I Know That the French Are Nuts on Copyright, but This Is Ridiculous

French internet cops have demanded that the Internet Archive remove more than 550 instances of “terrorist propaganda” from its site.

There’s only one problem: the illegal and offensive content they have identified includes live recordings of the Grateful Dead, archives of TV news shows and pages from Project Gutenberg – which archives plain text versions of books as horrifying as The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland.

The organization is not amused. “It would be bad enough if the mistaken URLs in these examples were for a set of relatively obscure items on our site,” it said in a blog post, “but the French IRU’s lists include some of the most visited pages on archive.org and materials that obviously have high scholarly and research value.”

It then provides some of the links that it points out it would be obliged to remove within one hour if new legislation passing through the European Parliament is approved. It is painfully obvious that the requests are overly broad and misguided.

“The European Parliament is set to vote on legislation that would require websites that host user-generated content to take down material reported as terrorist content within one hour,” the Internet Archive notes. “We have some examples of current notices sent to the Internet Archive that we think illustrate very well why this requirement would be harmful to the free sharing of information and freedom of speech that the European Union pledges to safeguard.”


There is another chilling component too, highlighted by the Internet Archive: a separate takedown notice sent by the French L’Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalité liée aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC).

In this case, it demanded that the organization take down a video that discussed whether the Islamic holy text, the Quran, included “provocation of acts of terrorism or apology for such acts”.

If you place this authority in the hands of law enforcement officials, it will be abused, and it will be used stupidly.

It is the very nature of law enforcement.

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