Tag Archives: Google

Tech Giants Win a Battle Over Copyright Rules in Europe

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/07/05/business/eu-parliament-copyright.html

European Parliament lawmakers rejected a bill backed by news outlets and music publishers to restrict the use of their content on platforms like YouTube and Facebook.Frederick Florin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

It’s a fight nearly as old as the internet.

On one side are news organizations, broadcasters and music companies that want to control how their content spreads across the web, and to be paid more for it. On the other are tech companies such as Facebook and Google, which argue that they funnel viewers and advertising revenue to media outlets, and free-speech advocates, who say that regulating the internet would set a dangerous precedent and limit access to information.

That battle flared up in Europe on Thursday. Two powerful industries faced off — technology against media, platforms against publishers — in an unusually aggressive lobbying campaign in the European Parliament over a bill that would impose some of the world’s strictest copyright laws, which would have required tech companies to filter out unlicensed content and pay for its use.

On this occasion, tech prevailed; the proposal was voted down.

The decision came amid broader efforts in Brussels to rein in tech giants. European regulators have already brought in tough new privacy rules, and are considering enhancing them. They have hit Silicon Valley companies with hefty antitrust fines, and are investigating them over their tax practices and handling of data. And like elsewhere in the world, they are increasingly skeptical of the argument made by internet companies that they are simply impartial platforms that cannot be held responsible for what is posted on their pages.

“Making content available on the internet does not come without responsibility,” said Eleonora Rosati, an associate professor on intellectual property law at the University of Southampton’s law school in England, who has been tracking the bill. “Rights holders want to control how their content is made available, shared and indexed.”

But after a well-coordinated effort by companies including Facebook, Google, Reddit and Wikipedia, as well as a grass-roots campaign by backers of an open internet, the European Parliament on Thursday rejected the proposed copyright law. Though lawmakers can still revise the bill and call another vote, the result is a blow to media companies that had believed that, if ever there was a good time to impose tougher rules on tech giants, this was it.

Media businesses like Axel Springer of Germany have become frustrated because even as their content has spread online, it is platforms like YouTube, owned by Google, and Facebook that have grown into advertising powerhouses on the back of the material.

Those media companies have been seeking a rewrite of Europe’s copyright laws that would give them more power to restrict how their content is distributed. They also cited concerns that Silicon Valley was not playing a strong enough gatekeeper role when it came to curtailing hate speech, violent extremism and fake news.

Supporters of the bill argued that stricter copyright laws would give content creators more leverage against internet behemoths such as Google. Publishers have long complained that such companies profit from the work of others.

“The real issue is Google’s market power,” said Lionel Bently, a law professor at the University of Cambridge who focuses on copyright. “The content industry feels it can’t negotiate on a level playing field.”

Influential policymakers in Brussels such as the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, have seemed receptive to such arguments. A proposal was put forward to require websites to use filtering technology to block unlicensed content from being posted and to obligate them to pay fees for news articles and other material posted online.

The proposed rules would have added up to a sweeping change to copyright law.

Operators of websites have long been protected from liability when unlicensed content is posted by a user. Instead, they are required only to remove infringing material once it is brought to their attention. In effect, if someone posts a movie clip on YouTube, or shares the text of an article on Reddit, those websites are not held legally liable.

The new European proposals would put more responsibility on website owners, creating a potentially costly problem for sites that depend on user-generated material.

The most contentious provision of the plans would require websites to use filtering software to screen such content before it was posted. YouTube already has a system to weed out unlicensed material, but the European rules would have gone further by requiring others to use similar tools. Another requirement, favored by book and news publishers, would prevent websites from using pieces of their content without authorization.

Critics of the bill argued that it would lead to many unforeseen consequences, warning that it could even affect satirical content or the use of images in internet memes. They said it would restrict what was available online, and some described a provision requiring permission before websites used publishers’ content as a “link tax.”

“There’s no way that those algorithmic filters are going to be able to decide that something is fair use, parody, a meme or a mash-up,” said Danny O’Brien, international director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit group that opposed the bill.

