Policy Observatory

The new French law targeting "automated image referencing services": does EU law allow it?

Mon, 2016-10-24 14:35
Earlier this year France adopted Loi No 2016-925 on freedom of creation, architecture and cultural heritage which - among other things - introduced new provisions to regulate the exercise of the exclusive rights of reproduction and representation vis-à-vis automated image referencing services.  As explained by Brad Spitz in a post published on the Kluwer Copyright Blog, "the new provisions will apply to ‘automated image search services’, which Article L.136-1 IPC defines as any online public communication service that reproduces and makes available to the public for purposes of indexing and SEO, plastic, graphic or photographic works, collected in an automated way from online public communication services (i.e. internet websites). In other words, these provisions target search engine services like Google Images." Spitz also adds that Article L.136-1 IPC specifies that the images have to be ‘reproduced and made available’ by the image search services. This suggests that an act of reproduction is needed in order to trigger the entire mechanism envisaged by Loi No 2016-925. Lacking reproduction, no permission would be needed.

But: permission from whom? Article 136-2(1) CPI answers that, by saying that the publication of a plastic artwork, graphic or photographic work by an online communication service will be now subject to the consent - not of authors - but rather one or more collecting societies appointed to this end by the French Ministry of Culture.




Ceta, Poland and human rights on the agenda this week

Mon, 2016-10-24 14:26

In January this year, the European Commission opened up a probe on the rule of law in Poland, using for the first time a framework created in 2014.

On 27 July, the EU executive presented its findings and declared that the Law and Justice (PiS) government had passed laws posing a “systemic threat” to rule of law. It gave Poland three months to comply with a list of recommendations aimed at restoring the independence of the judicial system.

Civil society urges EU leaders to protect citizens’ data in trade agreements

Mon, 2016-10-24 14:14

European Digital Rights (EDRi), together with 20 civil rights organisations and individual signatories, sent a letter to the leaders of the European Union. In the letter, a broad coalition urges the European Commission and Member State representatives to resist pressure and come forward with proposals which will not sacrifice citizens’ fundamental rights.

Firsts conference on data protection in Lithuania

Fri, 2016-10-21 10:52

The first ever conference on data protection in Lithuania will take place next week on October 27. Information about the speakers is available in English here.


Advanced facial recognition technologies used by US law enforcement

Fri, 2016-10-21 10:47

Federal and local law enforcement across the US are adopting sophisticated facial recognition technologies to identify citizens on the streets and in social media by matching faces to massive databases.

The GS Media case: An attack on the world wide web

Thu, 2016-10-20 16:58

GS Media exploits a provocative blog with the name “GeenStijl” which published a hyperlink to a set of photographs of a Playboy Magazine issue that yet had to hit the newsstands. GeenStijl claimed that the photographs had been leaked from within Sanoma Media, Playboy licensee and publisher in the Netherlands.

Playboy et al litigated against GS Media. That resulted in prejudicial questions to the CJEU on whether a hyperlink to an infringing copy of a work on a generally accessible website constitutes a “communication to the public” as meant in art 3(1) of Directive 2001/29 and a set of related questions.

The CJEU, building on the already problematic Svensson case (C‑466/12, EU:C:2014:76), now has answered that question with a tentative “yes”, introducing a new criterion, namely that of financial gain.

Corporate-sponsored privacy confusion in the EU on trade and data protection

Thu, 2016-10-20 15:07

After the “Privacy shield” was adopted on 12 July 2016, the European Commission started internal discussions about whether or not to include “data flows” and “data localisation” clauses in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and in the Trade in Services Agreement. It appears that the European Commission Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG Justice) initially accepted the inclusion of clauses on forced, unjustified “data localisation”, but not on transfers of data. However, according to EurActiv, DG Justice has backed down and accepted a weakening of its position on data protection and privacy in order to placate industry, after a campaign based on dubious assertions and backed up by the US government.

