Author Topic: EU Copyright Reform Article 11 and 13 and their effect on the Lemmings community  (Read 738 times)

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Offline Strato Incendus

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Anyone active on YouTube probably knows what I'm talking about: Since last year, the EU has been adamant to get a copyright reform passed. Despite a massive public outcry, demonstrations, politicians getting drowned in mails by citizens begging them to vote against the reform, and the largest online petition in European history with almost 5 million participants, all the objections are being ignored thus far. The load of mails is simply dismissed as supposedly generated by bots controlled by Google, who are major opponents of the reform.

So what is this copyright reform about, for those who might not know yet?

Specifically, article 11 entails a tax on hyperlinks, and article 13 makes platform owners liable for any copyright infringement committed by their users (instead of the users themselves). Additionally, the platform owners must prove they're doing anything in their power to prevent copyrighted material from being uploaded in the first place. Experts agree this is only possible via expensive automatic upload filtering software.

Smaller sites, like this one, are probably just going to run into the issue of not being able to afford this software, thereby being forced to shut down (for international sites this means "pull out of the EU"), otherwise they're risking a great deal of legal trouble.

On larger platforms, like YouTube, the filters are going to be established, however, people fear they won't be able to distinguish a genuine copyright infringement (like somebody uploading a whole movie) from fair-use applications like using snippets for reviews or creating cover versions of songs. (Note that the concept of fair-use doesn't exist in the EU, despite that being the actual copyright reform we would need!)

Moreover, in contrast to the current principle on YouTube where something is only removed if the rights owner flags it, these bots are going to work the other way around:
They're going to block everything from being uploaded in the first place unless there is explicit permission by the rights holder. Meaning, platforms have to spend additional money to acquire licenses from all possible stuff any person might possibly try to upload (images, videos, music, even text).

That's the situation in a nutshell to the best of my knowledge.

Of course I'm going to be personally affected due to my YouTube channel about metal cover versions, but I'm also wondering how this is going to affect Lemmings.

Is the game really completely public domain now, with no remaining copyright by Psygnosis / DMA? Or is Team 17 the current rights holder, meaning YouTube would have to get a license from them in order for Lemmings content to be uploaded?

Furthermore, the issue of what type of music we can put into our levels is going to reach wholly new... well... levels. Because it's not only about Let's Plays anymore, but also about what music people can upload just here on the forum.


A major part of the community is located inside the EU (predominantly Germany and Finland). I doubt the UK is still going to put these regulations into place before Brexit, especially considering that the member states have 2 years time to transform these EU rules into national law. But as far as I know, the final vote on the bill by the EU parliament is going to take place on 23rd March, i.e. before Brexit (29th March).

And given that the main initiator of this reform, Axel Voss, is from Germany (CDU, Merkel's party), I'm pretty sure at least my country is going to transform EU- into national law pretty quickly in this case.

For the American users and namida in New Zealand, obviously you're not going to be immediately affected; however, in case Lemmings Let's Plays should come into conflict with those upload filters for whatever reason - bet it the game itself, custom graphic sets like Sonic / Freedom Planet, or the music in the background - then I don't know whether viewers in the EU will be able to watch them. We may just see a return of the geo-blocking notice "This video cannot be viewed in your country".

Given the already small size of our community and the low view count Let's Plays of custom Lemmings packs are getting anyway, this would therefore also negatively impact you guys.
Ghost Lemmings - help us test a possible new NeoLemmix skill!
My packs so far:
Lemmings World Tour, my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
Paralems, a more flavour-driven one, 150 levels
Pit Lems, a more puzzly one, 100 levels - Let's Played by nin10doadict
Lemmicks, a pack for NeoLemmix 1.43 full of gimmicks, 170 levels

Offline namida

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Smaller sites, like this one, are probably just going to run into the issue of not being able to afford this software, thereby being forced to shut down (for international sites this means "pull out of the EU"), otherwise they're risking a great deal of legal trouble.