In defeating the proposal, the technology industry showed that it still held considerable influence, even as it has faced widespread criticism over privacy violations, the spread of misinformation, accusations of anticompetitive business practices and concerns about smartphone overuse.

The coalition against the proposal that came together over the past month was similar to defenders of net neutrality in the United States, a mix of corporate giants and open internet activists. They said the copyright bill would limit the access to information and would overburden operators of websites, especially those without the resources of an American tech giant, with the costly task of screening user-generated content before posting it.

Wikipedia blocked access to articles on its site in many European countries and encouraged its users to call on their representatives in the European Parliament to vote against the proposal. Scientists credited with creating the internet sent a letter urging that it be rejected. Even David Kaye, the United Nations rapporteur on the protection of freedom of expression, raised concerns.

Wikipedia said on its website that the measure “threatens online freedom and creates obstacles to accessing the web, imposing new barriers, filters and restrictions.”

Lobbying ahead of the vote was “extraordinary, something we don’t experience on a normal basis here in the Parliament,” said Umberto Gambini, a senior aide to Ramon Tremosa, a Spanish member of the European Parliament.

Mr. Gambini said he had received hundreds of messages from individuals and organizations attempting to win Mr. Tremosa’s support. There was one from a Polish business group, he said, another from an artists’ organization, and others still from news publishers and associations representing tech companies.

He added that one message had come from the musician Paul McCartney, who wrote to members of the European Parliament in support of the tighter copyright rules.

But Mr. McCartney’s efforts were in vain: Mr. Tremosa ultimately opposed the bill.

DMLA’s Amicus Brief Supports Argument as Oracle defeats Google Fair Use Argument over Java Code Packets

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s ruling of fair use in Oracle America, Inc. v. Google LLC, and held that a verbatim and non-transformative taking in the presence of an actual or potential licensing market fatally undermined the defense.

Even in industries unrelated to computers, mobile devices, software, and source code, the court’s broad pronouncement that “[t]here is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform” is both powerful and beneficial to creators and licensors of copyrighted content. DMLA’s amicus brief with the support of the coalition of Visual Artists– and one of many amicus briefs in this hotly contested case– helped explain to the court of appeals the importance of licensing markets in fair use cases in general. Ultimately DMLA supported the winning argument and contributed to the creation of appellate-level precedent that will help image licensors everywhere in responding to many infringement claims, as it turns on harm to the licensing market.

Read the entire article here

Oracle defeats Google Fair Use Argument over Java Code Packets

(ORACLE AM., INC. V. GOOGLE LLC
No. 2017-1118, 2017-1202, 2018 WL 1473875 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 27, 2018)

by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s ruling of fair use in Oracle America, Inc. v. Google LLC, and held that a verbatim and non-transformative taking in the presence of an actual or potential licensing market fatally undermined the defense. Oracle had sued Google for copyright infringement, alleging that Google had unlawfully used 37 packages of Oracle’s Java application programming interface – “pre-written Java source code programs” that serve as shortcuts for various computer functions to save programming time – in its Android-powered devices. Google copied verbatim 11,500 lines of Oracle’s copyrighted computer code as well as the structure, sequence, and organizing of the packages. After a second jury trial on fair use, Google prevailed on its fair use defense, and Oracle appealed after the district court rejected its post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law.

The Federal Circuit disagreed with the district court’s assessment, and analyzed each of the four fair use factors in 17 U.S.C. 107. In particular, under the first factor (nature and purpose of the use), the court held that Google’s use of Oracle’s code was both commercial and not “transformative” because the purpose of the software packages in Google’s Android operating system was the same as the purpose of the package in Oracle’s Java platform; Google did not change the expressive content or message of the code; and use of the code in smartphones as opposed to other computer hardware did not constitute “new context.” As many courts do, the Federal Circuit did not pay much heed to the second factor (nature of the copyrighted work), but emphasized under the third factor (amount of the work used), that the taking at issue here was more than was defensible. For instance, there was no dispute that only 170 lines of code were needed to write in Java programming language, but Google copied 11,500 lines.

