German court opinion reinforces growing gap between liability faced by US and European web hosts

Written by Tanaqui

German courts have indicated that they may force video hosting companies such as YouTube to proactively search out and delete music videos that infringe copyright, rather than requiring copyright holders and rights collection agencies to submit takedown notices before videos are removed.

This comes on top of the conviction last February of three YouTube executives in Italy where the ruling of the Italian court included a clear implication that every hosted video should be pre-screened.

Although German rights collection agency GEMA may have lost an application for an emergency order at the end of August 2010 asking for access to certain videos to be blocked, this is small comfort for German web hosts. The ruling was made only on the basis that an emergency order in itself was inappropriate, as GEMA had known for a long time that the videos were available on YouTube. The presiding judge in the case invited GEMA to ask for a ruling in regular proceedings, indicating their claim was likely to be successful in that event. He is reported as stating that “There are some good reasons to think that YouTube indeed has some duty to take care of detecting illegal uploads.”

GEMA indicated at the start of October 2010 that it does plan to file a new suit.

According to some legal observers, the opinion of the German court appears to be the latest of several examples of an emerging gap between the way similar laws are being interpreted in Europe and the US, where YouTube and other companies are covered by the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). Web hosts based in Europe appear to be at greater risk of being held liable for users’ actions prior to receiving takedown notices.

Australian Censorship Filter Unlikely To Be Implemented

I’m Helka, a member of OTW’s International Outreach (IO) committee. In an effort to bring more international news to our members, the OTW has asked IO to work with the Communications team. The following story was written by IO member Tanaqui.

A scheme for mandatory ISP-level censorship in Australia looks unlikely to succeed, despite the Labor government promoting the proposal having retained power in Australia’s recent parliamentary elections. The filter, proposed by Labor before the elections, would have likely prevented Australians from accessing most R-18+ content, including fanworks hosted outside Australia on archives such as an Archive of Our Own (AO3).

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), which campaigns to protect and promote the civil liberties of computer users, launched a campaign against the filter, the unfortunately-named It’s Time to Tell Mum (which came under fire for sexist content). However, the EFA now believes that this filter legislation would not be passed in the House of Representatives, let alone make it through a hostile Senate because the new government could not muster enough support for the filter among the Greens and independents who make up its partners.

Website accounts and comment notifications

Greetings from the OTW Webmasters! We’re pleased to announce two changes to our blog on transformativeworks.org that will streamline the user experience. These changes do NOT affect accounts on the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, or Transformative Works and Cultures.

We’re discontinuing user accounts on the OTW blog. Accounts have been a source of confusion for many people and offered little in the way of added features. New account creation is now blocked, and existing accounts will be disabled. Again, this does not affect AO3, Fanlore, or TWC accounts.

You can still leave comments on blog posts — simply enter a name or pseudonym to sign your comment. Existing comments will be preserved. And you can still receive comment notifications via e-mail.

In fact, we’ve installed a new comment notification system that is more powerful and easier to use. Notification e-mails now include the full comment text, LJ/DW-style, and you no longer have to leave a comment in order to receive notifications. Anyone can watch a post, with or without commenting, by clicking the “Watch this post” link and entering an e-mail address. (Your e-mail address will not be publicly visible.) You can unsubscribe at any time via a link in the notification e-mails or by returning to the post and clicking the “You are watching this post” link.

We hope these changes will make it easier to follow and respond to conversations on the OTW blog. If you have feedback about the website, please feel free to contact the Webmasters Committee.