Making the case against automated copyright filters

Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020

For a while techdirt has been doing an admirable job at documenting the failures of the copyright filters. This week has been a particular good week with two new cases that demonstrate the shortcomings of filtering technology (or rather automated systems build on top of such technology):

On Tuesday they reported about NBC universal and National Geographic claiming to own NASA footage of the recent launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and as a result taking down YouTube clips and streams of anyone else using this footage. The issue here are incorrect rights claims that even in obvious cases like this one are not caught by YouTube. As long as the entities making such claims have to face no consequences for such behaviour this will continue to be a side effect of the deployment of any automated filtering system.

Now preventing others from showing images of an overhyped commercial spectacle is relatively harmless from a freedom of speech perspective. Today techdirt reports about another case that is almost the textbook example of copyright filters blocking political speech: YouTubes Content ID has blocked reporting from the ongoing anti-racism protests in the US because it contained music by 2Pac and Marvin Gaye playing in the background. This well documented failure mode of copyright filters should rule out their use under almost all circumstances.

Thanks to techdirt for continuing to remind us that the issues we have been highlighting in the discussions around the implementation of Article 17 of the Copyright Directive are not merely theoretical but very real problems that even the self styled leaders in content identification have failed to solve despite massive investments into their technology.