The EU has no legal authority over this site. The owner (myself) is in New Zealand, and the servers are in the US. The EU cannot force this site to do shit, and I fully look forward to telling them to go fuck themself if they try.
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Offline Strato Incendus

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I appreciate your forceful response to this, namida! :thumbsup:

That's what I meant with "you won't be affected immediately".

I'm not sure though if they could block access for users living in the EU to sites not fulfilling their requirements?
Along similar lines of geo-blocking on YouTube where you can't watch certain videos depending on where you live.

Of course they can't force you to shut down the site, but they might deny us access to it. Alternatively, they might make you liable if a user from the EU uploads something they consider a copyright infringement (that is how they put pressure on even Google and YouTube). Meaning if you offer the services of this site to people living in the EU and they violate anyone's copyright (e.g. by creating a Sonic tileset, uploading music or similar), the EU law would make you responsible for it, not the user. Of course you can ban the user, but at that point the "damage" is already done.

If what you are saying were entirely true, we wouldn't have to worry about YouTube either, or Google, or any major internet platform for that matter, because they are all US-based as well. But it does indeed look like Google and YouTube are among the primary targets of this legislation.

Spain already introduced something similar to the "link tax" of article 11, resulting in Google News (not Google as a whole, just the news service) pulling out of the country. Google has already declared they'd be willing to do the same for the entire EU.

Currently, I just hope the EU caves in to the demands of the titans Google and YouTube, just like they cave in to the industry on other matters. :evil: Feels weird to be on the side of the big international corporations for once, rather than on the side of an institution that claims to be "democratic".
« Last Edit: February 24, 2019, 08:16:28 pm by Strato Incendus »
Ghost Lemmings - help us test a possible new NeoLemmix skill!
My packs so far:
Lemmings World Tour, my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
Paralems, a more flavour-driven one, 150 levels
Pit Lems, a more puzzly one, 100 levels - Let's Played by nin10doadict
Lemmicks, a pack for NeoLemmix 1.43 full of gimmicks, 170 levels

Offline namida

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I'm not sure though if they could block access for users living in the EU to sites not fulfilling their requirements?
Along similar lines of geo-blocking on YouTube where you can't watch certain videos depending on where you live.

The main difference would be that Google (which owns Youtube) has an EU presence as well. Given how much they're worth, they're also a lucrative target even if there isn't really a leg to stand on, because often they'll just pay out a settlement rather than bothering to drag the matter out - and the fact that US law doesn't generally provide for the losing side to reimburse the winning side's legal costs helps make that feasible.

They could theoretically block access to the site within the EU. I'm not sure if the site's IP is unique, it may very well be (well, it's shared with neolemmix.com, but beyond that I mean). It would take on the order of minutes of work, and maybe a few hours of waiting at most, to change to a new one, if the need arose. I somewhat doubt they'd bother with a small fan community anyway; generally, the target of such enforcement is large sites such as Youtube that can pay large fines (and thus make money for the EU government).

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Alternatively, they might make you liable if a user from the EU uploads something they consider a copyright infringement (that is how they put pressure on even Google and YouTube). Meaning if you offer the services of this site to people living in the EU and they violate anyone's copyright (e.g. by creating a Sonic tileset, uploading music or similar), the EU law would make you responsible for it, not the user. Of course you can ban the user, but at that point the "damage" is already done.

Again, they could say "you've broken EU law, namida!"... so what? I don't live in the EU, I don't hold any EU citizenship, I've literally never even been to an EU country. They have zero means of enforcing their laws against me. Big whoop. Unless NZ passes a law saying "EU laws in relation to sites available to EU visitors can be enforced against NZ citizens", I'm out of their reach - and I suspect NZ won't; IIRC NZ has explicitly declared they will not assist with enforcement of GDPR regulations against NZ entities, so I suspect the same will hold true here too.
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Offline Nepster

