What is the ARD? 

The ARD, for all of you not living in Germany, is part of a network of German (defacto-)tax-funded television, that is supposed to be more independent and being able to produce content that is not profitable for private television (like educational and cultural content) as well as objective, non sensationalist news.

ARD vs Facts 

This is the video I will be talking about and from which I will quote. It’s about the EU-Copyright reform, article 13 (or article 17 by now).

“Everything I say in this studio is protected as my intellectual property.”

Is that so? This is already inaccurate. As you are an employee of the ARD, the content you produce during your employment as a direct result of the job you are paid to do, will be owned by the ARD and not by yourself. I think we will find out later about why the ARD feels to need to lie about this point.

“As soon as it floats through the internet, there is no longer any protection.”

This is wrong. While there might not be any technical barrier against copying the content - just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you are allowed to. There are laws against copyright infringement and there have been countless prosecutions and sentences because of it. Saying that there is no protection is like saying there is no protection against other people running you over with their car for fun. Of course nobody can stop them in the moment it happens, but the criminal justice system will attempt to find and punish them. The same thing happens with people who infringe on copyright. Now you can argue that the sentences for copyright infringement are too low. I would not agree to that, but anyway that is not the point you are making, you chose to just lie.

“Everybody can upload my (sic) [content], in any way they want […]”

Well, as I just explained, you can run over people - just like you can upload copyrighted material- but you will face consequence for it if you are discovered. It is true that the crime clearance rate for internet criminality is very low, but this problem really isn’t limited to copyright and probably more rooted in a lack of experts prosecuting them. Again however you don’t even try to make this point, you just lie.

Now onto towards the final decent into dishonesty and the second part of the sentence.

“[…] edit it [the content], create a gaga-text from them or photoshop my head onto the body of Ingo Zamperoni”

Actually, I am allowed to create a, as you put it “gaga-text” from your content: It’s called satire, and just like me quoting you here, it’s an exception to copyright. The ARD does however not feel the need to clarify this, instead they just lie.

“I wouldn’t like that.”

It is utterly irrelevant if you like it or not. Most public figures wouldn’t like to be the center of satire, it’s called free speech - deal with it.

“The internet doesn’t know (sic) rules [limits].”

The internet does know rules and limits, namely the limits set by the same law that applies everywhere else. For example I am not allowed to spread false information about somebody that would discredit him, it would be illegal. In the same way I am not allowed to just upload this segment. Again you could make the point of too much anonymity within the internet, but you don’t, instead, your chose to lie.

“Article 13 says, online-platforms like YouTube [etc..] are liable to for copyright infringement on their platform.”

While this is true, the implication made here, is that they aren’t at the moment, which is not true. Most of them are liable if they do no react as they are made aware of an infringement. The difference with article 13 is: There is now supposed to be a mechanism that makes sure this doesn’t happen in the first place. Not a lie, just slightly dishonest reporting.

(sic) “Non-commercial, […], and new, small businesses are exempted from the regulation.”

Yes they are, but how is it the ARD doesn’t notice - or deliberately chooses to ignore - the obvious problem here: What exactly is non-commercial? Does it mean they do not make money? Do they have to be a registered non-profit organization, what about a donate button? We have already seen these definitional problems with the regulation about legal information on websites, saying that every non-personal website has to have one. This basically led to everybody making one because they weren’t (and couldn’t) be sure if they needed one. These are question the average person cannot answer and, frankly, the average company can’t answer either.

The second part is only worse in that regard: What is going to make a “small startup”, how to do you get this status, what if you are small startup now and in three years you suddenly have to implement so a filter and the filter itself is too expensive? Questions over question the ARD doesn’t bother to ask.

“It will be allowed to criticize or satire.”

Damn right it will be, not because article 13 though, but because of a lot of other laws concerning copyright. Now in an earlier statement you already demonstrated, you yourself may have problems defining satire. I am in tech for years now, and like every other technical informed person I will tell you the following: It is completely impossible for an automated filter to recognize such content. It is simply out of the questions, such functionality is decades away at best and when it will exist eventually, it will be a costly high tech solution provided by a few big tech companies, likely making them more money than YouTube could ever do.

