[IRP] If web-platforms are "criminally responsible for content that users upload" "the Web as we know it will cease to exist"
Wed Feb 24 17:48:53 EET 2010
Hi IRPlers, FoE coalition & IGClers
I believe many of you have heard about the devestating result of the
vividown court-case in Italy, but for those who have not please read the Google
It is important to stress that this is not about Google, but about Freedom
of Expression online! Here is a summary:
A judge in Milan today convicted three Google executives in a case involving
a reprehensible video posted to Google Video that we took down within hours
of being notified by the Italian police. The video showed an autistic boy
being bullied by several classmates. In essence this ruling means that
employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible
for content that users upload. We will appeal this astonishing decision
because the Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in
The law in Europe -- as in the U.S. -- specifically *gives hosting providers
a safe harbor from liability* so long as they remove illegal content once
they are notified of its existence. These laws are premised on the belief
that a notice and takedown regime helps creativity flourish and support free
speech while protecting personal privacy.
If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and *indeed
every social network and any community bulletin board*, are held responsible
for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them ? every
piece of text, every photo, every file, every video ? then the Web as we
know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and
technological benefits it brings could disappear.
Below is some additional background on the case. We would of course *welcome
any public statements* you might be willing to make today expressing concern
about this ruling.
It would be great if we could agree to speak up on this matter!
Some more background articles:
New York Times story on ruling:
Leslie Harris/CDT op-ed: Italy's Case Against Google is a Bad Moon Rising
Jeff Jarvis: Italy Endangers the Web
UK Member of Parliament Tom Watson: ?This is the biggest threat to internet
freedom we have seen in Europe. The only people who will support this
decision are Silvio Berlusconi and the governments of China and Iran. It
effectively breaks the internet in Italy.?
TechCrunch: Can Someone Tell this Italian Judge what YouTube is?
"The future is here. It?s just not widely distributed yet."
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