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Illegal memes? Weak Safe Harbor? Unpacking the proposed EU copyright overhaul

(credit: Amio Cajander ) “Modern copyright rules fit for the digital age” is how the European Commission describes its proposals for the first major overhaul of EU copyright law since 2001. But a wide range of startups  and  industry , academic , digital activist and human rights groups believe that key elements of the proposals will cause serious harm to the functioning of the Internet in the EU and beyond. A vote taking place next week in the key European Parliament JURI committee will determine the likely shape of the law. The most contentious element is Article 13 of the proposed directive (EU-speak for law). It seeks to make Internet services that host large amounts of user-uploaded material responsible for policing their holdings to prevent copyright infringement. Until now, companies have been able to draw on the safe harbor protection in the EU’s e-commerce law , which online services enjoy when they are “mere conduits.” The new copyright directive would withdraw that protection for any service that “optimizes” content, which includes things like promoting, tagging, curating, or sequencing a site’s contents—most major online services, in other words. Legal and technical problems In the future, sites would have two options. They could enter into a licensing agreements for all the content uploaded by their users, although the proposed law does not explain how that could be done for fragmented markets where there is no single licensing body. Alternatively, online services must “prevent the availability on their services of works or other subject-matter identified by rightsholders.” Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Illegal memes? Weak Safe Harbor? Unpacking the proposed EU copyright overhaul

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Facebook and Twitter remove hundreds of accounts linked to Iranian and Russian political meddling

Facebook has removed hundreds of accounts and pages for what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” generally networks of ostensibly independent outlets that were in fact controlled centrally by Russia and Iran. Some of these accounts were identified as much as a year ago. In a post by the company’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, the company described three major operations that it had monitored and eventually rolled up with the help of security firm FireEye. The latter provided its own initial analysis , with more to come. Notably, few or none of these were focused on manipulating the 2018 midterm elections here in the states, but rather had a variety of topics and apparent goals. The common theme is certainly attempting to sway political opinion — just not in Ohio. For instance a page may purport to be an organization trying to raise awareness about violence perpetrated by immigrants, but is in fact operated by a larger shadowy group attempting to steer public opinion on the topic. The networks seem to originate in Iran, and were promoting narratives including “anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Iran,” as FireEye describes them. The first network Facebook describes, “Liberty Front Press,” comprised 74 pages, 70 accounts, and 3 groups on Facebook, and 76 accounts on Instagram. Some 155,000 people followed at least one piece of the Facebook network and they had 48,000 Instagram followers. They were generally promoting political views in the Middle East and only recently expanded to the States; they spent $6,000 on ads beginning in January 2015 up until this month

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