The court spent considerable time discussing the fourth factor (effect on the potential market), focusing on harm to actual markets for the copyrighted work, as well as the market for potential and derivative uses. The court noted that the record clearly showed actual market harm in that Oracle’s copyrighted works had already been used in mobile devices, that Google directly competed with Oracle using Oracle’s own code, and that the existence of the free Android operating system caused significant damage to Oracle’s negotiating position with third parties like Amazon. The district court also had failed to consider potential market harm, including licensing Java “for smartphones with increased processing capabilities”; importantly, the court observed that just because Oracle had never built its own smartphone device was irrelevant “because potential markets include licensing others to develop derivative works.” Because factors one and four weighed heavily against fair use (factor two weighed in favor, and factor three was likely against), the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded for a trial on damages.

Even in industries unrelated to computers, mobile devices, software, and source code, the court’s broad pronouncement that “[t]here is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform” is both powerful and beneficial to creators and licensors of copyrighted content. DMLA’s amicus brief with the support of the coalition of Visual Artists– and one of many amicus briefs in this hotly contested case– helped explain to the court of appeals the importance of licensing markets in fair use cases in general. Ultimately DMLA supported the winning argument and contributed to the creation of appellate-level precedent that will help image licensors everywhere in responding to many infringement claims, as it turns on harm to the licensing market.

Alphabet’s Google acts to comply with EU antitrust order

DMLA has been a member of  Comp for the last few years in support of CEPIC and  EU companies working for a solution to the Google antitrust issue.  It looks like Google is FINALLY coming up with a solution to the anti-competition lawsuit.

It seems like the time is right for the U.S. to revisit the same problems here in our country and help businesses here regain their competitive edge on the internet.

 

The Fight Against Google Continues in the EU

Thanks to our working relationship with CEPIC,  we are kept up-to-date on the latest in the EU fight against Google.  DMLA is been part of ICOMP, which has now joined forces with OIP (Open Internet Project) to bring more pressure on Commissioner Vestager.  There are two related articles to read.  Part of one is below and the link to one from Politico is here.

Welcome to Morning Tech, your beacon of truth when there is fake news around EU’s tech politics and policies.

END OF A EUROPEAN SUCCESS STORY? After a year or so of relative silence, Google’s rivals and opponents are back in the streets, cranking up the pressure on Europe’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to act. Last week, it was ICOMP and the Open Internet Project, this week it is Kelkoo tearing into the Shopping case.

The chief executive of Kelkoo, one of Europe’s largest shopping comparison websites, said his firm could go under next year if Vestager doesn’t take serious action in the six-year-old case. “We’ve got to the point where we have nothing left to lose,” Richard Stables told us.

Join the queue, Richard. Foundem, the original complainant, closed its website in December; Yelp announced around that time it was closing its European operations, complainant group ICOMP is pooling its resources with the Open Internet Project, while many other shopping websites have shriveled. And yet Kelkoo’s outburst is significant: It’s a big European player, with a presence in almost two dozen countries and 230 employees.

Rivals add to complaints against Google’s Android

By Nicholas Hirst/Politico

A tech lobby group filed a fresh antitrust complaint against Google with the European Commission, reiterating accusations the U.S. tech giant used its popular mobile operating system to protect its dominance over internet searches.

The Commission already has an ongoing probe into Android examining the issues raised by OIP. If the Commission accepts OIP, whose members include French-German search engine Qwant, as a formal complainant in the Android case, the lobby group would have access certain documents and could provide its views.

The OIP also announced Tuesday that it was integrating 20-plus companies from the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, a long-standing anti-Google group that is closing.

It used a press conference to criticize the length of the Commission’s probe into Google and to call on enforcers to impose “interim measures,” which could require Google to change its conduct pending a final decision. It also accused Google of acting in “bad faith.”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

OIP’s members include German publishers Axel Springer (a co-owner of POLITICO in Europe) and Hubert Burda Media, Qwant, the French search engine in which Axel Springer has a stake, French shopping website leGuide.com, U.S. photo agency Getty Images, and German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1.