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As far as the current proposal goes, it does not have any impact on this site (even if it were registered within the EU):
1) Article 11: Apart from the completely misleading word "tax", which does nowhere appear in that article (and rightly so)... The article only applies under some circumstances:
- If you verbally cite or otherwise display the main content of the site you link to, thereby leaving no incentive to go through the link, and...
- If the majority of readers of your content don't click through the link.
This mainly targets big social networks citing the headline and the first half of the articles from actual news sites. On this forum, I can't remember someone citing enough of some extrenal site (apart from neolemmix.com :)), that the link was just there to avoid copyright-infringements. On the contrary: Most of the external links here are of the form "You should have a look here! It's great content!". And anyway, who cares about the 100 views or so, that a usual post here gets? Remember that owners of the linked site still have to sue namida for stealing their viewers and prove that this forum is responsible for them receiving less income due to the links!
2) Article 13: On this site every post gets read by some admin or moderator within a few hours. This is better by far than anything article 13 demands, which in particular does not force websites to check every upload for copyright infringements. The "expensive automatic upload filtering software" is only needed for the huge platforms, which due to their huge data volume cannot apply any other means.

Anyone active on YouTube probably knows what I'm talking about: Since last year, the EU has been adamant to get a copyright reform passed. Despite a massive public outcry, demonstrations, politicians getting drowned in mails by citizens begging them to vote against the reform, and the largest online petition in European history with almost 5 million participants, all the objections are being ignored thus far. The load of mails is simply dismissed as supposedly generated by bots controlled by Google, who are major opponents of the reform.
I am not really surprised that mails are getting ignored, if they are based on misleading information, similar to the one you share here (although I believe you are doing that not on purpose).

Additionally, the platform owners must prove they're doing anything in their power to prevent copyrighted material from being uploaded in the first place. Experts agree this is only possible via expensive automatic upload filtering software.
"Anything in their power" is a drastic overstatement: They will indeed have to do more than react to reported copyright infringements and be more proactive about checking their content, but checking every post before it will be published (or something like that) would still be overkill. And the experts are mainly talking about the huge social networks and sharing sites, which then gets taken out of context and applied to small sites to make everyone afraid.

On larger platforms, like YouTube, the filters are going to be established, however, people fear they won't be able to distinguish a genuine copyright infringement (like somebody uploading a whole movie) from fair-use applications like using snippets for reviews or creating cover versions of songs. (Note that the concept of fair-use doesn't exist in the EU, despite that being the actual copyright reform we would need!)
First of all: The concept of "fair use" does exist at least in German law (which is most likely based on EU law in that case). However it is far more restricted (e.g. for educational purposes) and doesn't apply to the use-cases you describe here.
For such use-cases as reviews you can still use trailer material or other officially published and openly available material. And sorry, but I really don't see why anyone should be allowed to cover copyrighted songs and openly publish their cover!

Moreover, in contrast to the current principle on YouTube where something is only removed if the rights owner flags it, these bots are going to work the other way around:
They're going to block everything from being uploaded in the first place unless there is explicit permission by the rights holder. Meaning, platforms have to spend additional money to acquire licenses from all possible stuff any person might possibly try to upload (images, videos, music, even text).
So what? That's how copyright works! You yourself have to make sure you have the all the necessary rights (now or tomorrow, in the EU or elsewhere). But because noone cares at the moment, some pressure has to be applied. Do you have a better suggestion than forcing Youtube and other companies to care a little more?

... but I'm also wondering how this is going to affect Lemmings.
Is the game really completely public domain now, with no remaining copyright by Psygnosis / DMA? Or is Team 17 the current rights holder, meaning YouTube would have to get a license from them in order for Lemmings content to be uploaded?
Lemmings is still copyrighted. However being a legitimate owner of Lemmings (which I believe we all are) gives the right to play the game and publish recordings of your gameplay, so Youtube won't need a license.

Furthermore, the issue of what type of music we can put into our levels is going to reach wholly new... well... levels. Because it's not only about Let's Plays anymore, but also about what music people can upload just here on the forum.
Yes, we will have to be more careful about choosing only freely available music. But that's not really any different than the current situation.