Censorship in Italy: Child protection is the excuse again

Thu, 2016-10-20 15:02

One of the recurrent attempts to control the internet is the excuse of “child protection”. Italy has moved a step to this direction, and is going to release a new law against “cyberbullying” that confirms this new trend.

UK government proposes porn-viewing ID numbers

Thu, 2016-10-20 14:55

The UK government wants to stop people under 18 from looking at pornography and it proposes to make all the porn sites operating in Britain implement age-verification systems.

UK spy agencies broke privacy rules says tribunal

Tue, 2016-10-18 14:13

UK spy agencies broke privacy rules by collecting large amounts of UK citizens' data without adequate oversight, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled. The ruling said some data collection did not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Open data and freedom of information: complements or competitors?

Sat, 2016-10-15 14:17

Can open data improve people’s access to information? In this article, Michael Cañares, Regional Research Manager at the Open Data Lab Jakarta looks at how citizens in Banda Aceh used Indonesia’s Freedom of Information Act, and how open data worked to bolster citizen participation.

NL Parliament makes open standards mandatory

Thu, 2016-10-13 19:39

The use of open standards will be made mandatory for public administrations. A law proposal by MP Astrid Oosenbrug was adopted by the Parliament’s lower house yesterday. According to the MP, the open standards requirement will be one of several changes to the country’s administrative law, introduced next year.

ACLU exposes Facebook, Twitter for feeding surveillance company user data

Wed, 2016-10-12 22:55

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday outed Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for feeding a Chicago-based company their user streams—a feed that was then sold to police agencies for surveillance purposes.

European Commission’s overdue report on copyright consultations

Tue, 2016-10-11 15:49

Last week the European Commission released its bombshell Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. And while analyzing this proposal has occupied most of our time, there were several other documents released simultaneously by the Commission that also deserve the public’s attention. Of particular interest was the long-awaited report on the results of the public consultation on 1) the panorama exception, and 2) the role of publishers in the copyright value chain (aka ancillary copyright proposal).

The Commission's DSMS and CJEU case law: what relationship?

Tue, 2016-10-11 15:40
On 14 September the EU Commission unveiled its second copyright package aimed at improving the existing EU copyright framework as part of its Digital Single Market Strategy (DSMS).

Discussion has been focusing on the relationship between the new proposed directive and the existing body of legislation and the economic/legal rationale of the various initiatives. What however appears to have been left partly out of the debate is what relationship the DSM Directive has and will have with the existing body of case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

WIPO Marrakesh Treaty on access for visually impaired

Tue, 2016-10-11 15:26

The World Intellectual Property Organization treaty on copyright exceptions for print-disabled readers entered into effect on 30 September, and trading in accessible format works began immediately. This week, the treaty will be a highlight of the annual WIPO General Assemblies, and is expected to come up at the parallel UN Social Forum taking place next door.

Academics stress importance of preserving consistency and integrity of EU framework on content monitoring

Tue, 2016-10-11 15:04
A group of EU-based academics has just published a letter addressed at a number of EU institutions in the aftermath of the release by the EU Commission of the second copyright package.


Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails for US

Tue, 2016-10-11 14:59

Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers' incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter. 

European Court allows copyright owners to demand open WiFi networks be password protected

Tue, 2016-10-11 14:50

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently announced its decision in Sony v McFadden with important consequences for open wireless in the European Union. The court held that providers of open wifi are not liable for copyright violations committed by others, but can be ordered to prevent further infringements by restricting access to registered users with passwords. EFF reported on the legal aspects of the case last year and collaborated on an open letter to the ECJ on the costs to economic growth, safety and innovation of a password lockdown.

Signal received a grand jury subpoena for Signal user data

Tue, 2016-10-11 14:48

In the "first half of 2016" Open Whisper Systems (developers of the Signal messaging platform), received a subpoena from the Eastern District of Virginia requiring them to provide information about two Signal users for a federal grand jury investigation.