittle Down Fair Use, Because It Hates Google: TechDirt

 

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Press: David Christopher | Phone: +1 (888) 441-2640 | Office: 1-604-633-2744 | david@openmedia.org