Upshot is: I still see a lot more positive consequences (less copyright infringements and more revenue for actual content creators) than problems with this proposal. And of course Facebook, Youtube and co will paint a rather dark future, because they currently earn a lot of money on advertisement around copyright-infringing material...

Offline ccexplore

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Hmm, just update the thread again when the final vote takes place and the reform becomes law for real (or not, as whatever the case will be).  All of you are welcome to continue debating the merits and demerits here, but you should probably consider other channels than here when it comes to advocacy (regardless of sides) if you actually want to try influencing the final outcome (good luck?).

It sounds like the biggest thing going for us (in terms of the forum anyway) right now is lack of enforcement due to jurisdiction (and potentially our limited reach compared to sites like youtube).  People who posts videos on youtube or other widely use video and/or streaming platforms would indeed be potentially impacted by those platforms' compliance measures towards these new laws, but from my understanding shouldn't have impact to the forum even if someone post links here to the videos/streams on those platforms.  Hopefully those platforms would also provide some guidelines to help you work through the cases where your video/stream is getting blocked by their filters.

Offline Nepster

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Sorry, ccexplore is completely right: This forum should not concern itself with oncoming (or better: any) political decisions. Please excuse my previous reply, that was a result of all my frustration about the ever growing amount of statements that are rather one-sided and less than perfectly researched.

Offline Strato Incendus

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I wasn't meaning to kick off a general political debate, I just wanted to clarify to what extent either this site (as it seems: barely) and/or Lemmings LPs on YouTube (as it seems: more so) are going to be affected ;) . My opening post was a question based on what I knew, nothing that claims to be a comprehensive summary of accurate information only.

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2) Article 13: On this site every post gets read by some admin or moderator within a few hours. This is better by far than anything article 13 demands, which in particular does not force websites to check every upload for copyright infringements. The "expensive automatic upload filtering software" is only needed for the huge platforms, which due to their huge data volume cannot apply any other means.

I simply hadn't considered that, because usually this is too much effort for any site, so most major platforms people frequent don't even have this option and hence will be bound to introduce the filters if they are situated in the EU. So even if that were the case for this site, that's the upside of being a small community, not having to give away sovereignty to bots! :thumbsup:

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I am not really surprised that mails are getting ignored, if they are based on misleading information, similar to the one you share here (although I believe you are doing that not on purpose).

I won't deny there are probably misinformed people among those who are writing; however, the politicians don't ignore the mails themselves, they do respond, but instead of going into detail about to what extent those asking might be misinformed, they just call everything "fake news" and dismiss it without further explanation. (Source: Kanzlei WBS-channel on YouTube)

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For such use-cases as reviews you can still use trailer material or other officially published and openly available material. And sorry, but I really don't see why anyone should be allowed to cover copyrighted songs and openly publish their cover!

That's why few Germans are doing it, but we seem to be pretty alone with this mindset :) .

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I could easily switch to just uploading my own songs, but if they happen to be similar - even if only a short part of it - to a song I don't even know myself, but the bot does, then it can be blocked even though it's completely self-written. There are only 12 notes on the keyboard, after all, and everyone knows how many "4 chord songs" exist out there.

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Do you have a better suggestion than forcing Youtube and other companies to care a little more?

As far as I know, YouTube already made deals with most music collecting societies (Verwertungsgesellschaften) like GEMA etc.?

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Lemmings is still copyrighted. However being a legitimate owner of Lemmings (which I believe we all are) gives the right to play the game and publish recordings of your gameplay, so Youtube won't need a license.

Okay, good to know - how does YouTube check if you own the original game, though? ;) And it's not like NeoLemmix itself tests whether there is a valid installation of Windows Lemmings on your computer when you try to install or start it.

And as said before, graphic sets appearing in levels, being images, can also be snatched by the filters. Or is there an explicit permission stored somewhere here on this site for every tile from every graphic set released so far? ;)

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less copyright infringements and more revenue for actual content creators

The former is true, the latter only for article 11, if I understand this correctly ;) .

