Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

Pirate Party MEPs on the CJEU upload filter opinion: Freedom of expression shall prevail over profits!

In reaction to the Advocate General’s opinion on the compatibility of Article 17 of the Copyright Directive with fundamental rights published today, MEP Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party), the LIBE Committee‘s opinion raporteur on the Digital Services Act, says:

“The European Court of Justice is the last hope for millions of internet users who had demonstrated and protested against error-prone upload filter censorship machines in 2019. The Advocate General disappoints this hope. Due to the very large number of internet publications even a supposedly ‘insignificant’ error rate of say 0.1% results in thosands of cases of over-blocking legitimate information and causes massive damage. No algorithm can reliably determine, for example, whether an uploader holds a licence to content or not.

The newly elected and rejuvenated European Parliament has long moved past its 2019 position. The mandatory use of censorship machines against terrorist content has already been rejected. Only yesterday has the LIBE Committee spoken out against any obligation to use the error-prone censorship machines for the upcoming Digital Services Act and called for reigning in on ‘voluntary’ machine censorship.

We must never allow a high-tech surveillance state based on the Chinese model in free Europe. I am counting on the European Court of Justice to ban ex-ante censorship.”

Marcel Kolaja, Pirate Party Vice-President of the European Parliament, explains:

„While the Advocate General calls out the Member States’ responsibility to only target illegal content, the software won’t able to recognize which content is manifestly infringing and which is not, as it is undoubtedly error-prone. Moreover, countries which implemented the copyright directive according to the Commission’s guidelines would now be, based on the Advocate General’s opinion, violating freedom of expression online. Because of course, what happens is that upload filters are removing legal content as well. Article 17 is causing huge chaos. The legislation should not have introduced usage of any upload filters in the first place.  The European Pirates have been warning against that from the very beginning.“

Breyer positively appreciates that the Advocate General rejects the EU Commission’s recent recommendations on the implementation of the upload filter obligation, which had been shaped by strong lobby pressure. “Financial interests do not justify the overblocking of legitimate and valuable publications in a democratic society,” Breyer said.

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