Articles 11 and 13 have finally been approved by the European Parliament in spite of the warnings that many communities of experts have sent to MEPs about their negative consequences for our society.
Article 13, which compels platforms to implement filtering technologies, has been approved by exempting small businesses from this obligation. Even so, its introduction poses a serious threat to our freedoms.
Before Google bought it, YouTube contracted Audible Magic the technologies to filter the content its users uploaded to the platform. This contract remained in place for several years after the acquisition, until Google finally developed and implemented its own version.
Both are patented technologies, and therefore it is not possible to access the technical details that would make it possible to know exactly how they work.
Audible Magic remains one of the largest providers of content recognition technology, serving major platforms such as Facebook, Soundcloud or Daily Motion, among others. As it recognises on its own website, its technology is not based on the recognition of metadata, watermarks or file fragments, but on the 'perceptual characteristics of audio'.
For each copyright-protected file, a unique fingerprint is generated that takes into account elements such as intensity, pitch, timbre, duration and is included in a large database of fingerprints: the banned bit sequences.
Each time a user uploads a new file to a platform, their fingerprint is also calculated and checked for any matches against the database of protected material. In case of a match, the file is censored and will not be published.
These technologies seek to guarantee their clients their effectiveness in detecting the possible use of techniques to avoid them, such as compressors, sound effects, changes of tone or speed and even background noises.
But by the same token, however unlikely it would be for two different interpretations of the same Bach choir to have exactly the same frequency spectrum, the exceptions that the technology admits may lead to a match, thus generating false positives that turn a public domain work into a copyright infringement.
If in a video of a protest, a music plays in the background, this music becomes for the filters the protagonist of the video, while the protest becomes 'background noise'.
The reform of copyright law in the European Parliament imposes the use of very imperfect technologies that are based on exceptions, without which these products would not be viable and that turn them into censorship machines.
This condemns us to the disappearance of many rights that should be guaranteed above any private sector interest.