Since the filters enforced on major websites through article 13 prevent uploads altogether, revenue created by things like YouTube's content ID system is lost.

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All of you are welcome to continue debating the merits and demerits here, but you should probably consider other channels than here when it comes to advocacy (regardless of sides) if you actually want to try influencing the final outcome (good luck?).

Influencing the outcome is not what I'm trying to do with this thread, don't worry! ;) In fact, I only opened it because I consider the outcome inevitable by now, despite all the massive protest.

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Hopefully those platforms would also provide some guidelines to help you work through the cases where your video/stream is getting blocked by their filters.

With the content ID claims there's the possibility to refute them in case e.g. a self-written piece of music got incorrectly identified as someone else's work. But so far I only got content ID claims for videos as soon as they were uploaded completely (for three of them, all of them reading "the owner allows the usage, but ads may appear on your video", as I explained above). If the upload itself is prevented already, I'm not sure to what extent people responsible at YouTube are even going to be able to see these videos and check whether the claim is accurate or not.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 02:52:51 pm by Strato Incendus »
Ghost Lemmings - help us test a possible new NeoLemmix skill!
My packs so far:
Lemmings World Tour, my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
Paralems, a more flavour-driven one, 150 levels
Pit Lems, a more puzzly one, 100 levels - Let's Played by nin10doadict
Lemmicks, a pack for NeoLemmix 1.43 full of gimmicks, 170 levels

Offline ccexplore

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I could easily switch to just uploading my own songs, but if they happen to be similar - even if only a short part of it - to a song I don't even know myself, but the bot does, then it can be blocked even though it's completely self-written. There are only 12 notes on the keyboard, after all, and everyone knows how many "4 chord songs" exist out there.

Then I guess try extending it to a 5-chord song? ;P

Kidding aside, it might be too early to tell how much this is a problem, since the hypothetical filter hasn't actually been implemented yet.  Clearly it will have to be fine-tuned a bit to balance the false positives and false negatives.  I suspect short fragments that happen to collide with random known music will likely still be okay.  I also think there'd likely be more weight given to things like the melody that would also have a lot more notes (and hence harder to collide randomly).

In any case, there's a pretty long tradition in for example, TV shows like The Simpsons where a scene is pretty obviously parodying some famous scene from another movie or TV show, but presumably due to copyright they purposely composed their own completely different music that nevertheless vaguely feels similar in spirit or effect to the original, even though the chords and notes are quite different.  So this gives me optimism that you can usually tweak your way around even accidental false positives.  Again it'll partly depend on how they implement the filtering, for example would user be able to easily find out which portions of their upload were detected as potential violations?

But so far I only got content ID claims for videos as soon as they were uploaded completely (for three of them, all of them reading "the owner allows the usage, but ads may appear on your video", as I explained above). If the upload itself is prevented already, I'm not sure to what extent people responsible at YouTube are even going to be able to see these videos and check whether the claim is accurate or not.

Again, it's fair to wonder and worry about such things, but also a bit early as nothing has been implemented or probably even spec'ed out yet.

I'd think it would be in best interest of the platforms to provide an issue resolution process for the cases where you want to dispute the upload filters.  I have to imagine that they would have to provide a way for you to upload a video for the purpose of such a process.  It would not be subjected to filtering since it won't be published for anyone to see except the team behind the review/resolution process.

Offline Strato Incendus

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Then I guess try extending it to a 5-chord song? ;P

Trust me, there is a reason why four chord songs are the most successful :P . I myself hate using that formula and try to do something else whenever possible, but being deprived of such mainstream options altogether because too many other people used them already would be overkill. Copyright aside, I don't think a bot should be the arbiter of musical taste ^^.

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for example would user be able to easily find out which portions of their upload were detected as potential violations?

For the content ID-System, this is the case. In cases of cover songs, it usually refers to the entire video, but even here the filter only recognises parts. This technology has to be in place because the more common context is people using fractions of existing studio records in their videos.