This brings us to the inevitable point made later in the video which I will focus on now:

“The word Upload-Filter is not mentioned in the Text of article 13”

So how exactly do you think a platform like YouTube or even a small company that has only 1000 uploads a day will check for copyright infringement? Check them by hand? Or as Karl-Nikolaus Peifer suggest “write it into the EULA”. Soooo… If I just write into the rules of my site “please don’t upload any copyrighted content” and react when somebody notifies me of copyrighted work that still was uploaded to my platform, I will be fine? If that was the case, that would indeed be fine. Oh, what? That’s the current status? Ohhhhhh….

Joke aside, how detached from reality can you possibly be to believe that this clause can lead to anything else but upload filters, especially since almost every experts that has some technical background tells you exactly this?

The entire part about Fred Breinersdorfer 

Fred Breinersdorfer apparently is the author of the movie “Sophie Scholl - Die Letzten Tage”, a critical acclaimed drama about civil resistance in Nazi-Germany. He complains about finding parts of “his” movie on YouTube. Also he doesn’t necessarily seem to care about losing money, but about the fact that people merely seeing parts of his work would undermine his artistic intention.

At this point we have to think back to the point the news-anchor claimed he would own the intellectual property rights to the content shown: It is unclear if Mr. Breinersdorfer actually owns the rights to the movie and while he might be still payed a provision for sold copies, I’d say it’s unlikely he actually holds the distribution rights.

This is important, because YouTube does have recognition for music and movies. It is possible to claim or take down the video - at least if you are the actual holder of the distribution rights. At this point we have arrived at something i like to call the “Viacom”-problem: Having clips of your movie on YouTube has a high probability of increasing the sales of your movie. So even if it would be possible for the Studio actually owning the distribution rights to take the clip down automatically or at the click of a button, it’s unclear if they actually would, because they likely want to make money just like the artists do.

Actually this part is great, because in an attempt to provide arguments for the reform they actually show how a proponent of the article seems to understand neither the article nor the current situation - and just to be clear about that: It’s OK to not understand something. I do not blame Fred Breinersdorfer for his statements I even admire his devotion as artist. I do blame the ARD for not thinking about his statements and likely failing to explain the entire situation to him before asking him for his opinion.

The problem is bigger than Article 13 

Now will the internet die overnight? No it won’t. Are Memes in any way important? Probably not. So why are so many young people going to the streets? Well, because in many way article 13 is a symptom of a much bigger problem. Technical illiterate people make decisions about technical topics because of some fringe lobby group. In many ways this whole situation is funny to me, because whenever, for example, the coal-industry does engage in lobbying they mostly do it in private and laws impacting them are often passed as silently as possible.

But with article 13 the politicians in the EU didn’t even bother to hide it. They were so ignorant of the topic, they didn’t even understand the problem they were paid to ignore. For many young people - like myself I might add - article 13 is not just a change they don’t like, it’s a manifestation of everything they think is wrong with politics.

The greater damage done 

I’m not going to deny that targeted disinformation on the internet is on the rise. I would like to see an objective news agency and I even think the only way to get one is through the concept of tax founded television (or news in general). I would like radical groups to disappear from politics, I would like to see a united Europe with people in charge who try to do best for the people they have responsibility for. But at the same time I know that will not happen. The ARD, on average is no doubt more reliable that most news-agencies, but at the same time I couldn’t take them seriously for a long time now, especially whenever they are talking about “fake news”, cause if you criticize others for dishonestly you better your own facts straight first.

A new Copyright law 

Copyright laws have to be improved, there is no doubt about that. There is now over a decade of experience with digital rights millennium act (a part of US copyright law). Why can’t we expand on the lessons learned from this, first large, legislation partly aimed at the way the internet works? We should have an open discussion about possible solutions and most importantly, these discussion must be had by people who understand the topic, lawyers, computer scientist and artists - and in the wake of that, maybe we should also accept that the times have changed and we will never go back to the way media worked in the last century.

I want artists to paid the money they deserve, but I would like to hear the opinion of artists who actually are impacted by problems this reform tries to solve. I would like to ask them, what they think about artists that might be impacted negatively by this reform, because their satire content gets blocked by a malfunctioning filter nobody truly understands.


Feel free to send me a mail to share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Google paid me to write the bot which wrote this article.