To view online

Kelkoo CEO: Google is ‘screwing’ entire online shopping industry

From Politico

— By Nicholas Hirst

The head of one of Europe’s leading price comparison websites, Kelkoo, said it’s in danger of going under next year unless the European Commission takes market-stabilizing action in its six-year case against Google Shopping.

“We might not even survive another 18 months if there is not a decision soon,” Richard Stables, Kelkoo’s chief executive, warned in an interview Tuesday.

Stables accused Google of willfully destroying a series of budding online businesses and threatening to demote rivals that objected. Foundem, the first shopping website to formally complain about Google to the Commission, closed in December.

“This is about Google screwing over an entire industry and actually really hurting consumers,” added Stables, who said he decided to speak out because “we have got to the point where we have nothing left to lose.”

However, he said it was up to the Commission to decide what solutions would restore fair competition.

Google did not respond to a request for comment, but has vigorously resisted the Commission’s accusations it hurt competition. The Commission could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Commission opened its investigation in November 2010 and formally accused Google of hurting competition in the online price comparison space in 2015. The charges were updated last year. Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner for competition, told the European Parliament last month she was doing her “utmost” to wrap up the probe.

Citing documents released erroneously by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Stables said Google had pursued a strategy to eliminate emerging rivals like Kelkoo since as far back as 2004. That included demoting comparison shopping websites in Google search results and luring away advertisers with the promise that they would appear in Google’s product search for free — only for Google to start charging once they had seized the market, Stables claims.

Stables also said Kelkoo’s subsidiary LeGuide had objected to Google scraping content like reviews. He claims Google responded that it would push the site down its search results if LeGuide resisted.

The price comparison sector has struggled over the past decade, forcing companies to sell off divisions and rivals to consolidate and stay afloat. After being snapped up for large sums, European websites Kelkoo, Ciao and LeGuide were sold. All are now managed under the Kelkoo umbrella by a U.K. investment group and employ about 230 people in Europe.

The company’s online shopping revenue continues to decline and time is running out.

Related stories on these topics: CompetitionDigital IndustryGoogleMediaOnline shoppingStartups

 

 

 

 

Getty’s Open Letter to U.S. Senators

logo-GettyImages

 

DMLA Member Getty Images has written an Open Letter to U.S. Senators regarding Google’s anti-competitive practice of image scraping.  This policy change on the part of Google was implemented in 2013 and greatly impacts anyone who displays images on the internet.

Getty is asking for support from visual associations and image licensing companies, as well as the photographers that we represent.  We ask you to read the letter and if you agree with it, please add your name.

You can read the letter here.

Google Responds to EU’s Antitrust Case

From ICOMP’s Blog:

Google in Denial

Today’s blog post from Google is, unfortunately, simply another attempt to divert attention away from the devastating impact their self-preferencing has had on the online market, making many of the same old arguments we have seen before.

Commissioner Vestager has been clear that in her view Google’s systematic self preferencing of its own comparison shopping service, along with its demotion of rivals, is in breach of European antitrust rules. But, in spite of the detailed work and analysis of the Commission and others over many years, Google still refuses to acknowledge the impact of its anti-competitive conduct.

If Google truly believes “in the interest of promoting user choice and open competition”, and in the strengths of its arguments, we would urge them to make their case in front of the Commission and complainants at an oral hearing.

The decision is in Google’s hands, but holding a hearing could provide a unique opportunity for Google to present its full defence and for complainants and other interested third parties to offer their perspectives. We have long believed that transparency and a meaningful debate is in everyone’s best interest, and an oral hearing is an important step in ensuring that such a debate takes place.

We look forward to supporting the Commission in taking the case forward and helping to find robust and workable long-term solutions to remedy the harms caused by Google’s anti-competitive practices. ICOMP’s members, who represent a wide range of interests in the digital sphere, will be keen to ensure that effective remedies are speedily reached.

See the whole story on Politico here

**DMLA is a member of ICOMP