Still, as far as I know, if a video of yours does receive a copyright claim, even if it's just refering to a couple of seconds, at least the audio for the entire video will be muted, so not just the part that's the copyright violation (until you go ahead and remove the audio manually). Likewise, if the rights owner wants to block the video, the entire video will be blocked until the part in question is removed. So to my knowledge, YouTube has the technology to detect partial copyrighted material in videos, but not the option to mute only parts of the video automatically (and even less so for pictures, obviously). Of course not, because that requires manual editing.

And indeed, I can already see people going back and forth between trying to upload a self-written piece of music and back to the recording software, trying to modify tiny bits until the upload filter doesn't confuse them with already published material anymore. :D

But that is not how recording music is supposed to work - it's a linear process: You record, you mix, you master (and especially the latter part is often done by an external person who gets paid for it). When one step is completed, you proceed to the next one. Nothing sucks more than having already paid for a mastered song, only to have it blocked by the filter, and then go back to the mixing or potentially even the recording stage - because of course, you'll have to pay the mastering engineer again, or redo the mastering yourself. And you have no guarantee that the next time the song will get past the filter, so you might not even know what you have to change about your piece in the first place.

The intuitive answer may be "Just make sure your song doesn't sound like any particular song you know, then you can't plagiarise".
The problem is: The database behind the filters is going to know a lot more songs than you do ;) .

To make this relatable to non-musicians: It's as if you'd have to replay, re-record and re-edit an entire Lemmings Let's Play video whenever just a couple of seconds of music in your video trigger the filter :D .

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Again, it's fair to wonder and worry about such things, but also a bit early as nothing has been implemented or probably even spec'ed out yet.

To be clear, I'm not trying to stir up a panic here - I myself drift back and forth between "wait and see" and "resist while you still can". Once the law is implemented, it will be much harder to actively abolish it again than if it doesn't get passed in the first place. One side is going to call the other paranoid for worrying about this too much, and the other side is going to call the first one naive for putting their faith in bureaucrats and bots who aren't creatives themselves.
Ghost Lemmings - help us test a possible new NeoLemmix skill!
My packs so far:
Lemmings World Tour, my music-themed flagship pack, 320 levels - Let's Played by Colorful Arty
Paralems, a more flavour-driven one, 150 levels
Pit Lems, a more puzzly one, 100 levels - Let's Played by nin10doadict
Lemmicks, a pack for NeoLemmix 1.43 full of gimmicks, 170 levels

Offline Dullstar

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Even without these restrictions I've seen a lot of complaints about false positives on YouTube's system, which reveals a problem:

For sites with a large amount of content uploaded, such as YouTube, in order to sift through all the material to check for copyright infringement, the only cost-effective way to do it would be with automated scripts - but the technology, while it is improving, isn't quite yet up to the task. Theoretically speaking, the site could hire people to do it, but since the amount of content being added is so large, it would be cost prohibitive for most, if not all of these sites. The current technology is really only sufficient to flag submissions for further review, but in most cases this isn't how it's being used, which leads to consequences when there are false positives.

In general, however, it is difficult to find fair analysis of the consequences of the EU regulation, especially with regards to an international Internet. Most articles I've seen seemed intended to stir up the Internet outrage machine, so I'm not convinced the coverage I've seen is a realistic analysis of the consequences of the legislation. This could induce some lawmakers to choose to brush off the outrage as uninformed, if the people contacting them are saying several objectively inaccurate things. Of course, I'm also making an assumption in this argument, and that's that the coverage EU citizens have been exposed to is of comparable quality to the international coverage - that assumption very well might not hold up under scrutiny.

On the topic of music, I've definitely had a few occasions where I've started something only to later realize it's very similar to something I've heard before - fortunately I hadn't gotten far enough along for it to result in a lot of lost work, though, and since I run a no-budget, no-revenue, almost-entirely-personal-use operation it's not like I'm really facing financial losses from these accidental cases of similarity.